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The Harshest Judges

Heroes Remember

The regular army and the NATO commitment started to grow and they stabilised, or they solidified perhaps instead of . . . we didn’t know how long we were gonna be in Germany. It turned out that it had been a very long time, but we didn’t, we knew then how long we’d been to Korea and we were finished in Korea and we came back. So I was called to the colonel and he says,“Do you wanna think about it?” I said, “No, where do I sign?” So one of the things that I would always say was, you know, that being an army officer, particularly an infantry officer, is a little more than a job, it’s almost like a calling, you know and I say it’s the closest thing to priesthood you could find, which would upset some of them, but most of them would understand it. I don't know your own self-esteem, I guess, and once you find out that your comfortable leading men, and women, but we didn’t have very many in those days, there were nurses and that was about it. And somehow that the people under you respect that and they’re the ones really that will make up your career because you can go down in flames a lot quicker if your own troops stop supporting you than the officers above you. Now a lot of people don’t understand that either and to me, that’s the harshest judges are your own troops. They’re not the Prime Minister and the people above you. When you get up to be a very senior officer they start to know you because they heard about you and they may have to sanction certain appointments that you’re sent to. But other than that, you know, you’re just part of the army. But to the troops under you, if you’re the boss, at whatever level, they know what you’re doing and they can probably affect your career a lot more than people realize. So it’s, in my case, well, I was comfortable, liked it, was tough physically. I was pretty tough physically, and very healthy. I don’t mind sleeping outside, I mean, a little less today but, you know... but I don’t know, good, good manly life.

Mr. Belzile discusses how your troops can ruin your career quicker than your superiors.

Charles Belzile

Lt.-Gen. Charles Belzile was born in Trois-Pistoles, Quebec, on March 12, 1933. As a youth, he was exposed to the armed forces as troop trains passed by his home during the Second World War. He joined the reserves, then the regular force with the Royal Hamilton Light Infantry in 1951. In 35 years of service, Lt.-Gen. Belzile has served in Korea, Germany, Cyprus and Canada. His appointments have included regimental duties with the Queen’s Own Rifles, Commanding Officer of the Second Battalion Royal 22e Régiment, Commander 4th Canadian Mechanized Group and Canadian Forces Europe in Germany. Since retiring from the Canadian Armed Forces, he has held numerous posts as a consultant and honorary chair. Mr. Belzile Chaired the VAC 60th Anniversary Committee on VE-Day commemorations and was Grand President of the Royal Canadian Legion. International honours include Commander of the Legion of Honour of France and recipient of the Vimy Award.

Meta Data
Veterans Affairs Canada
Person Interviewed:
Charles Belzile
War, Conflict or Mission:
Canadian Armed Forces
Queen's Own Rifles of Canada
Lieutenant General

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