Veteran Stories:
Georges A. Côté

Army

  • Georges Côté when he first enlisted in the Royal Canadian Air Force, May 1941.

    Georges Cote
  • Georges Côté (right) with fellow student pilots standing in their official flight suits, Cap-de-la-Madeleine, Quebec, 1941-42.

    Georges Cote
  • Georges Côté, July 12, 2010.

    Historica Canada
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"They kept me as an instructor at the school. I couldn’t go any farther than that. I accepted it. I finished the war training non-commissioned officers."

Transcript

My father was a fisherman. I was born into a big family. My mother had 14 children. I was the seventh born. There were 13 of us boys and two girls. During the [19]30s, I dreamed about enlisting in the [Royal Canadian] Air Force. When I turned 18 in March 1941, I had completed 11th grade. It was sufficient to enlist in the air force as a student pilot. I hitchhiked all the way to Quebec City. I went to Buade Street, to the air force enlistment office. I was accepted naturally and I started an intense period of basic training. My basic training took place in Victoriaville [Quebec] and then I went to [Camp] Debert, Nova Scotia for my security guard training. I returned to Cap-de-la-Madeleine [Quebec; No. 11 Elementary Flying Training School (EFTS)] for my pilot training, as a student pilot. Unfortunately, in 1943, my training ended since I had airsickness. I realized then that my career as a pilot wouldn’t continue beyond this point. Despite my disappointment, four of my brothers were already in the army; two were in Le Régiment de la Chaudière, one in Les Fusiliers Mont-Royal and the other with Les Fusiliers du St-Laurent. Since I couldn’t be a pilot, I requested to be transferred to join them. Unfortunately, I couldn’t join them in their regiments. I was assigned to the Royal 22e Régiment. Since I had already received military training, they decided to send me to the NCO [Non-Commissioned Officer] School of Instruction. I received my rank as a non-commissioned officer. I finished at the head of my class. They kept me as an instructor at the school. I couldn’t go any farther than that. I accepted it. I finished the war training non-commissioned officers. I was disappointed since my brothers and I were very close. I was the youngest and I had left home first. I couldn’t join them. They were in Holland [as part of the Northwest Europe Campaign of 1944-1945] while I was training non-commissioned officers at home. They explained to me that they needed the officers I was training. I gave my all and trained them to the best of my ability. That’s how I finished out the war. I can be a difficult man. I have a way of seeing things and saying things. When I was twenty years old, I was at the head of my class. Then they told that I would be staying there to teach. I had 21 men before me that I had to train during 3 months. I was already authoritative, I always had been. There were a few incidents. Two fellows who were older than me tried some things. The next day, before our marching, I went to see the sergeant major. I told him that I had two troublemakers in my platoon. I gave him their names. Before our marching, the commander called them forward and explained in front of everyone that they were essentially under arrest. I took care of that immediately. Since I was young, some people thought they would do what they wanted with me. I took care of the problem. People found out. I didn’t have a lot of camaraderie in the army, but I had good friends in the air force.
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