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Barracks Life

Heroes Remember


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It was an interesting time because the location was in southern Ontario. Centralia is up around Lake Huron and we lived in barracks, wooden, old wooden barracks, on hard metal beds, had tile floors and those beds had to be made every morning when you're out of them. The floors had to be polished and it was a very strict regiment and if you can imagine in June, in July on a very hot humid summer in southern Ontario, what it was like. You got very little in the way of sleep at night because it was so hot, and being from the Maritimes, I mean, to me the heat was just over bearing and that was before the days of air conditioning in barracks so that was another indication. So that you always started the day a bit exhausted. And from there it just went down hill because there was all sorts of physical training and I'd say probably fifty percent of the training was physical. The drill and the physical education and so on. But we persisted and got through. One of the things that was of interest was that we had to have an inspection every morning. We turned out and we were fully in uniform for the day and you were inspected and some days you would be so warm that, and we had to have our shoes so highly polished that we had a lot of polish on them, that the polish would melt. And they gave us uniforms that were, a summer uniform at that time was a carky colour, and every night you had to press it. One of the things that happened with this particular material when you pressed it, it turned pink and you could tell who was pressing their pants because they were the ones, it was getting more and more pink and more visible so there were various things that you could do. You know, you could always try and get another pair of pants from a senior cadet or something like that. Then in our building, we were four to a room and each of us over the period we developed a routine where the floor was polished, you polished the floor every morning. We dusted, one person would dust. We'd make the beds and, you know, it's been chronicled in movies and so on that the sergeant comes in and it was once again, the sergeant who would come in and do the inspections with an officer. An officer was almost a curse with inspection but the sergeant was the one that did the in-depth one and the old quarter trick, out came the quarter and you had to have your bed so that when he flipped the quarter on it would bounce. And if it didn't he just ripped it apart and you did it over again. But it was an interesting and a very team work building exercise and comradery was very high. With everybody knowing that the objective was to get through this period and get on to the aircraft.

Mr. Peters describes various aspects of living in barracks and how this experience helped the men to bond.

Walter Peters

Walter Peters, the youngest of six children, was born in Litchfield, Nova Scotia in 1937. A graduate of Mount Allison University, he worked for the Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation before enlisting in the Royal Canadian Air Force at age twenty-four and entering pilot training. After receiving his commission and wings, Mr. Peters enjoyed a distinguished career on many levels. He was Canada’s first black jet fighter pilot and an A1 flying instructor. He was involved in the development of the Snowbirds and later flew with them. At Trenton, Mr. Peters piloted Hercules cargo aircraft on assorted missions around the globe, and it was here that he also became the Canadian Armed Forces’ first Human Rights Officer. As advisor to the United Nations Security Council, Mr. Peters offered advice on the tactical movement of troops by air, and analysed and briefed the Council after the Russian shootdown of a Korean civilian jet in 1983. He retired holding the rank of Major.

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Veterans Affairs Canada
Person Interviewed:
Walter Peters
Air Force

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