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Development of Unified Canadian Forces Salute

Heroes Remember

Development of Unified Canadian Forces Salute

Our beloved minister, Pallier had pushed the, pushed the envelope saying we need to change the salute, because as you know the navy and the army and the air force all had different salutes, so it was being proposed by the director of training at that time, a full colonel, Radley Walters, he was tasked to come up with a different salute and the two that were, forty-five degree angle or the straight arm. He had to demonstrate this to the Chief of the General Staff, General Jean Victor Allard, who commanded the 4th Division in Germany at one time, British division, with a script. And Macleod called my boss again and said "Ethell looks pretty sharp in a uniform, he's gonna demonstrate this." So I was given a script and Linda would read the script and I would stand in front of the mirror and when it said navy and this and my arm was going up and down like a ping pong ball, leading to the culmination of what do you recommend colonel? And it was the one that they have today. The story doesn't stop there; I've got to tell this story, we at the certain time got the call, remember I'm a sergeant he's a full colonel and he's big, mean, ugly, a very famous army core colonel. He said "Ok, we're gonna go in there and you're gonna just follow my script, got it?" "Yes sir."And the general was sitting there, there was just the three of us in the office, there wasn't even an aid there and went through the script and went like this. And the general said, this was the recommendation, he said "Well Sergeant do you like the recommendation?" I said, " No sir", he says "Why?" and I said "Well I like to see the exposed palm." Because that was what I was brought up on, you're not holding an arm. He says "Oh, alright, well I can't do anything about this, I'm going to have to take it to the defence council, carry on". So I march myself out, well when the colonel came up, and remember this was his recommendation, we, lets put it this way, we had a one sided conversation and the only word, two words I got in at the end of this tirade was "Yes, Sir." Like next time you're asked your opinion don't say anything. Let me leap ahead 3 weeks and we now appear before the defence council, with General Allard all the heads of states, the three stars or whatever, sergeant, I don't know who they were, there was just a whole bunch of people in there and the minister sitting at the end of the table, same script, same reader, same model, going up and down like a ping pong ball and damned if Hellier (sp?) didn't say the same question, pose the same question. "Well Sergeant, do you like it?" and I said "Yes, Sir." Jean Victor Allard who had heard the first answer said in rather blunt terms and in language I won't use here, "Just what did you expect him to say?" As it turned out, that salute that they have today, was accepted as a, on a trial basis for a year and I bet you a months wages that it's technically still on trial, because I don't think they'd ever bring it up again. I don't know, maybe I'm selling them short. That's the story of the salute.

Mr Ethell describes involvement in the process of developing the new salute for the Unified Canadian Forces.

Donald Stewart Ethell

Donald Stewart Ethell was born in July 1937 and was raised in Victoria, BC. His father was a Veteran of both the First and Second World Wars. His mother was a nurse. He and his sister attended boarding school because of his parents' jobs and he was only home at Christmas and during the summer. His mother passed away when Mr. Ethell was 10 years old.

When he enlisted, Mr. Ethell joined the Queen's Own Rifles in Calgary. After several years of serving as an infantryman he was recommended for the officer training. Mr. Ethell graduated from the program and rose to the rank of Colonel. He went on to command Canadian, and United Nations, forces in various missions all over the world. In the mid 1990s, Col. Ethell retired with over thirty-five years of distinguished service.

Meta Data
Veterans Affairs Canada
Person Interviewed:
Donald Stewart Ethell
War, Conflict or Mission:
Canadian Armed Forces
Queen's Own Rifles of Canada

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