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Difficult Decisions

Heroes Remember

As people got closer to rotation, people would naturally get a little more apprehensive about patrolling, at least a lot of people would, not everybody. My one very difficult job as a platoon commander was near the time that 1st Battalion was rotating. I had a man who had been in the infantry environment, in a rifle company environment, for most of his term. He was a Lance Corporal and he was within, I guess, about a week of going home and it was my job to select two patrols for outpost. In other words, going out to listen and observe. One was a strict outpost the other was to be a sort of a liaison with our own battalion on the right, because at this point I was serving with the RCR. My company had been sent to the RCR. And this fellow refused to go and I said, “Look there is really no choice. I have kept very careful records of whose turn it is to go.” And I said, “Corporal, it’s your turn and if you don’t go somebody else is going to have to go twice.” And I said, “I won’t allow that. Everybody does their job here until the job ends and our job is not over. You go there or you’re going to the company Commander.” And I said, “Your choice.” He said, “I can’t go and I said, “Okay if that’s your last word I’m gonna call the company Sergeant Major and you’re gonna go and see the company Commander.” I had another Corporal escort him up to the Sergeant Major. The Sergeant Major charged him. The man went before the company Commander and that’s the last I heard of him. I don't know what happened. My guess is that he was sent to the CO, was given 28 days in the field detention barracks, which was a hell of a thing to ... hell of a place as far as punishment was concerned and I don' t know what happened to him after that, but I felt very sorry for him. I could not make an exception. We were so thin on the ground at that point. I don’t think my platoon was any more than about 19 or 20 men at that point, and I had to pick about six that night to go out. We’d pick six the night six the night before maybe more than that the night before. You know everybody had to take their turn and there would be no exceptions because once you did it, I didn’t know where you’d stop it. I hated to do it, but I did it.

Mr. Pitts speaks about the apprehension felt when reporting one of his infantry soldiers who refused duty.

Herbert Pitts

Mr Pitts was born in Nelson, British Columbia in June of 1929. After graduating from high school, he entered a four-year program of the Canadian Services College at Royal Roads, graduating from the Royal Military College in June 1952. He was commissioned as a Lieutenant, in the Lord Strathcona's Horse (Royal Canadians). On arrival in Korea in July, he served for a year as an Infantry Platoon Commander with 1st and 3rd Battalions of Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry. He was awarded the Military Cross for Gallantry and Leadership with that Regiment. Mr. Pitts remained in the Forces serving with The Queen's Own Rifles of Canada and the Canadian Airborne Regiment. He traveled extensively during his service, retiring as a Major General from National Defence Headquarters in 1978.

Meta Data
Veterans Affairs Canada
Person Interviewed:
Herbert Pitts
War, Conflict or Mission:
Korean War
Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry (PPCLI)
Platoon Commander

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