Posts Tagged ‘WW11’

R.J. Keddie: Whitey

Whitey, courtesy of The Fort Garry Horse Museum and Archives

Whitey, courtesy of The Fort Garry Horse Museum and Archives

Whitey on dury

Whitey on duty


Mr. R. J. Keddie of Kingston, Ontario, served with the Fort Garry Horse and Tank Regiment from Winnipeg, Manitoba from Sept. 1939 to Sept. 1945. The Fort Garry Horse and Tank regiment was to become part of the 2nd Canadian Armoured Brigade which was given a role as vanguard in the invasion of Normandy.

“Whitey was the regimental mascot who joined us in the Winnipeg Robinson Building on one cold October night in 1939. He appeared on the doorstep, was invited in to warm up, and stayed. Whitey became a Fort Garry Horse member with his own regimental number: H 26001/2”.

The regiment trained for duty in that building and also briefly in camp Shilo. In 1941 the regiment sailed for England where they continued an armoured role. After accompanying us everywhere in Canada, Whitey was smuggled into England in a box while under anaesthetic.

Mr. Keddie remembers: “He served with us throughout all our time in England , both at work or at play and the Collie was always there. He used to lead the regiment to church. They’d bring him in, and he would lie down in the aisle right by the front pew, and would stay there the whole time. If you couldn’t see him you wouldn’t know he was there. And when the service was over he would get up and lead them out again.”

Whitey lived with ‘B’Squadron, and at morning parade time, when the Sgt. Major shouted his orders to “fall in”, Whitey would literally herd the men into their various troop formations, all the while barking and rounding up the slow movers. He knew to be quiet when the Sgt. Major was about to give forth with subsequent orders, but would then give more barking, just to punctuate the situation.

Ted Brumwell, also of “B” Squadron, recalls: “He would attach himself to a Trooper as his master for a couple of weeks, then move on to another troop.”

Whitey was polite to any Fort Garry soldier but liked no others. Ever a democrat, he didn’t pay much attention to officers.

Shortly before D-Day this fine animal was accidentally hit by a truck while he was on duty. Whitey was buried with proper military ceremony at a spot code-named ‘Shangri-La’ near Fawley on Southapton Water, United.Kingdom in May 1944. He was much missed by his squadron and remembered for sixty years.

Larry Taverner: Champagne

Champagne, courtesy Larry Taverner

Champagne, courtesy Larry Taverner

Larry Taverner was an Airman First Class Armorer serving on a fighter squadron (242) formed of Canadians serving in the Royal Air Force. They made up part of the British Expeditionary Force in France in 1940.

“When the Germans started advancing on us, we received orders to pull up stakes from our camp near Lille and head for the French coast. We were several days getting to the coast but managed to keep our adoped dog, Champagne, concealed. She was like a very small Jack Russell Terrier and she travelled in the uniform shirts of several airmen, mine included.

Once on the coast we had a couple of days to wait for a small coastal freighter to take us back to England. We finally made it to Linconshire where we had plenty of re-organizing to do because we had lost a lot of our equipment. Champagne was glad we made it back to England too because she could finally get out from under cover and tear around. The sad part is that after a couple of weeks of freedom she lost an argument with a large truck. It was a sorrowful bunch of guys who made sure she had a decent burial. We sure missed our smallest recruit.”