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First Day Wasn't My Best

Heroes Remember

First Day Wasn't My Best

I, I was really fortunate. I joined the Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry in October, 1964. I joined here, at number ten recruiting depot, here in Calgary, at Currie Barracks. And I went through my medical exams, I had no difficulty passing any of the tests, and I was shipped off to Edmonton to join the Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry. Having arrived there, I, I have to say, it was my first day in, in a battalion setting in the depot, where I really decided, maybe I'd made the wrong choice. I had just gathered all of my equipment, I had dragged and carried all this heavy load of equipment back to the depot, to the small block where I was staying. And I was told to grab my boots and a brush and the boot polish and go sit outside my room and polish my boots. I didn't know anything about spit polish, the only thing I had ever used boot polish for was occasionally to put on your shoes and then just brush shine them. As I was doing this, sitting on my barrack box, down the hall came a clickety click, clickety click, clickety click. The heels of two people rounded the corner, and as they passed me there was a deep voice saying, "Get up to attention!" I didn't have a clue who these people were, what attention was, let alone what I was expected to do. I stood up, and the voice said, "Aren't you going to say good morning to the CO and adjutant?" So I said, "Good morning CO and adjutant" And that started my training. I ended up meeting RSM, 'Mick the Stick', a gentleman who I've learned to respect and love and to honour, as he was a true RSM. He had me backed over my barrack box, and he was just giving me heck, and I shouldn't have addressed the CO and the adjutant as "Good morning CO and adjutant", it was ‘Sir' to them. And I said, "Fine, thank you kindly." And he said, "Now, I want you to get a haircut." I said, "Very good." He called the depot Sergeant over, the depot Sergeant explained to me I just had to cross that thing that looked like a parking lot, and in that building at the other side, I would find the barber shop. And I would, was to get a proper military hair cut. I said, "Fine." Off I went, walking across the parking lot, and all of a sudden the windows were opening, doors were opening, people were running at me shouting and screaming and using such language that I hadn't really been accustomed to. And all of a sudden there was this great voice behind me again, "Leave him to me! I'll deal with him!" And it was my friend, 'Mick the Stick', he walked me up to the barber shop, informed me that I had just walked across his parade square, it was hallowed ground, and the only time, if I was lucky, I would be able to walk on that parade square, would be during one of his parades. The rest of the time, I was to use the roadway. I thanked him for that and I walked into the barber shop and he took off his hat and he said "Give him a proper hair cut, like mine." He was bald. So the barber was very kind and said, "Yes, sir." And the NCO, the corporal who had been sitting in the barber chair, the RSM said, "Your haircut's good enough." And the corporal got up and left and I took his place. By the time I finished, I had little or no hair on my head, my hat that had been issued really didn't fit anymore, and I wandered quite carefully back to my barrack block. When I arrived at my barrack block, I had two gentlemen there to meet me. One was Lance Corporal Arthurson, George Arthurson, and the other was Lance Corporal Raymond Anderson, known as the 'Brow.' And they informed me that the RSM had instructed them to ensure that I cause no more trouble and they were to prepare me to be a proper soldier. That was probably the best thing that ever happened to me. Today I still honour those two gentlemen, they are my best friends, and Brow Anderson on his 21st birthday jumped out of an aircraft on D-Day, on the 6th of June. George Arthurson has served on many peacekeeping operations, and if it wasn't for their guidance, I don't think I would have stayed in the army, because that first day really wasn't my best. But it was a wonderful day, because I, even today, have them as my best friends. So I was quite fortunate.

Mr Borchert recalls his first day in the military, explaining how he kept getting into trouble because he didn’t know proper procedures or protocol.

Ed Borchert

Mr. Borchert was born in 1944, in Red Deer, Alberta. In 1964, Mr Borchert joined the Forces at Currie Barracks in Calgary and became a member of the Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry (PPCLI).Throughout his 31 years of service, Mr. Borchert served overseas and in every province in Canada. He remains very proud of his service, and appreciative toward the Canadian military for the opportunities it provided him.Mr. Borchert ended his career as the Regimental Major of the PPCLI and began fighting for Veterans rights. Today he holds the position of president of the National Metis Veterans Association campaigning and working for his people to gain recognition and benefits for their military service to Canada.

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Veterans Affairs Canada
Person Interviewed:
Ed Borchert
Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry (PPCLI)

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