"The band was 24 members, that’s all we were allowed. Then we had a 14-piece dance band in amongst the 24 people, which we did some dance swing band music and did some outside work, too."
In 1944, my uncle had been in the army and he was playing in a band. And he notified us that they were forming a new band in [Camp] Barriefield [near Kingston, Ontario] for the [Royal Canadian] Ordnance Corps and they were taking underage boy soldiers. And older men, categoried men. So I decided I’d go down and try. My dad wanted to go down too so we both went down. And we both got in.
And my dad got right in but I had to wait until September, getting permission from Ottawa to let me in underage. And then when I went back down there, we had already gone up to Barriefield and talked to the bandmaster there. And he had taken us to the ordinary room, to the adjutant, and got a letter to take us down to get signed up so that we would be posted to Barriefield.
The band was 24 members, that’s all we were allowed. Then we had a 14-piece dance band in amongst the 24 people, which we did some dance swing band music and did some outside work, too. Of course, the band did all the parades around the camp and ceremonies and graduation ceremonies of all the different classes and stuff that were going on. And we had a parade every morning. And then we marched the troops out to their training areas and went and got them again at noon hour and brought them back in for lunch. And then they were taken back out after lunch and we got them back again at 5 o’clock for supper.
We did the officers’ mess dinners every week and did parades around Kingston, big Victory Bond parades, stuff like that. And we went out and played over in the [United] States too, did some parades and stuff over there. That was quite interesting. We would sometimes meet hospital parades coming in. And it could be the middle of the night, too. And if there was and we had to go down and we’d play at the train station as the troops were, as they’re bringing these troops off. A lot of them were just coming off in stretchers or in wheelchairs and then they were taken over to the military hospital. That was when I was in Barriefield.
When the war ended in May of 1945, I wasn’t 18 yet so I hadn’t gone into a, I was still in the band, I hadn’t gone into a military unit, a fighting unit, which I knew I was going to go in once I turned 18 because I was physically fit. My father never stayed in, his rheumatism and arthritis got him the first winter up in Barriefield, those cold huts, he couldn’t stand that, so they sent him home. But they were pretty cold and miserable in the wintertime. But I stayed on and the Pacific Force was forming in Barriefield in 1945 after the European war was over and but like I said, I still wasn’t old enough to get out of the country, so they just said, stay until your time comes up and I went.
Our band then got transferred that year to Longue Pointe [Quebec]. That was near Montreal. That was the Ordnance Depot. And I stayed in there for a while and then they were recruiting then to form a peace time band, but, in April of 1946, I got my discharge, came back to London [Ontario] and got my discharge from there.