UBC Archives Audio Recordings Collection

[Interview with Ray Herbert, Armed Forces at UBC Project, Part I] Specht, Allen 1974-04-04

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Mr. Ray Herbert
April 4, 1974
Interview 503 Tape 1, 3ide 1
Mr. Specht: Mr. Herbert, could you tell me where you were born?
Mr. Herbert: Calgary, Alberta.
Mr. Specht: What year was that?
Mr. Herbert: 1924
Mr. Specht: Did you go to school in Calgary?
Mr. Herbert: Yes I did. I finished high school there approximately the time I became eighteen years old and then I joined the Air Force.
Mr. Specht: Did you go to a Central Collegiate Institute?
Mr. Herbert: Central Collegiate High, yeah.
Mr. Specht: Oh that's a high school is it?
Mr. Herbert: Well it's called C.C.I.
Mr. Specht: What was your father's occupation?
Mr. Herbert: He was a switchman with the railroad. He was really a machinist, but he was killed when he was working as a switchman for the railway in 1929 when I was four years old.
Mr. Specht: C.P.R.?
Mr. Herbert: C.P.R.
Mr. Specht: Where were your parents from?
Mr. Herbert: Well he was from Nova Scotia, my mother was born in Ogden, Utah. They met in the west.
Mr. Specht: I see. While you were in high school did you join the local militia?
Mr. Herbert: Yes I did. I belonged to an organization called the Fifteenth Alberta Light Horse.
Mr. Specht: What was that organization?
Mr. Herbert: Well it was... theoretically, when I joined it it was Cavalry unit and we were the headquarters squadron in Calgary, and the other squadrons comprising the unit were at places like Pincher Creek, and Bowden, Alberta, and at summer camp the rural fellows brought horses and at the time I joined, but we were theoretically at that time, of course, convertible to petrol driven vehicles. We were a little out of date.
Mr. Specht: Why did you join this unit?
Mr. Herbert: Oh I was interested in military activities and a friend belonged to it. I enjoyed it.
Mr. Specht: Was your father in the service,
Mr. Herbert: No. My father wasn't in the service, but most of my uncles did, several were lost in the First World War.
Mr. Specht: When you joined this militia unit this was 1939?
Mr. Herbert: No it would be later than that. It would be in late 1940 or early 1941 as I recall. I just don't remember now. It's written down somewhere I suppose. I should add that my older brother had served in the Lord Strathcona Horse in peace time, regular army, and that would be roughly between 1938 and 1939. And I've no doubt that influenced me at that age to have a run at it too.
Mr. Specht: What did you do after you were with this militia unit?
Mr. Herbert: Well the Fifteenth Alberta Light Horse got itself mobilized when I was about seventeen into a thing called the 31st Reconnaisance Regiment and disappeared into the mythical Sixth Canadian Division. I was then not old enough of course, to join the regular force, so I transferred actually to the Calgary Regimental Tank and served with it until I was eighteen years old, when I joined the Air Force.
Mr. Specht: Why did you switch to the Air Force?
Mr. Herbert: I wanted to fly. Ha, ha!
Mr. Specht: Where were you based when you joined the Air Force?
Mr. Herbert: Well, initially one went through a scheme of training and it was mostly in Western Canada. For example, you'd got to Edmonton for initial, for manning depot, Claresholm, Alberta, back to Edmonton again; to High River, to Calgary back to Edmonton again; then to Dafoe, Saskatchewan, Rivers. Manitoba, and from thence overseas.
Mr. Specht: I see. What kind of, what were you training for?
Mr. Herbert: Well, I wanted to be a fighter pilot, but they didn't think I could fly. And I started off as a pilot and I finished elementary school and most of service flying when I was washed out and reselected. I wanted the shortest course they had available that appeared to be this bomb aimer thing so I retrained in that activity.
Mr. Specht: How did it come about that you went overseas?
Mr. Herbert: I, like most fellows, I sort of wanted to, and although many young fellows were retained to become instructors and so on, in the Commonwealth area air training plan most guys wanted to get overseas and get into the swing.
Mr. Specht: With which squadron were you posted?
Mr. Herbert: Well, ultimately, after going through, quite a long course of training at these places in England and Wales I ended up on a squadron called 429 Squadron in a place called Leeming in Yorhshire, which was part of the Six, Bomber Group, the Canadian bomber group of the Royal Air Force.
Mr. Specht: Did you give the date for that?
Mr. Herbert: Oh golly, off the top of my head, it would be roughly June of 1944, it was just around the time of D-Day, or perhaps a little later than that, a month or so later than that that I got to the squadron and we began to operate, so it was really the last half of 1944 that I was in operations.
Mr. Specht: And what war experience did you have?
Mr. Herbert: Well... the normal regimen then for a bomber crew, was to, a tour was approximately 30 trips and when you'd completed a so-called operational tour you were screened. About the time we were nicely into that, of course, the Americans had broken out into France and it looked like the war was galloping to a conclusion. Although some of my crew and at least myself we wanted to go on and do further work by going path finding. It looked like a dumb idea, we might get embarked on a program of training and have the war end up on us and never having you know finished a tour. So we elected not to do so and then when we finished our tour, a few of us wanted to go on but we went rather to staff and instructor jobs again within Command. I was mining officer at 63 Base which involved some planning and evaluation of laying mines from air craft...until the end of the war. Mr. Specht: When you were on the tour, what did... did you do bombing?
Mr. Herbert: Yes.
Mr. Specht: What did you do for example?
Mr. Herbert: Oh....! The usual run of things for that time. We did some bombing of flying bomb sites, because then the Germans were launching the buzz-bombs, I think they were; and some close support bombing with the army activities in Normandy; a considerable amount of laying mines, for example in Kiel Bay, but mostly in Norwegian waters, and that would be interspersed with typical bombing raid on German centres.
Mr. Specht: What was the purpose of laying the mines?
Mr. Herbert: Well basically to inhibit German sea-borne travel. The bombing effort, to a considerable degree, was devoted in one way or another to inhibiting German communications and the laying of sea mines in Norwegian water obviously was to preclude the sea traffic between Denmark, Germany and Norway. The Germans had very considerable forces in Norway and part of the idea was to inhibit their movement of men and material from Norway to Germany.
Mr. Specht: Yes. Germany was importing a lot of iron ore from Norway... through Norwegian ports.
Mr. Herbert: Well, actually, yes in a sense, the great iron ore run of course, was from Northern Sweden across to Narvik and from Norther Norway and down what they call the Leads, that is the Norwegian coastal waters through to Germany although, I believe. that traffic had been inhibited at that time in another way and that would be by direct attack by coastal command air craft. We were really concerned with the shipping out of places like Oslo. and Sande Fjord, which was primarily personnel as I understood it. Mr. Specht: You said that after your tour now, you were on ground staff?
Mr. Herbert: Yes.
Mr. Specht: And this was for instruction did you say?
Mr. Herbert: No. I was, because I think I had done quite a bit of this mine laying work and it was, a large amount of the responsiblity for it fell upon the bomb aimer, and had written sort of a short paper on the experiences, it was deemed appropriate that I be made a kind of staff officer and I became what was called the Mining Officer for 63 Base, which functioned out of the headquarters in both briefing crews on mining activities and in the assessment of the results of their work for reporting to the Admiralty and other agencies. It was really quite interesting. You know, fairly scientific.
Mr. Specht: What did you do after the war?
Mr. Herbert: Well, I volunteered to go to Japan, but the cowards quit because of the Atom Bomb, I guess, ha, ha! I guess I was in mid-Atlantic, theoretically on my way to further training for going out to the far east when the war in the east ended and accordingly we were reposted shortly to release depots of our choice and I determined the most advantageous thing for me to do was to go to university and hence I came to Vancouver where my parents, my mother and my brother had moved. I came to U.B.C. in the tall of 1945.
Mr. Specht: Did you at this time, contemplate a career in the forces?
Mr. Herbert: No.
Mr. Specht: Which faculty did you enter into at U.B.C.?
Mr. Herbert: Well, in the first instance, Arts, but my intention was to go into Law, which I did in due course,
Mr. Specht: How did you become interested in Law?
Mr. Herbert: There were two reasons, I think my brother had always wanted to be a lawyer, he's a chartered accountant, but at that time in the 30's there were no resources to send him to any university he, accordingly got his education in that way and in that profession. But he always wanted to be a lawyer and I had a very close friend in the Air Training scheme in Canada a chap named Bishop, who practices Law in Edmonton and I admired him very much and I thought if that's what lawyers are like they can't be all bad and I'd like to be one, I think, probably I had some bent that was not in the direction of mathematics and science and another factor I think that affected many of us, was at that time in B.C. there was no medical school or dental school and the professional training available was confined to engineering and forestry that sort of thing, and the Law School was new and it consequently attracted people for that reason.
Mr. Specht: Yes, I think the Law School started right after, about 1945, So which degree did you attain? In Law School?
Mr. Herbert: a Well, I had an Arts and a Law degree.
Mr. Specht: Did you practice law?
Mr. Herbert: For a short time. About a year.
Mr. Specht: What happened after that?
Mr. Herbert: I came back to U.B.C. teaching. An opportunity arose to do that and I've really been doing that substantially ever since.
Mr. Specht: Did you keep any connections with the Air Force after the war?
Mr. Herbert: Well not really, but with the growth of 19 Wing as it was called, the auxiliary Air Force here in Vancouver, the Reserve units, an opportunity occurred to join it and I joined in the 19 Wing, specifically Air Craft Control and Warning Unit. And I served in that for a couple of years. I was asked to take up the appointment of Commanding Officer of the what was then called the University Squadron at U.B.C.
Mr. Specht: Where was this auxiliary squadron based?
Mr. Herbert: At Sea Island.
Mr. Specht: What kind of duties did you have at this particular base as far as routine etc?
Mr. Herbert: Well we were kind of a fighter control unit theoretically, he trouble is we were equipped with Ames - 11 Radar gear, which was a mobile gear designed to go ashore on the continent during the latter part of the war and its effective use depended upon its being serviceable the VHF being serviceable, the air craft being serviceable all at one time, which frequently didn't occur. We were also inhibited in our aerial surveillance by the resistance of all the mountains around here so that in practical terms we weren't a great organization. It was a very good unit in terms of preparing for the use of more sophisticated equipment as and when it ever became available.
Mr. Specht: This was a reserve unit?
Mr. Herbert: A reserve unit, yes.
Mr. Specht: So you would attend the unit once a week?
Mr. Herbert: One night a week and all day Sundays was the routine.
Mr. Specht: How did this unit interact with the reserve university squadron which started off roughly around this time, around 1948 - 49.
Mr. Herbert: Yes. Essentially it was an interesting phenomena. It was not a very clear cut or a close connection. And this was something I tried to overcome. I had the advantage of serving with it and then coming into the officer's training, I knew that there was an area where all officers were going to be needed and it seemed to me one of my functions would be to expedite the movement of the people I was concerned with training and administering in due course into the auxiliary. I think that to some degree we succeeded, in this activity. It made it all a bit more purposeful and of use to the defence scene to try and to do that. The trouble is you see, the auxiliary is under Air Defence command and the officer training at U.B.C. was under Training Command and the two commands were separated physically and in terms of personnel and it seemed to me it needed some kind of connecting link. I was able to facilitate the acceptance of the people from the university scheme into the auxiliary scheme.
Mr. Specht: I read in the U.B.C. annual about the students in the university would go to Sea Island quite often during the year.
Mr. Herbert: Well, I was, of course, a successor to Squadron Leader Haines, who was the first commanding officer of the university flight as it was first called, and initially the students in university units from the east trained in the east and those from the west-trained at Abbotsford the first year and they were not brought together until the second year when the school moved to London, Ontario. And then the next year they came from all over Canada, they met at Royal Military College, Kingston, and it was not really until the following year that I became involved in their activities and training. What did occur, of course, was that, for example, an officer cadet who had complete his basic officer training in one of those summers could well indeed be posted, let's say if he was in administration or supply, to a place like Sea Island to get the on the job experience which was the balance of his training.
Mr. Specht: Did students ever go to Sea Island during the winter term though?
Mr. Herbert: Oh, No. Not really, except in this that we kitted the people with supply that is, out of Sea Island, there was a financial connection. They handled our pay and accounts and there was some social inter-change.
Mr. Specht: You said that you saw that with the auxiliary squadron at Sea Island, the university unit could probably be a source of supply of new men, personnel. Did this work the other way too? For example, would officers, experienced officers, servicemen at Sea Island help out your unit in some capacity? Mr. Herbert: Yes indeed so. As 1 say particularly in regard to this furnishing of administrative assistance. We drew on them fairly occasionally, tor winter lectures on various phases of Air Force activity. But I must say that primarily our training program was basic, and what we tried to utilize, because of the unique availability, ware academic people from the university in particular areas of current affairs. history and so on. We had a basic feeling that the service instruction was best done in the service context during the summer. Although... no we fairly frequently called upon the serving officers available in the area to contribute to the training program, but in addition to university people.
Mr. Specht: I see.
Mr. Herbert: Let me give you an example, you get a guy who's taking commerce or something like that, who happens to be an officer cadet, it's a damn good idea if he gets exposed to some real good contemporary instruction about geography and geopolitics and so on, He's going to be an officer and this is a good opportunity to broaden their interest, caught their attention. We had a fairly flexible training program, not I think as rigid as that imposed that of the other two services. We were a little more free to exploit resources at hand than perhaps the others were.
Mr. Specht: I'd like to ask your opinion on a few events, in 1943, university squadrons started up and lasted only for about a year and a half. What is your opinion on why that happened, why it was disbanded?
Mr. Herbert: Well I can only guess. I was overseas at the time all that occurred, but I perceive it in this ways the Canadian government determined that all fit male university students, still attending university, it was desirable that they complete their education for the general effort of the country. but they thought it equally important that these men be required to take what ever military training could be made available at the same time. And hence the C.O.T.C. became very large and substantial organization, and as we talked the other day, the Air Force did for one reason or another, principally because it was actively engaged to attract, it was technical, it offered flying and it was engaged in operations. Right from day one of the war, whereas the army was held in England in defensive and training roles for an extended period of time. So consequently all the university students, as they completed their education or otherwise, joined the Air Force. I have no doubt that this was the impulse that started this specialist university flight or squadron in the university, but equally so, by 1944 the Commonwealth Air Training plan was really running down. They had all the people they needed or could foresee being needed and consequently I suppose it was just plain economics to cut out you know, one more source of supply that was not necessary.
Mr. Specht: Why was it re-established in 1949?
Mr. Herbert: Herbert, Well, in 1949 typically, in Canada, right after the war, in 1945, well the service was just reduced right down from hundreds of thousands of people to a very few thousand and however, the world didn't get all that peaceful that quickly, it became un-peaceful again, and you'll recollect there was a great deal of friction between an expansionist Russia as it appeared and the European community and the birth of NATO, but perhaps principally it was the outbreak of the quite serious and major war in Korea between the forces of left and right I suppose one could put it that way, that led to a kind of re-assessment of our defensive capability and posture. Hence an expansion in the services and hence the sudden need again for the introduction of what with the increasingly sophisticated equipment, the people it seemed to the people to be sophisticated, people in terms of education and particularly in the sciences, engineering and the like. So that this re-opening of the units on the campuses seemed to be a good source of supply. And, indeed, it wasn't very long after the units were re-instituted in, would it be 1952 I guess, the services went even further and set up a scheme of subsidization called the Regular Officer Training Program, which they would encourage the university student into the service by enrolling them in the services and paying their way through the university.
Mr. Specht: You mentioned earlier you became Commanding Officer that would be 1952, how did that come about?
Mr. Herbert: Well rather curiously, I had heard they were, I met a couple of law students that belonged to the squadron and one of them came to me one day and said "you know Herbert, they're looking for a C.O. for the Air Force unit and I rather gathered that they were one, looking for somebody on the faculty obviously, and two: they were looking for somebody, I think, who had had air crew experience and sported a wing and a few ribbons and so on, that added a little bejazz to the thing. And accordingly, I really just volunteered. At that time I was supposed to be going away to do graduate work, so I just simply wandered over and asked if there was any way I could be of assistance. And that was more or less taken up and I was appointed Commanding Officer.
Mr. Specht: Taken up by the committee that governed militarv affairs on campus?
Mr. Herbert: Oh no, it was briefer than that. Sperrin Chant, who was then the Dean of Arts, and an ex-director of manning for the R.C.A.F. I was sitting in his office and he picked up the phone and phoned the chief of the air staff and said I've got a C.O. for you. And that was about the size of it.
Mr. Specht: Did you know your predecessor, Mr. Haines?
Mr. Herbert: Yes. Rather better later. I hadn't really known him well, I knew him and knew of him, but I became really more acquainted with him after I had taken over and he had gone back into the regular force.
Mr. Specht: That was why he left the unit then, because he went to the regular force?
Mr. Herbert: He joined the regular force, yes.
Mr. Specht: What did you think when you took over as Commanding Officer, you had quite a large facility in the armoury, I wonder what your impressions of the armoury were?
Mr. Herbert: Well, I was obviously, very impressed with the offices, the people the staff, the resident staff officer. then was Flt. Lt. W. Casey of the regular force. The clerk in charge of the order room was a Cpl. Stride, who ended out his career as a warrant officer. There was Flight. Lt. Laithwaite, from the Physical Education department, who was the 2 IC. and a very friendly group, not merely in the Air Force side of things but with the C.O.T.C. and the Navy as well, who I immediately became acquainted with and...
Mr. Specht: Can I read you... I'd like to read you a quote. This would be from one of your Commanding Officer's report and you can comment on it. This is 1953. "The accommodation made available to the service units at U.B.C. cannot be approached by any similar unit anywhere in Canada." What do you have to comment? Mr. Herbert: Well, that's quite correct. We were the envy of everybody from here east, as far as they had units established at universities, in terms of this facility we had. In which we probably took an inordinate pride because of the way in which it was built. It was really built by the students, like so many things at U.B.C. We're always inclined to get a little whoopee in the west, but we were the only outfit I know of that had a mess and armouries and offices. The support that we got at this university is unique.
Mr. Specht: I'd like to ask you about the parade evenings. You started with a mess dinner. Is that the case?
Mr. Herbert: Well, this had sort of varied kind of situation. In those days there was a lady and I can't think of her name, one of the Army people will, right, Mrs. Davis, who was sort of cook in the kitchen, a fairly adequate kitchen existed in our mess, a little one, but at the end of the place and she served lunches in the armouries for those who wished to purchase them at a very moderate rate and each parade night she served a meal for those again who wished to attend it. We tried to develop this because it seemed like a good idea. The more people we could get out to kind of dine together, and we used to jazz it up a little later on we introduced the idea of serving wine and so on, and just the general attempt to pull the thing together. This business of giving the unit a sort of a corporate feeling.
End of Tape 1, Side 1

Mr. Ray Herbert
April 4, 1974
Interview 503 Tape 1, Side 2
Mr. Herbert: Then when she stopped later on, we had food catered and brought in from the food services for the same purpose.
Mr. Specht: I see. In the reports, quite fortunate for me, because I was able to get a really good picture of what the parade evenings were like, because for your 1956 report you enclosed a synopsis of each parade. One impression I got, maybe you can confirm this or deny it, was that the first lecture following the dinner, tended to be more of... first you had dinner and then drill, inspection by the commanding officer, and then the first lecture seemed to be more specific of the evening and then the second lecture tended to be one of more general interest. I wonder is this correct?
Mr. Herbert: I don't know if I can recollect any particular thing except that maybe responsive to that but to say that we would try to arrange the lecture schedule to accommodate the convenience of anybody we might have brought in for that purpose. For example, we might get Dr. Robinson in Geography, set for a lecture and we would invite him for supper beforehand but if he couldn't come and would prefer to come at a different hour well we would adjust our schedule because convenience...
Mr. Specht: So it was a kind of a flexible set-up?
Mr. Herbert: Oh yes. I think so. The invariable sequence was the inspection, the drill and then whatever classes we could fit in. A good deal of the time of the actual officers was spent particularly in the fall term, in doing interviews of prospective applicants. This took a lot of time.
Mr. Specht: I was going to get to that, but first I want to ask you... you gave lectures yourself didn't you?
Mr. Herbert: Oh yes, from time to time.
Mr. Specht: What topics did you deal with?
Mr. Herbert: Oh.... it varied a good deal. I suppose that I used to do a thing an illustrated one on the blackboard of comparative service ranks, you know with appropriate characteristics, how you could tell a soldier from a sailor and so on. It was usually well received. But it varied. I can recall at one time, vary early in the thing, as I had done a kind of... led a discussion group in the auxiliary on the situation in the middle east with particular reference to Egypt. Having notes and stuff ready I bunged that at the guys just for the hell of it. But we were pretty much occupied as I say, in terms of time with the interviewing of people.
Mr. Specht: I was noticing that in one year it seemed like you had started, you wouldn't start the parade until about the usually after the first week in October. Presumably September was taken up with recruiting?
Mr. Herbert: That would have been perhaps a little unusual, really, but that would be the cause probably.
Mr. Specht: And I kind of counted the number of parade nights which would be maybe fifteen or sixteen in one year.
Mr. Herbert: Yes.
Mr. Specht: That seemed to me not too much. I wonder what would be achieved in that period?
Mr. Herbert: In some senses you see, we have a limit of, on the pay that the cadets could earn, in the course of a winter. This was kind of a governing factor. We probably were a little over generous in assigning a per-diem rate to our parade system but broadly speaking it was designed to accommodate the pay that D.N.D. was ready to make available on a per diem basis to the cadets for training purposes. We think we ran ours over actually the hours, because of the additional activities in connection with preparation for the tri-service parade and ball and that sort of thing.
Mr. Specht: In this report it also mentions pay parades and I wonder what these were?
Mr. Herbert: Well those were when the laddies from Sea Island came out with money for the troops.
Mr. Specht: This would be, would this be like a regular parade Or just...
Mr. Herbert: Oh no pay parades were beautiful things. A table and the guys with a whole bundle of money, this was before we got into the cheque era, and by the acquittance roll, and people lined up, stepped up smartly, saluted, and were handed a bundle of money signed the acquittance roll and about turned and went back to the next table where we collected their mess dues from them. Often with the result that there was little netted out of it, but still it was fun.
Mr. Specht: I see. I'm going to ask you a question, rather a large question. I wonder if you can describe summer training and how it was... the importance of summer training? Say compared with the winter parade night, what it was like there? Mr. Herbert: Well I regarded really the... you've got to sort of separate it into the levels of the individual. We really ran a different training program depending on whether a guy was parading his first, his second or third year in the winter. You know, the outline of the parade remained essentially the same. He would, all would participate in the drill, but by and large the senior guys took charge of the drill. That is officer cadets in third year, many of by then who are pilot officers, had been actually commissioned, would, we encouraged them to take a large part in the running of the mess, in running the drill program, in arranging the roster of officers in charge of each flight and there was a flight for first year, second year and third year and being the sort of, parade C.O. and we'd rotate them through this, because its a wonderful developer of confidence in people to have to do that kind of thing. A lot of people laugh at drill, but its got a very, very real purpose and its the way in which one inculcates both the discipline in those being drilled and the ability to give it, as it were, on the part of those who should develop that capacity. Its a very important part of officer development.
Mr. Specht: Now summer training, this...
Mr. Herbert: I was going to add to that, as I indicated perhaps, earlier that we tried to as much as we could to exploit the talent available in the university to provoke interest, purpose and so on in being in the service at all, and we relied to quite an extent on the basic instruction, we might call military subjects, occurring in the first phase of first year summer training. This is the Reserve Officer School, conducted variously as I've indicated, initially in Abbotsford for Western universities and for all universities at London, then for four years at Military College at Kingston, and then for three or four years, I forget now, at College Militaire, then for three or four years at Centralia, Ontario, and then a final year at Clinton, Ontario, before the school folded up. Initially, we ran really, two reserve, or extended officer schools. When we had air crew training, the basic reserve officer's school was four weeks duration. The end of which time, the air crew left, the aeronautical engineers and the electronics people, those going on specific further courses left, and we were left then with a residue of, and I don't use that word in any invidious sense, but a residue of things like supply, administration, phys-ed, those sorts of categories of officer cadets, who did a further four weeks at the reserve officer school, but of a more advanced nature. The basic thrust of the training gave service management, because they were then going out to be trained on the job, as it were, and they wanted to be equipped so they could take over as an assistant adjutant or acting adjutant. And we did it in that way at first. Later on when the air crew training was diminished, we really ran a shorter course for everyone. It became more compressed. Perhaps we got a little more efficient at it. In the early days for example, we gave extensive exercise, if you like, in ground defence. It was virtually infantry training of an elementary sort. That diminished over the years, I think, in my view, it was a mistake, but again the time and availability of instructors and so on were factors in these decisions.
Mr. Specht: First year cadets would go through an indoctrination period when they first went to summer camp? Mr. Herbert: You call it indoctrination, its not a word I like. I prefer to call it basic training, something like that.
Mr. Specht: I was curious about one aspect of it. It said there was a public speaking course.
Mr. Herbert: Yes indeed. The title we used was "Effective Speaking". The theory behind that is if you're going to be an officer you know, you're basically going to be a manager of some kind, or a supervisor of some kind, whatever your trade is you're still instructing and directing other people and its highly relevant that a person develops confidence in this capacity to stand on his hind legs and say something. So we had a course designed to achieve that effect.
Mr. Specht: How did the cadets respond to that?
Mr. Herbert: Oh, very well. Yea, one of their favorites. Each summer we gave them a course called "Service Writing." This was designed to acquaint them with military parlance in part, but primarily, in my view, to teach them to write a simple straight God damned letter or message. Its a very useful thing for university students.
Mr. Specht: Did you attend summer camps yourself?
Mr. Herbert: Yes.
Mr. Specht: What did you ordinarily do at a summer camp?
Mr. Herbert: Well, my chores varied. I early became involved in being in charge of... the first year I was supposed to do service law, that stemmed, I suppose, from my legal training, although I don't particularly know that much about service law. I got involved in a number of administrative chores and ultimately, really, I became kind of a lecturer in service history and organization which were subjects which I knew quite a bit about, was very interested in. And then, as the years went by, I took charge of all the outdoor activities, you know, sort of overseeing them. That would be the drill, phys-ed and those phase of things, and again, a very... not a very profound way, but designated as the guy over-seeing those activities. Quite a variety of things.
Mr. Specht: This summer camp coincided quite nicely with your own job of course, because you're a university instructor.
Mr. Herbert: Well of course, we were through with exams in spring and were free to go on this activity. One of the great things, and my happiest recollection of it, was the number of other university people I met from all over Canada who came in a similar manner to myself to help staff these schools. I made some friends I'll never forget. They came from all kinds of disciplines and activities in university, so it was a real good thing for a parochial guy like me who taught in a very narrow area in a law school.
Mr. Specht: Was it the same thing on the part of the cadets?
Mr. Herbert: Equally so with the cadets. I'd like to say something there before we go on. To me, in a period of time when was a lot of concern about and developing concern about sort of in Canada and Quebec's feelings for independence and... that movement generally, which was, tends to have been led, I think, and sparked by really self-styled intellectual leaders, but at any rate, people from higher educational institutions and so on, I thought from my own point of view, which was a very kind of nationalistic Canadian one I suppose, that the bringing together of a large bunch of young men from Laval and Montreal and other Quebec educational institutions along with others of the same age and interests from all across the country and socking together, we mixed them up deliberately, produced to my mind, a wonderful effect. None of these people will ever forget, I don't think, the associations engendered in that way. Mind you I think that probably one could say that perhaps the young men from French Canada, who volunteered for this kind of training may not been entirely typical, and indeed, I was going to add, even though for a number of years the schools conducted in a Quebec community, the value of that alone to the men from the west and the maritimes to really live in a Quebec community was better that several million dollars worth of bi-culturism or Band B commissions. It went to the heart of the matter.
Mr. Specht: That's right. Cadets would have had a first hand acquaintance with the bi-culture.
Mr. Herbert: And Visa-verse.
Mr. Specht: One thing, at the summer bases the cadets were treated as if they had the status of commissioned officers. is what I read in one of the reports.
Mr. Herbert: Well, that's a little exaggerated. (Laughter) By and large, the cadets were quartered as would be the Royal Military cadets, obviously, in their courses of activity in winters, and we tended to set up a cadet mess as distinct from the officer's mess as such on these stations simply because of the numbers to be handled. In other words, they would dine more in cafeteria style and we might dine with waiters, but the feature of all these training programs was joint mess style dinner with all the trimmings a speaker, and conventions of the service and the church parade, and some of these things that are perhaps uniquely military. But otherwise they were harried around a good deal. Their drill instruction would be given by N.C.O.s of the R.C.A.F. drill instructors supervised by an officer and of course, these men are uniquely capable of taking a of taking a gang people and making them feel small and good and everything else all in the same process, but still giving them a sense of competition and pride in their appearance and in activity. We tried to make the, in the latter years of the training, we induced a lot of what we call flight competition, both in drill and particularly in sports. And to enhance that we brought in as flight commanders, recent graduates of R.M.C. It was good experience for them too. There was a good deal of leadership displayed in that regard. Again, earlier, when the scheme was bigger, we used to run a joint sports meet. Squadron Leader Laithwaite, broadly speaking, ran, because he was, you know, a guy who really knew the phys-ed business. This would bring in cadets from all over Southern Ontario, whereever they were available from whatever year of training for the big mass track meet at Kingston. It was a great success.
Mr. Specht: I was wondering, say in the case of air crew training after three summers, what level of skill could a cadet attain?
Mr. Herbert: When I first began, at any rate, the flying training was confined to a Harvard aircraft and it was all through flying on the Harvard or all free training on the Harvard and that's a so-called advanced two seat trainer from World War Two. And by the time a guy completed three summers of that he was a very, to my mind, a pilot of a very considerable competence. As I say, there was a weakness in the training I suppose, in the sense that it was interrupted by the winter session, but there was strength in it too, in that it was, there was a degree of repetition and re-hashing of it of course, and it was quite intensive in order to get the hours in, requisite to reach wings standard. One of the problems which of course occurred, when the jet became the airplane and it was deemed requisite that really every pilot be trained to jet standard. And its my belief that again the break in continuity of the training and the lack of or the cost factor involved were one of the main reasons why they decided to eliminate reserve air crew training. At least it would be a large factor and that would be coupled with the desire to, evidenced by the disappearance of the 19 Wing from Vancouver, to eliminate the auxiliary whereever politics permitted that could be done.
Mr. Specht: Did some of the cadets get jet training though?
Mr. Herbert: Sure. We had another scheme that went on at the same time where if a kid wanted to take a year out of university, We could get him into air crew that way. He'd be gone for a year. It was called short service commission training. He'd go through that and then into the auxiliary and a number of fellows did that. Particularly if they weren't selected in the initial selection, but had the aptitude, maybe their marks weren't so good or some other factor didn't appeal to the board. So he said okay, I'll take a year out sir, of the university, and go do my training and come back. There was a number of them did that. Of course, they then had the advantage of continuity in training right through to jet standard, came back, joined the auxiliary, came back to university and were lost to my unit, but in the right place, doing the right thing. There was a number of fellows who did that.
Mr. Specht: Would they have been able to get a pilot's license after this period?
Mr. Herbert: Oh yeah. A private pilot's license you get after, these days, about 35 hours of instruction in light aircraft.
Mr. Specht: Do you know if some of these cadets went into commercial flying?
Mr. Herbert: Yes. One that crosses my mind is Dennis Clark...a number of them went into the auxiliary and just by way of example, there's a judge of the Supreme Court now, John Bouch; his former law partner, Jack Edwards went through the Harvard training and got their wings, joined the auxiliary, converted in the auxiliary or with the auxiliary to T-birds a jet trainer, and from then to Sabre Aircraft, back from that to Expediters and the big float plane that was the final equipment of the auxiliary, the Otter, Dehaviland Otter, and Edwards became a Wing Commander and C.O. of one of the auxiliary squadrons. John Bouch was a squadron leading in one of them. And there are other examples of that, so that the basic training was sound. The adaptability - I had my first jet flight with Jack Edwards. He was then back in law school, was a law student. He had hiatus. He graduated in commerce and decided to come back to law. He and I went out one Wednesday afternoon and went zottin' around the gulf in a bird. A great experience.
Mr. Specht: One more question on summer camp, summer training, I should say. Some cadets were posted overseas and they were selected on a merit basis. What qualities did they need?
Mr. Herbert: There were a number of factors that operated in selection for those going overseas. A large number would be excluded right away because they're committed to finishing technical courses, which was a pity, but there it was. There was not enough time left to go to university for them to both complete their course and go out to Europe for a summer. So actually the group from which selections could be made was very narrow. It might be narrowed further than that by the overseas requirement for trades. We were really getting down to quite a small group of people. And within that framework it was damned difficult to pick who should go and of course these postings were much sought after and I'm sure we made mistakes in selection. You're bound to do so, but on the whole it seemed to work... reasonably well, and those who got it, got a real plum out of the whole thing.
Mr. Specht: All at Air Force expense?
Mr. Herbert: Yes. By and large, even if they might have been eligible, I tended to try and pick reserve students for the experience on the kind of vague theory that a regular force guy would probably get over anyhow, you know, whereas the reserve person wouldn't be likely to have that opportunity like that; but within that kind or framework the theory was merit... which would be a reflection of the guy's interest and activity and academic standing and the kind of contribution we judged ha made to the squadron's activities.
Mr. Specht: After graduation and completion of the three year program, what rank would a person normally get in the, it he joined one of the... reserve?
Mr. Herbert: Units? Flying officer. Pilot Officer was really a kind of interim commission rank.


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