THE UNTD IN ’43
A Rare Story of Officer Training in its Infancy
What better way to celebrate the 60th Anniversary of the UNTD than to publish a story of the training program in its infancy! In September of 1942, the Federal Government passed the National Selection Service Act, making military training compulsory for all fit males in university. What follows are the exciting adventures of a Vancouver University student, Bob Banks and his efforts to join the armed forces in 1943.
In the fall of 1942 I was a second year student at the University of British Columbia. I was a member of the rowing club, the boxing club and a sergeant in the Canadian Officer Training Corps (COTC) under Colonel (Professor) Gordon Shrum Ph.D. (See LCDR Hal Lawrence’s story of Advanced "Guzintas" pp. 150-1 of UNTiDy Tales of Officer Cadets). At that time I was having trouble keeping my mind on my BA studies and had signed up to join the Canadian Scottish Regiment at the end of the term. However, in December I heard about the new UNTD plan for university students and I decided to give the RCNVR a try. In March of 1943 about twenty-five of us joined the navy at HMCS Discovery as Ordinary Seamen (UNTD). Some of my classmates were: John Rickaby, Keith Lightbody, Tom Grant, Ray Cullinane, Jim Miller, Don Johnston, Don McKay, Ted Pratt, D.J. Hopkins, Q.R. Robertson, Gerry Birch, John Livingstone, Grant Robinson, Don Mann and Hal Burke. We received our basic training at Discovery until May when we entrained for Toronto and more training at HMCS York. We were assigned to Assiniboine Division.
On June 16, 1943, after picking up more UNTD types on our way across Canada, we arrived at the large new base, HMCS Cornwallis, at Deep Brook, Nova Scotia. I believe Cornwallis was at that time only a month or so old – the ground was either red dust or red mud depending on the weather. Our training consisted of three weeks of gunnery, three weeks of seamanship and two of torpedo. Drill was done on the highway, as there was still no parade ground. (See "The Early Years" pp. 34-35 of UNTiDy Tales of Officer Cadets). Part of the program included a little sea time. Most of the ships received two or three cadets, but I was sent alone to HMCS Red Deer, a Bangor class mine sweeper. Within thirty seconds of saluting the quarterdeck, it was all over the ship that a "green" timid cadet was on board. My first duties included cleaning the heads, painting the hawsepipe and fetching green oil for the starboard lamp. The food was wonderful after Cornwallis, but as far as leadership training was concerned, there was none. A UNTD cadet was just considered another hand. However, it was a great experience.
In October 1943, our class went before the officer candidate selection board. It consisted of a commander and two lieutenants. Unfortunately, there was to be no white cap tally in my future. As a rejected officer candidate, I was given a number of choices: wait six months and try again; join any branch of the RCN; or request a discharge. I requested a transfer to the submarine branch, but was told that there was a long waiting list. The same problem existed in the fleet air arm so I requested a discharge and returned to Vancouver. Some of my UNTD classmates went on to a regular officer training program at Kings College and in the summer of 1944 ended up aboard HMCS Niagara.
When I got back home I joined the RCAF. I was posted to No. 3 Manning Depot, Edmonton in November 1943, then to No. 2 Initial Training School, Regina, then to No. 2 Bombing & Gunnery School, Mossbank, Saskatchewan, then to No. 5 Air Observers School, Winnipeg. I graduated from there as a bombaimer with the rank of Pilot Officer.
I was released from the RCAF and placed on Class E Reserve in early 1945. Instead of returning to university, I enrolled in the Vancouver School of Art, along with some 75 other ex-service personnel, navy, army and air force. I met my future wife Elma, there and two years later we were married and I started out on the long struggle to make a living drawing pictures. I began my own business in 1953 but found no fame and very little fortune. I have done over 150 dinner plate illustrations including the navy commemorative series for the 75th Anniversary in 1985. That project included Haida, Sackville, Bonaventure and the Avenger Torpedo Bomber.
In 1954 I joined the RCAF Mobilization Assignment Training Plan (Reserve) as a Manning Support Officer, retiring in 1966 as a Flight Lieutenant. Today I am an associate member of the NOAC and a volunteer with the Vancouver Naval Museum. All in all, I enjoyed my short association with the UNTD and the RCNVR. I have very fond memories and no regrets whatsoever. I still keep in touch with old mates from the RCNVR and the RCAF, but a lot of us are beginning to fall off the perch. FLt. Bob Banks CD #22 – 1001 Northlands Drive, North Vancouver, BC, V7H 2Y3. Phone: (604) 924-2026
C. Herbert Little
Father of the Post-War UNTD, 1946 –1952
The following obituary appeared in the Ottawa Citizen. As graduates of the UNTD program, we have lost a friend and a man who once played an important part in the shaping of our lives.
LITTLE, Cdr. Charles Herbert (Herbie) CD, MA, F.R.C.G.S., F.A.M.F., Isabel La Catolica Order (Spain), Rhodes Scholar, Director of Naval Intelligence RCN WWII Peacefully at the Perley and Rideau Veterans' Health Centre, Ottawa on January 10, 2004 in his 97th year. Beloved husband of the late Ruth B. Little (nee Harrison) of Rothesay, N.B. Loving father of Jennifer, Tony (Sue), Robert (Audrey) and Patrick (Vicki) and grandfather of Allison, Herbert (Nathalie), Michael, Toby (Phillip), Victoria (Keith), Christopher and Alexandra. Also sadly missed by special friend Eleanor Meier, niece Lynne Harrison, by Marilee Little and four great-grandchildren. Born December 11, 1907, Cdr. Little was raised in Mount Forest, Ontario and through his characteristic hard work won scholarships to both UCC (1926) and Trinity College, University of Toronto (3T0) where he also excelled in hockey, football and cricket and was a brother at Zeta Psi. While attending Brasenose College Oxford (1932) as a Rhodes scholar he captained the Oxford Ice Hockey Club that won the Spengler Cup in three successive years. On return to Canada he married his beloved Ruth and served as a Master at UCC until he joined the RCN in 1939. During WWII he became the first Canadian Director of Naval Intelligence on the Naval Staff and as such was one of a very few Canadians to handle Ultra decrypts.
He continued to serve in the RCN until 1958 as a "Schoolie". Two of his proudest achievements during this period were the organization of the Post-War University Naval Training Division (UNTD) and the program preparation of the Regular Officer Training Plan (ROTP). He was awarded the Admirals' Medal in 1991. On retirement he joined the Federal Public Service serving in a number of capacities including from 1964 to 1971 as the bilingual Chief Editor of the Royal Commission on Pilotage. In a lifetime of service to his family, friends, community and church among his most distinguished contributions were his works with the Canadian Authors' Association (National President 1972-75, appointed Honourary President in 2001); the Canadian Writers' Foundation (Longest serving President from 1978 to 2001, thereafter appointed Honourary President); and All Saints' Anglican Church (Warden 1970 to 1983 and Lay Reader 1973 to 2001). He was awarded the Queen's Jubilee Medal in 1977. He published 10 historical works, a book of poetry, numerous articles and was a longtime contributor to the Canadian Geographical Society Journal (Fellow 1969). A former member of the Rideau Club, Royal Ottawa Golf Club and Rideau Curling Club, he authored definitive club histories and contributed many years of active involvement in various committees. A memorial service will be held at All Saints' Anglican Church (Laurier and Chapel), Ottawa at 11:00 a.m., on Friday, January 16th. Interment will be at Fernhill Cemetery, St. John, N.B. Many thanks to the dedicated staff at Rideau North 2 for their compassionate care of Cdr. Little during the last two years of his long and distinguished life. In lieu of flowers remembrances made to the charities of your choice would be appreciated by the family.
As a professional educator, Herbie Little (centre) was in his element as Staff Officer University Naval Training. As shown here at a mess dinner in 1950, it was a very happy time, but not without its trials and tribulations. As stated in his memoirs, he found the university professors very friendly while the pirates were in naval uniforms. Support for his concept of a future naval officer-training program was by no means general among senior officers. They were of the old Royal Navy sea-apprenticeship school of training and had little regard for university students, especially as depicted in "campus" movies. Senior Officers were constantly fretting about the effect the UNTD program would have on enrollment at Royal Military College and Royal Roads. Herbie believed that in the future, the navy as a profession would have to demand higher standards of education in its ranks and that is what made the UNTD so important. Somehow he had to make the senior officers understand that concept.
LETTERS TO THE EDITOR
Sep. 30, 2003
Thank you for including my UNTD Wedding Story in the Fall 2003 Issue of the UNTD Newsletter. There are a few minor details that I would like to correct. I was an Economics student (not Chemistry) at McMaster. As for meeting my wife Doris, I was acquainted with her through a friend, but we started dating after I saw her in Beacon Hill Park and invited her to a Royal Roads dance.
After our honeymoon, I began working with Bell Telephone in Hamilton but was transferred to Traffic Engineering in Toronto. My claim to fame was doing the initial cost studies on Direct Distance Dialing and writing up the equipment order for the first long distance direct dialing installation in Canada.
After nine years with Bell, I left to become a high school teacher of Economics and Mathematics. My grade 13 Economics course was one of the first, if not the first in Ontario. My course outline helped to form the subsequent Ministry guideline. Math was my real love, however, and I retired in 1993 as a mathematics teacher.
I lost Doris to cancer in July 2002 and must thank my three boys, their wives and seven grandchildren for helping me through that ordeal.
In 2003 I received the Queen’s Jubilee Medal for my community involvement. As for the UNTD, it was a very valuable and character forming experience for me as I am sure it was for everyone and I am pleased to become a member of your organization.
Tom Hutchings 1599 Lewisham Dr. Mississauga, ON L5J 3R2
Editor’s Note. Thanks to our UNTD Association member Al Hutchings for tracking down Tom and putting him in touch with us. It is always interesting to see the kind of success achieved by former UNTD cadets. ~
November 27, 2003
I spotted your UNTD message in NAVAIRGEN and went to your website. In 1961 while a Lieutenant (RCN), I was the senior Navigation Instructor in HMCS CORNWALLIS for the UNTD courses. I retired from the RCN, then the RAN, and now live in Nowra, NSW, Australia. One of my ex-UNTD students, now a doctor, Bob Watson also lives in this beautiful town. Just thought you might know him.
LCDR. "Bob" E. Geale MBE, RAN (rt’d) Bobgeale@telpacific.com.au
January 17, 2004
I found your UNTD webpage and enjoyed browsing the excellent nostalgic material, especially the Warrior Days story. I was stationed at York in the 1950s as a L/S and remember the piano mentioned in a newsletter. Does anyone remember CPO "Wiggy" Bennet, the wardroom steward?
As CERA of minesweeper squadron 1967-68, we had many classes of UNTDs cross our brow on Funday, Thunder, Chignecto and Challeur. One UNTD student of note was "Dusty Miller", now Admiral Miller of the Gulf Campaign in 1990-91. I enjoyed reading the Gulf War book, "Persian Excursion" per Commodore Miller. My wife and I had cadets to our RV at Grand Lake NS for a bit of R&R in ‘67. "Dusty" played a mean guitar and befriended Gordon Lightfoot because he played so well. I don’t see Dusty’s name or any member of his group in your membership list.
Neil Goodwill CD, CERA (rtd) Port Dover, ON. ~
January 4, 2004
I visited your interesting UNTD website in connection with a book that I am writing about the expansion and diversification of Canadian higher education during the 1950s and 1960s. The UNTD served effectively in many ways, including the way in which it provided a vehicle for many capable young people to attend university. Could you tell me the actual years during which the UNTD was in effect and is there a published work that provides an historical overview of the UNTD?
Edward B. Harvey, PhD
Professor of Policy Studies, U of T firstname.lastname@example.org
Editor’s Note. Website Manager, Bill Thomas replied:
In 1993 Bob Williamson published a 175 page general history of the UNTD augmented by a collection of personal anecdotes from former cadets across Canada. He has written a paper entitled, "The UNTD and Canadian Society" and as our Newsletter Editor has the greatest access to information about the UNTD.
Jim Speight has recently published "The UNTIDIES – Bonding a Nation", an uneven collection of personal reflections, formal documents, informal correspondence and some useful statistics.
DIEPPE MEMORIAL - UNTD Connection
On a blistering hot August day last year a beautiful new Dieppe Veteran’s Memorial was unveiled on Hamilton Beach overlooking the tranquil waters of Lake Ontario. Over half a century late, the excellent setting and design were well worth the wait. Of the 6,000 troops that took part in the raid on August 19, 1942, 90% were Canadians and 600 were members of the Royal Hamilton Light Infantry (RHLI). Of the Hamilton unit, 1/3 were killed, 1/3 were taken prisoner and 1/3 escaped back to England, many of them wounded.
Colonel Jim Forsyth and his committee of Hamilton veterans prepared an excellent plan that resulted in the country’s most outstanding Dieppe Memorial. A boulder beach was built up in front of a promenade sea wall that isolates the memorial plaza. The backdrop of the Skyway Bridge replicates the cliffs of the coast of France. The site is on the south side of the Burlington Ship Canal.
The memorial wall in the plaza tells the whole story of the Dieppe Raid and lists the number killed from each participating unit which included British Commandos, American Rangers, as well as the Air Force and Navy personnel. Of the long list of appalling casualties, one figure stands out as minimal, - RCN 1.
Herein lies the UNTD Connection with the Dieppe Raid. Lt. Bob McRae RCN of Toronto was in charge of training two flotillas of landing craft for the Dieppe Raid. One SLt was in charge of each craft and many of the crews were made up of Canadians.
On the eve of the "big show", one of the landing craft officers took ill and Bob stepped in to replace him as there were few others who had participated in the training exercises. His crew was made up of two Canadians. After landing his troops on shore, Bob’s craft was hit by a German shell, killing one of the crew. Hence, the memorial casualty list of - RCN 1.
Bob was badly wounded in the legs and was taken prisoner. He spent the next three years in a German Prisoner of War Camp. Upon his release he returned to Toronto and became a Professor of Philosophy at the University of Toronto, but most importantly, for our story, he became the Commanding Officer of the post-war UNTD at HMCS York – a post that he held for many years. Story related by Gil Hutton
The photographs below show the Dieppe Veteran’s Memorial on Hamilton Beach. Clockwise –1. The plaza memorial wall viewed from the park. 2. The beach view of the cobble stones leading up to the sea wall with the Skyway Bridge in the background. 3. The Memorial Park entrance plaque beside the waterfront walking trail with Lake Ontario in the background. Photos by Robert Williamson.
David Fry, UNTD University of Toronto 1951, Lieutenant RCN(R) (Rtd.) HMCS York, Charter Member of the UNTD Association, Editor of the UNTD Newsletter 1990-93, Coordinator of the Halifax UNTD Reunion 1993, President of the UNTD Association 1994-95 and friend to many, passed away last year. A master of the quick retort and humorous quotations, laughter was never far from David’s side. He was also a scholar, having done graduate work at Oxford University. He worked in his father’s stock brokerage firm, Burns Fry, then operated an Antique business, before setting up his own Business Consulting firm. David enjoyed the finer things of life and took particular pleasure in running an exclusive Bed & Breakfast in Cabbage Town.
Wherever he is, you can be sure he will be cheering the rest of us on with robust nautical terms while holding a tumbler of rum in one hand. "Goodbye David. Fair wind and following sea my friend." ~
REMEMBERING THE CADET REVUE
The Cadet Revue, a stage production of skits, glee clubs, comedy routines, solos, bands and drills was a UNTD phenomenon of the 1950s. It appeared to be an out-growth of the UNTD Glee Club of the late 1940s that was designed to excuse cadets from unpleasant physical exercise such as dog watch sports.
Association member Mac Shiner has this to say about the UNTD Cadet Revue. "I came across a 1959 Cadet Revue program while sifting through some old papers. It brought back some great memories of Royal Roads in the "Summer of 1959". It was a tough summer for me since I was CCC, but there were a number of wonderful occasions, like the Revue that helped to make the summer memorable.
I have been associated with many shows since, in various capacities, but none have touched me or reached me to the same degree that the UNTD Cadet Revue of 1959 did. In a word, it was superb. Superb amateur theatre that was spontaneous, sometimes brilliant and some times so terrible it was marvelous. I know that the good citizens of Victoria came out in large numbers and thoroughly enjoyed themselves."
The following is an extract from the program of the
UNTD CADET REVUE 1959 Producer / Musical Direction – G. Belisle, Director – M. Shiner, Stage Manager – D. Tingley, Lighting – G. Davidson, Props – D. Stone, Programmes – J Caron, Make Up – R. Ferguson, Publicity – G Sperling, Pianists – SLt R. Cleverdon / A. Frost, Precision Squad – SLt H. Davies. Glee Club Your Land and My Land / Honey Tied Up Autumn Concerto / Song of the Vagabonds Von Staden Aitken Lefebre Griffith Corrigan Denny Graham Gregor Lewis Ellis Hyde Dancy Allison Sperling McKenna Mayberly Kerr Field Davidson McKay O’Dwyer Harris Wilton McLean Muir Weale Williamson Murray Shiner
Precision Squad Cadets Taylor, McCutcheon, Allin, Carr, Carter, Sim, Blosdale, Wheeler. Musical Combo Accordionist – Taylor, Clarinets – Allin / Myer, Trumpet – Shiner, Drums – Aitken Nixon Trio Three Jolly Coachmen & Sloop John B Cadets Aitken, Shiner, Gregor, & Stone Solo Sorrento & Because G. Belisle Calypso Four Jamaica Farwell & Yellow Bird Cadets Wilton, Allison, Belisle, & Dancey Skits Don’t Take Your Guns to Town Clem Commander Whathead Tiajuana Siesta Crossed Wires Tragedie of LCdr McBeth
Corps de Ballet Pas de Quatorze to Les Sylphides Cadets McGarry, Birdsell, Harris, Ricketts, Frost, Noble, Daughney, Muir, Brown, O"Dwyer, Murray, Dancey, McKay, McCabe.
The UNTD Association of Canada publishes this newsletter twice a year. Send letters, anecdotes, or suggestions to Newsletter Editor:
CDR Robert Williamson, 1 Clonmore Ave., Hamilton, Ontario. L9A 4R2;
Phone (905) 383-6084 or email@example.comVISIT THE UNTD WEB SITEhttp:www.untd.org/Printed by Stirling Print-All, Hamilton, ON. Back issues of this newsletter are available by contacting the editor.