|My LAD was provided with a Truck, 15-cwt, Machinery "KL". This vehicle, used by RCEME for electric welding in the field. Our KL contained in addition to the electric welding unit an auwiliary power outlet for hand held tools such as a drill or a grinder. We supplemented this equipment with a complete oxy-acetylene welding outfit that was primarily used for cutting and brazing. The KL was vulnerable with a radiator at each end. This was Bill's and Red's pride and joy.|
|In the matter of beverages, the Canadians were given tea. The rations for most part were British, the scale being modified somewhat to suet Canadian taste. The tea was canned and already had powdered milk and sugar added. To Canadians, this was a hot dring - not tea. Bill Pearson and his helper, Red Hamilton who favored strong black tea found that if the issue tea was thrown on top of a basin of cold water the tea leaves would float and the powdered milk and sugar would sink. They skimmed off the leaves and dried them. Their method of brewing their favourite beverage was to throw a handful of tea leaves in a Spam can of water. An Oxyacetylene torch applied with care to the side of the Spam can produced the brew in double quick time. the Spam can measured about four inches square and about ten inches high.|
|One of the many problems my fellow LAD officers and I faced in a theater of war was the demand to carry out research and development projects on behalf of a senior officer (not the regimental COs). R&D was definitely outside of terms of reference of the First and Second Echelons of Maintenance. Provision was made for a limited larger amount at Base. A limited amount of R&D in the broadest sense was inevitable in building prototypes. One such project was my welder, Bill Pearson winning the best design in the Division for protective flooring abainst mines for Humber scout cars. Any unit with these scout cars had a personal interest in this project. Bill's design saved the legs, if not the lives, of some of out people, who incidentally, came to thank Bill for saving their legs and lives.|
|Cpl Bill Pearson had an unfortunate accident on Jan. 12, 45 while welding inside the turret of a tank. His welding rod touched the casing of a round of smoke for the 75mm gun. Fortunately the charge in smoke rounds is quite small. Bill had quite a time inside the turret, blinded by the smoke from the tound that bounced around the turret before he was able to get out with the assistance of Red Hamilton. Bill was evacuated to hospital with smoke inhalation and injured eyes. Fortunately he made a satisfactory recovery and rejoined us in a couple of weeks.
Without apology, In Medias Res again. Writing above about Bill Pearson has decided me to collect together and record a few memories about the oldest member of the LAD but how much older wasn't really appreciated until some time previous. A letter was received by the Regiment from The House of Commons and was sent on to me to answer. The letter was a Ministerial Inquiry!
I had mentioned more than once to Bill that he should be a sergeant but there was no way I could do this as the LAD was only allowed a corporal welder. Bill who was a professional welder with a construction firm in peace time, did not have another trade. He understood the circumstances. In a letter home to his daughter (webadmin's mother)he told her that on more than on one occasion, I had commented that I was more than pleased with his work and that I thought that he should be a sergeant.
Bill's daughter thought so too for she wrote a letter, probably to her MP. The letter was forwarded to the Minister of National Defence and resulted in a Ministerial Inquiry for me to explain, that if her father was that gook, why wasn't her father a sergeant? She went on to say that she was between 35-38 years old (as near as I can recall) and her father was a veteran of WWI. That latter piece of information was a shock indeed as Bill was in my records as 40 years old.
When I confronted Bill with the Minister's letter, he sat down in the nearest chair. He was terribly embarrassed.
"I'm sorry Captain. Iknow I can't be a sergeant as there isn't an establishment for a Sgt. welder in the LAD."
"OK Bill, I'll answere the letter on that point, but let me ask you this. The letter says your daughter is "35" and you are in my book as 40, and are you in fact a veteran of The First World War?"
At this time the miliitary had a blitz going that anyone having medals, must wear their ribbons.
"No, sir." The conversation degenerated ino a "Yes you will & No I won't" routine until Bill came up with the clinching argument.
If I put up my ribbons you will lose me on account of my age and I will not be able to go into EUROPE with you."
"Bill, you are NOT to put up your ribbons!"
Bill Pearson became a Father to all of us. One day I got a beneral duties reinforcement, Pte HJ "Red" Hamilton. I was at loss shat to do with him. I had no establichment for mim. Red told me he had just come out of the "Glass House" a British Army prison for sentences of six months or longer. He told me he was convicted of stealing blankets and that he was innocent. Bill suggested to me that he take Red under his wing and train him into a competent welder. Red became Bill's partner for the rest of the war. Red was well liked by all who came in contact with him.
One day Red went on 7 days leave to London. The British Military Police picked him up for not having his hooks done up. The hooks were at the neck of his uniform. The "Red Caps" returned him to the LAD and told him charges would follow.
The charges came. I asked Red why he didn't have his hooks done up. "Look at the back of my neck Sir, I have a bloody big boil there and I couldn't do up the hooks."
I took the charge sheet to Les Morell, our Sqaudron Commander and gave him the explanation. "OK, I let you know when I am ready to hear Red's case."
The day came, my sergeant major, Jim Thyer, and I stook at attention behind the table where Les sat. "March in the escort and accused." In came the parade under the command of the Squadron Sergeant Major Bradwin. "Escort and accused, quick march. Escort and accused, halt. Escort and accused, left turn. Accused, remove head dress. Sir."
Les heard the case and then said "Before I pass sentence has the accused anything to say?"
"Yes sir. I had a bloody big boil on the back of my neck and I couldn't do up my hooks, Sir."
"That's no excuse Hamilton, if you had a big boil on your arse, you wouldn't go around with your fly open, now would you? You are fined one day's pay and allowances."
Somehow, the Sergeant Major managed to get the escort and accused outside and closed the door. Les looked at me and asked "How's that?"
Jim Thyer and I were broken up. We could hear Red, the escort and Sergeant Major Bradwin laughing ther heads off outside the door. I went out to see Red and he was still laughing and commented "Sir, that was worth a day's pay and allowances."
Col Eddy Smith, the Regimental CO, would ask for Bill Pearson to come to RHQ to weld a few brackets on his half track. These short jobs always seemed to take about three days and when Bill returned to the LAD he was usually the worse for wear. Col Smith's generosity was well known and he always insisted that it be accepted. On one occasion, it reached such a state that I had a talk with Eddie and lodged a well justified complaint with him and asked him to "lay off" for awhile. Eddie's reply was simple and direct. "Have a drink, Bon, Bill Pearson did a good job for me." The Colonel's kindness to his troops may well be illustrated by two incidents.
The first: The Colonel was on leave in PARIS and happened to see Bill pass by his hotel. He immediately went out on the street and brought Bill back to the hotel, which incidentally, was an officers leave hotel. He took Bill up to his room and asked him if he had enough money for his leave. Bill insisted that he had. "Then put a couple of these bottles inside your tunic Bill." With that he escorted Bill back to the street with the parting remark. "I'll be here to the end of the week Bill. If you run short, look me up."
|Our regiment moved with great difficulty, because of poor ground conditions, to an area South-West of the BALBERGER FOREST for a perios of well earned rest. "F" Echelon's rest area was in a farming community. The woods were not dense but provided sufficient cover to mask any movements from the enemy. The tank crews took full advantage of the wandering live stock and poultry. At one time, I thought that the woods had the appearance of a new light snow fall with flakes of snow lazily floating on each breeze. What I thought were snow flakes were chicken feathers!
In the LAD area, a cow unwisely grazed within our lines. Bill Pearson suggested that it should be roped and slaughtered. No sooner said than the cow was roped. The sloaughter proved more difficult and gruesome. The carcass was hoisted on one of our werecker's booms over a pit and there it was skinned and eviscerated. Once the word got around to other squadron kithchens, we were requested to hoist carcasses for them. It wasn't long before our two wreckers had a carcass hanging from each boom. When "F" Echelon moved to its next assignment, each tank had either a side of pork, beef or poultry suspended form its jun barrel.
On March 23rd, our Col called a muster parade and gave a talk on the accomplichments of all the members of the Regiment in the first penetration into Germany.
"This time we will be staying. I must stress to all of you that there must be no fraternizing with the German people. I have received orders that there must not be any more looting - even though it is enemy territory. There must not be the indiscrimimate slaughter of cattle and poultry like the last time."
|Ther was some free time available devoted to the exploration of what had been a city. A large margarine factory was visited, however the margarine had been removed. There were, howver, several hundred drums of approximately 45 gal size. Some of these drums contained what was assumed to be shortening and the others contained a thick that had the color, consistency and flavor of corn syrup.
Next door was a cocoa factory. There wasn't and cocoa around but there were cartons of cocoa cans as yet unlabeled and unused. Bill Pearson and Red Hamilton took a case of cans and a barrel of shortening back to their shell crater and spent a whole night canning the shortening. They took the filled cans with them when Sol Tolmasky, our Cpl Storeman, went back to Holland to pick up spare parts at the Ordnance Field Park.
They sold the canned shortening for and enormous amount of guilders to the Dutch people they encountered.
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