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Selecting The Troops

by ateamwar

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

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

The Royal Rifles of Canada, from Quebec City, were under the command of Lt. Col. William James Home. The Winnipeg Grenadiers, were under the command of Lt. Col. J.L.R. Sutcliffe. Both Battalions selected were placed under the unified command of recently promoted Canadian Brigadier General J.K. Lawson from Ottawa, Ontario, who, by odd coincidence, had been assigned the task of writing the combat fitness reports on various units in the Canadian Army. He had judged both the Royal Rifles and the Grenadiers as unfit. Now ... he was their Commanding Officer.
It has been said that The Royal Rifles of Canada and the Winnipeg Grenadiers lacked training and equipment. However the Royal Rifles had almost one full year of duty under their web belts during which they trained constantly. The 212 vehicles they had been assigned were placed aboard a freighter called the Don Jose which left Vancouver a few days after the troops and was to follow them to Hong Kong. The ship was diverted to Manila after Pearl Harbor was attacked and the equipment was used by the Americans in the defense of the Philippines. There was no way to replace them and any new equipment issued was destined for Europe
equipment was used by the Americans in the defense of the Philippines. There was no way to replace them and any new equipment issued was destined for Europe where there was a war already underway. The Canadians were definitely short of equipment and supplies.
The Royal Rifles of Canada and the Winnipeg Grenadiers had been trained in the use of the basic standard issue weapons available to the infantry at that time. Because of the nature of their posting the Royal Rifles perhaps had a slight edge in training. Infantry training means getting to know your basic weapon inside and out. Soldiers took them apart, put them together again until it could be done blind folded. Shooting them was another story. Shooting live ammunition was ... expensive.
No soldier in any army came out of basic training with a guarantee stamped on his forehead saying, "Under any battle conditions, even in the face of savage enemy fire, this soldier shall perform according to Military Specifications defining skills, and courage, and determination as outlined in K.R. Army, Section 007, or double the cost of training cheerfully refunded." It didn't happen then, and it doesn't happen now.

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