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by ateamwar

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Archive List > British Army

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People in story: 
Major Maurice Albert Parker
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Contributed on: 
01 August 2005

The following story appears courtesy of and with thanks to Ronald Parker and Father
Major Maurice Albert Parker:

A soldier was taught, "must know, should know, and could know". He must know how to use, how to maintain, and how to make minor repairs to the basic weapon, his rifle. He should know about other weapons he would probably have to use: Bren guns, grenades, etc. He could know about weapons he might come in contact with, Lewis guns, Vickers guns, or mortars. Not every soldier in a platoon had to know everything about every weapon the company might have in its inventory.

"Your rifle is your best friend. Take care of it and it will take care of you." This credo was drilled into every soldier's head. In truth...not a lot more was required. Modern techniques of infantry were developed during and after WWII. The most important thing taught was the need for absolute discipline. When bullets fired in anger begin to fly over a man's head and he stays to do the job, he is a soldier. Before that, he is just a guy in uniform. When the bullets began to crack overhead in Hong Kong, the Canadians showed they had discipline in abundance. In that regard they were the equal of any troops in the garrison. The Canadians went to Hong Kong short of just about everything ...except courage. They went to defend a position of dubious military value, but an undeniable financial gold mine, against impossible odds.

Brigadier F.T. Atkinson, who was a Major during the Battle of Hong Kong said about the training: "I doubt if any battalions left Canada with better trained officers than we had." About courage he said: "We fought just as well as any British soldier."

In the words of Rifleman John Beebe of "D" Company, Royal Rifles of Canada, No.18 Platoon: "I don't mind telling you right now, in the face of those stories about how badly trained, ill-equipped Canadian soldiers who were supposed to have been at Hong Kong, as far as our outfit went, that was a lot of nonsense. We had a tough fighting outfit, well led, and well trained. The training started in Sussex, and it kept right up."

'This story was submitted to the People’s War site by BBC Radio Merseyside’s People’s War team on behalf of the author and has been added to the site with his / her permission. The author fully understands the site's terms and conditions.'

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