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Army Commanders Course

Heroes Remember

Army Commanders Course

The war was, was pretty well over, everything was closing down and one day the Colonel came to me and he said “Would you like to go on a course to England?” Would I like... would I like to go on a course to England. He said “I’d have to make you major." I said “Fine, fine no problem lets go.” So I said “What kind of course is it?” It’s an army commanders course. That’s fine as long as it’s close to London I could just see the London pubs and the, I was gonna have the time of my life. It’s been years since I was there and this was gonna be a, a really big ball. I went got on the aircraft. The aircraft had seats down either side and you sat. You never knew it was moving until they took off and it landed and then you left your seat and went out. went off into the airport in England. I walked along and these two English waafs at the women’s army corp and they were there talking and laughing. I hadn’t heard that for ages and I went over to where they were you know and just stood there for a second, listening to them. It was beautiful! Suddenly they saw me you know and I felt as stupid as hell and I saluted them back and ran then to the transport office to get out of there fast. I got to the transport office. I showed them my documents. What I was supposed to do, where I was supposed to go and what have you. I just hoped that it was close to London. He said “Yes, wait a moment Major Murray, I’ll send, send you over in a station wagon.” I thought aha it must be close to here, either that or the crown up here is, is having some effect. So finally the station wagon came and I got in it and they started to, off along the highway, but they weren’t heading close to London. They weren’t heading anywhere close that I could see and we went for quite a little ways until we came to a big estate and he pulled into that and said “Here’s where the course is.” Not a town within miles, way from London, way from anywhere, way out in the country. So I went in and there was a couple of Generals sitting there and you know, I went up to, to the girl who was at a desk there and gave her my credentials. She said “Oh yes, Mr. or Major Murray. You’re the Canadian on the course.” Canadian on the course? She gave me some leaflets and said this the Celebes. She’s telling me where to go for the, to get information on the subjects on the course and she said you’ll be, you’ll have to share the room with Brigadier so and so. Suddenly something you know, something is wrong here and I suddenly realized that this course, Army Commanders course, was to command an army and what the hell am I doing here you know. So I took the stuff that I had, completely baffled and went over to, to my room. I met the Brigadier there and he shook my hand. He was a Brigadier from the British Guards and he was quite friendly when he found out that I was from a Canadian Guards and he asked where my back men were staying? I said “I didn’t bring a back man with me.” and he said “Well my back man will look after you too.” and he did and it was, I was never looked after so well in all my life. My pants were pressed, my shoes were shined so you could see them, my coffee was there for me when I woke up in the morning. It was just perfect. However on Monday we started our course. We introduced ourselves and then the General taking the course started asking questions and..., correct answer, very good, very good and he was having problems getting a right answer for one of his questions and he happened to say Major Murray. This startled me. Unfortun, well fortunately I had read up on it when I studied that weekend and I knew the textbook answer. So I repeated the textbook answer to him and “Good Major Murray excellent.” and he went on with the other questions and he ran into trouble again. And as he couldn’t get the answer he said “Major Murray.” and I knew the textbook answer again and I gave it to him. At this time all the Generals were looking around to see who the hell that Canadian Major was going to take over the Canadian army you know and that was the last of what was going on, but the problem with that was I started this charade I couldn’t let them know how bloody stupid I really was. And I studied every night til late to the morning learning all this stuff so they wouldn’t know what a stupid I really was. But one of the interesting things there was that at the bar I never in my wildest imagination would be there with a bunch of generals calling them Hank and Bill and Chuck. Never in my wildest dream would this ever happen to me. I studied like mad and when the course was over the top three names were put up and mine stood second. The other generals came and congratulated me and I was very pleased and I guess that the highlight of my military career except I felt that I had been cheated out of my holiday in Britain some how I told the Brigadier I was with that I wanted to have fun in in London and here I was stuck down here and he said that he would take me to the guards club in London and that I could stay in his room. He had a room there. So I thought well hey that’s not too bad. So he took me down to the guards club and gave me his room. I looked in his closet, the most marvellous uniforms you’ve ever seen, beautiful uniforms. I went downstairs to the lounge and it was like a movie. There were white servants moving along there, beautiful naturally dressed, taking silver trays with scotch on it just like you’d see in a movie. However , I was looking for the bar and I saw the bar and there’s a couple of officers there having a good time, laughing and what have you. I thought I’d go down and join them. So I went down to the, to where they were and a couple of guards men 1 Pipps. The moment I came, straight to attention “Yes Sir. No Sir.” and finally I left. That’s just not my idea of a riotous time in London

As the end of the war nears, Mr. Murray is promoted to Major and sent to England to take a course designed for army commanders. He discovers it's not where he wants to be.

Robert Murray

Robert Murray was born in Toronto, Ontario on February 8, 1918. His father was Inspector of Detectives of the Toronto police force. Mr. Murray had six brothers and sisters. He was the second youngest.

Meta Data
Veterans Affairs Canada
Person Interviewed:
Robert Murray
War, Conflict or Mission:
Second World War
48th Highland Regiment

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