UBC Archives Audio Recordings Collection

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

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Mr. Specht: I'd like to ask some questions about recruitment. Say you were on the selection committee, selecting the cadets who were permitted into the unit, and I wonder what usually, in your view, would determine whether or not a student should be accepted?
Mr. Herbert: As I think you're aware, we were... it depended a little on timing. In the early days, you know, there was virtually no limit on who could take in what trade, but very quickly we got into a quota concept, where R.C.A.F. headquarters would look to U.B.C. for five admin., four supply, eight engineers, whatever it might be. The recruitment in those branches would be dictated to some extent by the education the guy was going through. with... for accounts officers you're looking at a commerce student by and large, although not necessarily so. And when we had the air crew training it didn't matter where they came from, or if they were R.O.T.P. air crew, it didn't matter what faculty they came from, but we probably leaned a little in the direction of science and engineering. Its hard to tell right now. So your parameters, again, were narrowed down somewhat for the purposes of selection. You might get... and then the ladies, of course, were really a total number and broken down again into certain trades. Now if you're going to take a dietician she's got to come from Home Economics that's all there is to it. And if you had four applicants and two slots then you'd have a choice problem which was often a very invidious one of tamer, because very often all would be perfectly acceptable when you're laboring around in your best judgement to decide who's going to fit in best. And again, no doubt, we made mistakes, but still you do your best.
Mr. Specht: I suppose sometimes you had a kind of a lop-sided situation because maybe you sort of wouldn't be able to get recruits who would... enough recruits to fill a certain field and yet in other areas you probably had a surplus.
Mr. Herbert: Well then you would go shopping back to headquarters to see how some other unit was making out and you might do some trading around within the total quota system for the whole country. Usually they suffered from the same surpluses int he same area as you did. We were assigned a number of years for example, a quota for a padre, that's a guy taking theological training, well I must confess we didn't have a great deal of success in that area. Oh a couple of good ones, but I remember one of them got bothered by the idea of military service and quit on me and I had some difficulty explaining to him my view of the compatibility between serving in the service in that capacity and serving anywhere else in that capacity and I got kind of discouraged with padres and we had a couple of years where that quota was unfilled.
Mr. Specht: I see. I'm wondering you have these people who would be enrolled in your various categories and was there anything in their training during the year which would reflect their category? Mr. Herbert: If I appreciate your question correctly, that can't be it, because the objective one is yes. If a guy's going into aeronautical engineering he's taking engineering at U.B.C. Do you mean anything he took in the course of his military training?
Mr. Specht: I'm talking about the parades, the military training was there...
Mr. Herbert: Oh. By and large, during the winters, no. We were focussing on general officer capability and development. We didn't have technical facilities for technical training nor did we have the capacity to do that. Again, as I say, even throughout we preferred the general to the special, exploiting the talent available from this university community to develop their interest and awareness of world politics, affairs, why the service existed, where it might be deployed, why it was deployed where it was, appreciation of NATO for example, and the Canadian commitment to it and that sort of thing, the way the service was active.
Mr. Specht: Was there any... going back to selecting, did you ever try to determine if this, the students seemed serious and would likely join the regular service or reserves after training? Was there a bias in that direction, I wonder?
Mr. Herbert: The principle thing, I think, that probably concerned us as a practical matter, was an estimate of their academic capability because the service, particularly later rather than earlier, had a tendency to depart from the commanding officer's recommendations, the old centralization bit, and some staff officer in Ottawa would say well this failing academically ergo we should throw him out, well he might be failing academically, for a variety of reasons and still be a good service officer and I used to get into some battles royal over that or I might agree, but by and large we avoided that trouble by looking at the person's academic record and potential probably first of all and then secondly you tried to, I think, form an opinion of the kind of character he was and I used to be influenced and perhaps it was because of personal experience by his previous employment record; was he helping himself along, you know. The kid had a paper route and worked and saved his dough and worked some summers or a girl did and was getting some help where she could, he or she could to finance university, that's the kind of character you're looking for. Somebody who's demonstrated capability of some degree of independence at any rate. Then you'd generally, I was interested in their athletic activity and all of us were interested in whether they appeared to be generally aware kind of people, what kind of reading did they do? and this sort of thing. You'd just develop a kind of, you know, as a result...
End of Tape 1, Side 2


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