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Basic Training

Heroes Remember

It was discipline. The discipline was started right there and, you know, a few tricks are played on you immediately, and stuff like that. So, we all went and had supper. We got shown around by the sergeant. Then we had supper and here I didn’t have a spoon. Yet I was issued with a spoon, a knife, fork and spoon and mess things. But I missed my fork and a spoon and I needed them to eat. So everybody was looking at me. I wasn’t the only one, you know, the odd guy got, learnt it quick, you know, how he missed his own tools, like eating tools and stuff, and how to look after them. So, they all start looking at me, and the sergeant looks at me, and he says, “What’s the matter?” And I said “I can’t, I need a spoon.” And he said, “You also need a fork?” “Yeah,” I said, “I need a fork, too. I gotta eat that stuff they got dished out here. I have to use a fork for that and a spoon for this.” He says, “Well, I’ll tell you something. I was downtown last night.” And everybody’s laughing away, you know. And he says, “I just happened to steal a spoon and I got it in my pocket here, and I got a fork too and I stole it from the city café. I shouldn’t tell anybody this, but that’s where I stole these. What’s good for Jim is good for Jack.” He says, “Here. Here’s a fork and a spoon.” I thanked him for it. That was my first trick pulled on me, you know, and then after that, it was... discipline was something else. And, of course, I got used to it. And the first day I marched with a, with a rifle. And, my first payday I just couldn’t believe it. I got $33 and I didn’t have a month in the army, I had three weeks. They gave me $33. I said, “Holy God.” Well, I had to hold my rifle, march up. They pulled a desk outside. They put it on the Parade Square and you had to march up to the officer, pick up your money, the pay officer, in one hand and they showed you how to salute the butt. Salute, you see and when you’re saluting with a rifle - when you’re saluting with your hand you’re saluting here, but you haven’t got a rifle on you. When you have a rifle on you, you salute to the small of the butt. And that’s when I learned how to sharpen up, you know. As time went by, I started sharpening up. I liked the army.

Mr. Schreyer talks about his experience in basic training as a new recruit and the discipline he had to learn.

Henry Schreyer

Mr. Henry Schreyer was born August 30th, 1923 in Winnipeg, Manitoba. He was raised on the family farm in Beausejour, Manitoba where he lived through the Depression of the 1930s. Mr. Schreyer left the family farm and moved to Ontario where on Aug 6, 1941 he decided to join the Canadian Forces. His first choice was the Canadian Navy but, because he would have had to return home before they would take him, he joined the Canadian Army and was taken into service right away. Mr. Schreyer did his basic training in Portage La Prairie, Manitoba and soon after was assigned to the Royal Canadian Engineers. He trained in Victoria, BC before travelling across Canada for deployment to Europe and active duty. He was part of the D-Day landings, served throughout the Normandy campaign, and spent time with the army of occupation in Germany at the end of the Second World War. Mr. Schreyer was released from the Canadian Army and travelled quite extensively, working in a variety of different occupations; farmer, mover and “beating the rods”. In 1952, Mr. Schreyer re-enlisted with the Canadian Army and joined the Royal Canadian Regiment. He served as an Honour Guard on Parliament Hill for the induction of the First Canadian Governor General. Mr Schreyer served as a volunteer in the Korean War. His journey took him via Japan to Pusan, then north to serve on the Jamestown Line. During his service, Mr. Schreyer was wounded and transferred from the front lines. Eventually, because of his injuries, he decided to leave the Canadian Army. After his service, he went back to his earlier occupation as a mover. He took up a career in packing and receiving and then as a transport driver.

Meta Data
Veterans Affairs Canada
Person Interviewed:
Henry Schreyer
War, Conflict or Mission:
Second World War
Royal Canadian Engineer
Sapper (Private in the Engineers)

Copyright / Permission to Reproduce

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