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First Day Failure

Heroes Remember

I worked as a labourer, pushing a wheel barrow, mixing mortar. I worked on, like, the Halifax library. I worked on Mount Saint Vincent for a while. Then, I’m not sure, I might have worked two weeks on the VG when they were first filling it, you see. And most of that was just since I got tired of that, I said, “I'm going in service.” Get away from my father, he was too strict. Take all my pay when I get paid, take it all and give me a couple of dollars, tell me it’s got to last me for a week, you know. So, I went down, went down three days. I failed the first day I went down. And my buddy said, “Didn’t you pass?” I said, “No, I failed.” He said, “Go back tomorrow.” I said, “I failed today. How am I going to pass it tomorrow?” He said, “Do like what I did.” They have all the chisels and hammers. Well, I didn’t know nothing about that so I … I went back. He says, “Just mark in the ones you don’t know and keep on going.” And that’s what I did. The sergeant said - he knew, too - he said, “You made it today, but you didn’t make it yesterday.” But that’s … that’s what I did, and that’s how I got in. The next time, I had to go for a medical. Down at Stadacona over here. And then, on the third day, I … my father didn’t know what was going on. I just told him I was sick. Third day I went down, he said, “You going to work?” I said, “I can’t.” He said, “What do ya mean?” I said, “I’m going away today.” He said, “Where are you going?” I said, “I’m going on the train. I’m going to a place called Petawawa.” “Petawawa?” he said, “What’s that? Where’s that?” I said, “It’s an army camp." And I said, “You can’t get me out, because I already signed the papers and they told me if I don’t, I’ll go to jail.” So he said, “Okay then.” But my father should have checked and found out … had to be a certain age to go. And a friend of mine got some Carter’s ink. There was two types of it. You put it on and you just rubbed the two out and put a one there, you see, and that made me eligible. So, that’s what I did, and I went to Petawawa. I was seventeen, I think, because I was eighteen when I went to Korea, and I was in for pretty near a year before I went over to Korea.

Mr. Niles talks about his first job as a labourer and about joining the Canadian Army.

Joseph Allan Niles

Mr. Joseph Allan Niles was born December 15, 1932, in Halifax, Nova Scotia, the oldest of four children. His father enlisted for service during the First World War, but was released for medical reasons, and found work in the dockyards. Mr. Niles grew up in downtown Halifax, and at age fourteen, he left school to work as a labourer, working on many buildings in the Halifax area. Mr. Niles enlisted on May 4, 1951, at age 17, with the Canadian Armed Forces in Halifax. He became part of a Special Force with the Royal Canadian Regiment, serving in Korea. He commenced his basic training in Camp Petawawa, Ontario, and completed his advanced training in Camp Wainwright, Alberta. In March 1952, Mr. Niles left for Korea, first travelling by train to British Columbia, then to Seattle, Washington, where he boarded a troop ship to Japan and Korea. Mr. Niles took part in fighting patrols and saw action on the front lines in Korea. After his one year tour of duty was completed, he volunteered for an additional three year term in the army, and remained in Korea until the end of October, 1953. He was discharged from the Armed Forces in June, 1954, and settled in Montreal where he found a job with the railroad. His employment later took him to Truro, Nova Scotia. Mr. Niles died in the Veteran’s Memorial Hospital in Halifax, on April 30, 2007.

Meta Data
Veterans Affairs Canada
Person Interviewed:
Joseph Allan Niles
War, Conflict or Mission:
Korean War
Royal Canadian Regiment

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