David Ward: Tiger

In September 1939, Mr. David Ward joined the Royal Canadian Army Service Corps at the age of 18. “We were the first Canadian Peacekeeping Force that was formed. That was the start of it all.”

It was right at the beginning that Dave and his buddies picked up a little terrier mix they called Tiger wandering around in Lansdown Park in Ottawa where soldiers were signing up for service. “They mobililized us pretty fast, just a quick medical to weed out the sick, the lame and the lazy. Pretty much everybody was signed on.” Those were the days, Dave said, when everybody had a nickname. The bald soldier answered to Curly, the British were called Limeys. “There were lots of ethnic jokes too.” Dave was named Froggy because his mother was French.

Tiger went with the boys to Camp Borden for basic training and then on to Debert, Nova Scotia which was the embarkation location before being shipped overseas. The camp was surrounded by bushland where the lumber camps were serviced by loggers and their horses. Tiget met his end when he was kicked by one of these horses while nipping at its hooves. The regiment was heart broken. Tiger was given a proper army funeral; David Ward was one of his pallbearers. Last Post was played. Through his untimely death, Tiger missed a trip to England on the Empress of Canada and ultimately landing in Normandy on D-Day where Dave, on ammunition detail, was one of the first batch that landed.

David sent me the following poem that was written by Big Harry (Mayotte), the regiment’s cook and a soldier of such great physical stature that no uniform would fit him and he was forced to wear overalls. The mention of the colours blue and grey in the following poem refers to the Navy and the Air Force uniforms which used to be separated by colour before unification of the Canadian armed forces in 1968.

DEATH OF OUR MASCOT, TIGER
This story about our mascot in this quaint little poem
is about a little dog we picked up back home.
Not so much to look at, he was just a little stray.
But how we got attached to him since that winter’s day.
Every route march back at Lansdown, he was always at our heels,
and even in the mess hall, he sat with us at meals.
He came with us to Camp Borden and stayed with us in tents;
got along with all the soldiers there but not with civilian gents.

He was proud of the King’s uniform in his doggie way:
You couldn’t fool our mascot if you dressed in blue or grey.
You had to be a soldier to play around with him;
the army seemed to be his place, it satisfied his whim.

We brought him down to Camp Debert, trotting in the rear,
never thinking of the tragedy that was hovering so hear.
that was to end in death of our little care,
struck by a horse, who was so bold to dare.

He was buried like a soldier, bugles blowing overhead;
he was more than just a canine,
you can judge by what you’ve read.
And we’re not ashamed to tell you that those that were so near
came very close to shedding one tiny little tear.

 

 

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