Donald Philip Racicot's Army Pay Book with page showing his promotion from "boy soldier" to the rank of Private. 1944.Donald Racicot
Donald Racicot's discharge certificate showing his military service from September 19, 1944 until September 15, 1945.Donald Racicot
"I was frustrated then because by four days I missed one full year of service, and as a result I'm not eligible for any of the benefits that vets get today"
My name is Don Racicot. The time, when I was seventeen, we were living in Shawinigan Falls, Quebec, and I graduated from high school in the spring of '44. I went into the Armed Forces. I guess it was a combination of a sense of adventure and patriotism. The only thing we could do at that age was to go into what they called at that time the Canadian Technical Training Corps – the CTTC. The purpose of that was to take somebody of seventeen but less than eighteen in that area and train them so that they could then go into one of the active regiments or services.
The basic training was in Fredericton, New Brunswick. There, we were given the basic rudiments of machine shop, carpentry work, drafting, electrical work. That lasted from October '44 to February '45, at which point then you could choose which branch you wanted to get into. Because the course of driver/mechanic was being held in London, Ontario, or in Hamilton, near London, I wanted to go to that part of the world, so I went and became a driver/mechanic and went for training for that, where we went into big trucks and (?) vehicles – they were track vehicles – and also motorcycles. We tore them apart and rebuilt them. In there was also about a four week or six week (?) in Woodstock, Ontario, for the actual driving part of these same vehicles.
After that training, we went to St. John's, Quebec, to the infantry for, again, basic training (we'd had it about six times). Every camp, we went through basic training of a sort. We went on for further training (???), advanced training. We got a little bit frustrated by it, because while there, V-J Day came through. There was not really much enticing us to go through ten mile route marches when there was no longer a war! However, we went through it, and by that time, our same little group trained so often that every time there was a marching competition of sorts, we always won, and we were always given three or four packs of cigarettes, which were the thing in those days.
I was discharged to go back to university, and I must say, with all due respect, I was frustrated then because by four days I missed one full year of service, and as a result I'm not eligible for any of the benefits that vets get today, but I did receive all of my university training, up to and including a graduate diploma, paid for by the government, which was very much appreciated.
I loved it. It permitted me to grow up, and to learn about life.