Veteran Stories:
Bill Warshick

Army

  • Signalman Bill Warshick, 3rd Divisional Signals, Royal Canadian Corps of Signals, attached to the 17th Duke of York, Royal Canadian Hussars. 1945

  • The Blighty Express, the first "leave" train for England

  • Safe conduct pass distributed throughout continental Europe. German soldiers used this document as a sign of their genuine intent to surrender

Enlarge Image
Listen to this story

"I went to school Monday morning, and I said to teacher, 'I have to leave early.' He says, 'I think I know where you're going."

Transcript

My name is Bill Warshik. My military service started on the 23rd of June, 1938, at the age of fifteen.

It was exam time and there was four or five of us who were standing on the front steps talking and several of my chums mentioned the militia. And here I didn't know that they were in the militia. So the one I liked the best, I said, "what are you?" And he said "I'm a signaller in the Eston Light Infantry". I said, "how do I go about joining?" He says, "we parade tonight, and Tuesday and Thursday, and come on down and you can join." So I went down. It was a few people lined up to join. So when my turn came to enter the room, the Major - Major McMullen - said, "Good evening, young man. And how old are you?" I said, "I'm fifteen, sir." He said, "Would you like to be a drummer or a bugler?" I said, "No, sir. I'd like to be a signaller." "You have to be sixteen for that. Go out the room, please." So I went out the room, stood at the door, and he said, "Come in, young man. How old are you?" "Sixteen, sir." He said, "Do you want to be a drummer, a bugler, or a signaller, sir?" So I signed up and there I was. It was his son that was the Sergeant of the section and we had to learn the code before we went to camp, and this was June. So we were going to the Armouries every night. Now, you only got paid for something like two weeks of camp and two weeks for attending parades, all year long, and the pay for a boy - under nineteen, you're a boy - was 55 cents.

Then we started training for the Guard of Honour for the visit of the King in 1939. Once again, this was probably four or five times a week that we paraded. I was sixteen, and in the Guard of Honour. Then the war broke out, and because of my age my, sister said, "You're not going to join up." I did continue with the non-permanent active militia, this time in the signals. But at the same time, the Armouries were right close to our high school, Saskatoon Tech. And there were special courses being offered in the high school, in the technical school, wireless offering courses especially for the air force. So I attended these courses every day for about five months 'til my speed was twenty-five words a minute, and the people in the non-permanent active militia were very surprised to see how my speed increased. And then, one day on parade, the captain said, "The 1st Corps need reinforcements." This is 1st [Canadian] Corps overseas. He said, "Any of you volunteer?" So I put up my hand and a couple of others. Saturday morning, went to the Armouries, did half my enlistment, I went to school Monday morning, and I said to teacher, "I have to leave early." He says, "I think I know where you're going." I had been active in the Cadet Corps, helped to organize it, me and a couple of the other chaps in the Reserve. So he wished me luck, went to the recruiting station, came home in uniform that night, and about five days later I was in basic training in Kitchener, Ontario. We went to Kingston, Vimy Barracks, for our signals training, and overseas in July '41.

Follow us