Royal Canadian Corps of Signals
Born on Feb. 10, 1920 in Calgary, Alta. In 1935 he joined the local militia signals unit as a boy soldier. During the following year or so they became equipped with No. 1 wireless set, with a range of about three miles. Drill, courses and Sunday exercises kept the unit busy for two or three occasions per week. Summer camps at Sarcee and Dundurn. At the latter, in 1938, he was first introduced to vehicle-mounted wireless sets. (10:00) Describes uniforms. In 1938 was sent to Vimy Barracks, Kingston to qualify as a militia sergeant. During the 1939 Royal Visit to Calgary militia units were required to line the route in two locations. Fast movement was required after the Royal party had passed the first location. When war broke out they moved to Barriefield, just outside Kingston. A confusing time, during which morale suffered. Transferred to Vimy Barracks where accommodation and training equipment were good. Qualified as a radio operator. Officer training at Brockville, then additional signals training. Overseas in March 1942 to Aldershot. Posted to the Regiment de Maisonneuve. (30:00) A difficult time and a mistake since he had a poor grasp of French. By July 1942 he was transferred to 3rd Infantry Division Signals. Comments on exercises and the necessity, for signals staff, of immediately establishing communications after the exercise was over for the day. Appointed to the artillery signals section of 3rd Division Headquarters. Impressions of England. (40:00) Main Signals problem was usually the breakdown of line communications: passing vehicles often broke wires. Substitute signals officer for the 13th Field Regiment, R.C.A. Then posted to 14th Field Regiment as signals officer. By now had good switchboard equipment, telephones, and the No. 19 wireless set (1943). In July of 1943 was the second-in-command of the operating section of 3rd Division Signals. Invasion training began in earnest in Scotland. For a short time was adjutant for 3rd Division signal reinforcement unit. Excellent experience, but was glad to return to the field as signals officer for the Cameron Highlanders of Ottawa (M.G.). (15:00) Communications network not as complicated for a machine-gun unit since companies came under tactical control of others. Landed in Normandy on D+12. Beaches very well organized, landed dry-shod. Divisional signals a very interesting position since most information passed through the hands of his unit. Bombed by the U.S. Army Air Force on the way to Falaise. Posted to command the operating section of Division Headquarters as a captain. Comments on the Scheldt Estuary, Ghent, Nijmegen where they spent the winter of 1944-45. During Operation Veritable flooding caused special signals problems. "Friendly" attack on Headquarters by R.A.F. Typhoons: luckily no casualties. Rhine crossed. Near Oldenburg when war ended. (40:00) Returned to Canada in Dec. 1945. Comments on occupation experiences in Holland. Stayed on with Signal Corps after the war. Retired in 1969. (47:00)
Lieutenant-Colonel P.C. Klaehn (centre), Commanding Officer of The Cameron Highlanders of Ottawa (M.G.), holding a map session with officers of the regiment near Caen, France, 15 July 1944. (Names in group): Major Roger Rowley, Second-in-Command; H/Major John W. Forth, Chaplain; Captain G.A. Harris, Adjutant; Captain J.M. Lambert, Technical Adjutant; Captain R.F. Ferrie, Signals Officer; Lieutenant J.A. Morris, Intelligence Officer
Caen, France (vicinity):
July 15, 1944.
Aikman, H. Gordon., Photographer