UBC Archives Audio Recordings Collection

[Interview with Frank Turner, Armed Forces at UBC Project, Part I] Specht, Allen [unknown]

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Mr. Frank Turner
May 1, 1974
Interview 506, Tape 1, Side 1
Mr. Specht: What year were you born?
Mr. Turner: 1916.
Mr. Specht: Where?
Mr. Turner: Hong Kong.
Mr. Specht: Hong Kong!
Mr. Turner: Right.
Mr. Specht: How did you come to Canada then?
Mr. Turner: By boat (laughter).
Mr. Specht: What was the reason?
Mr. Turner: My father was overseas int he far-east with the Canadian Y.M.C.A.
Mr. Specht: Oh I see. What was your father's occupation?
Mr. Turner: Teacher.
Mr. Specht: And is your father of Canadian background?
Mr. Turner: No, he's from Yorkshire. He's the only one that came over.
Mr. Specht: When did he come to Canada?
Mr. Turner: 1908. He's alive and he's 91 and a half.
Mr. Specht: Where did he live when he came to Canada?
Mr. Turner: Well, he lived in Ontario, on the prairies and out here.
Mr. Specht: When did he go to the far-east?
Mr. Turner: I'm not sure, I think it was 1907 or 1908, one of those two. He was in Korea, Shanghai, Canton and Hong Kong.
Mr. Specht: How long were you in the far-east before you came to Canada?
Mr. Turner: About... I came back... my mother brought me back when I was seventeen months old on the Empress of Japan that's in Stanley Park.
Mr. Specht: You came back to Vancouver?
Mr. Turner: Yes. Well then we went from Vancouver to Ontario for, I don't know how many years and then went from Ontario to Vancouver. And then I grew up partly in Vancouver, partly in Penticton, partly in Haney and back to Vancouver again.
Mr. Specht: Your schooling was in B.C. though, eh?
Mr. Turner: B.C. yes.
Mr. Specht: Which high school did you go to?
Mr. Turner: Kitsilano.
Mr. Specht: You went to U.B.C. in 1935?
Mr. Turner: I'm not sure. 1934, 1935, I think it was 1934.
Mr. Specht: Which faculty were you in?
Mr. Turner: I was in the faculty of arts, taking Commerce. It was part of the Arts faculty in those days. Commerce is now a separate faculty. I took Arts and Commerce double degree course.
Mr. Specht: What was it like at U.B.C. in the 1930's? What do you remember of the campus?
Mr. Turner: Well, it was a little smaller than today. There was about 2,000 students and it was a much smaller place. And for the most part most of the people in Arts and Commerce know most of the people we had plus the odd engineer etc.
Mr. Specht: I suppose compared with today you could really get to know your classmates.
Mr. Turner: Oh yes. You would know them as long as you were in one class. You certainly wouldn't know them in the big class like English, Dr. Sedgewick had two or three hundred and Freddy Wood had two or three hundred in his class. But oh yes, sure, you'd meet them in the 'cuppa caf club' in the cafeteria.
Mr. Specht: Of course these were depression times too. I wonder what sort of signs of the depression would have been on campus.
Mr. Turner: Well you had to get loans if you needed them from Walter Gage, who was at that time and still is the head of the student loans. You had to get part-time summer jobs which I did. You had to get some help from your parents which I did. You did all those things in order to keep going. But I think we had a lot of fun because we didn't have much money therefore you made your own fun more that way.
Mr. Specht: What for example, what have you done that one wouldn't do today to make your own fun?
Mr. Turner: Today?
Mr. Specht: What you have done in those times in the '30's that you wouldn't do today?
Mr. Turner: Well, I think we were much more active in planning a social function than we would be today. We held many meetings and a lot of people would be mixed up in the decisions of what we were going to do and what we weren't going to do and what we were going to have and we would have probably skits or that type of thing featuring the people in our own group kind of thin. We'd be much more concerned with trying to plan other outings or picnics or that sort of thing than we would do today. We would, I don't know, maybe we would spend about the same amount of time in a pub as they do now, I couldn't tell you.
Mr. Specht: Did you belong to campus organizations?
Mr. Turner: Did I belong to a campus organization?
Mr. Specht: Yes.
Mr. Turner: Well, I played basketball, I belonged to the Ubyssey staff.
Mr. Specht: The newspaper?
Mr. Turner: Yes that's right. Well I belonged to the Big Block Club and I belonged to the Arts-Aggie committee and a few other things like that, sure.
Mr. Specht: Another feature of 193O's was of course, the increasing international tensions. I wonder how you... what you perceived as a student at this time? Mr. Turner: One function I forgot to mention. We had a lot of fun once a year, we had a 'snake parade' down through down-town Vancouver. You've heard of that before?
Mr. Specht: No I haven't.
Mr. Turner: The university officially frowned on such activities, but it would happen once a year aa part of the freshmen initiation program. And we would have a snake parade through the downtown Vancouver and most of the moving cars would stop and the streetcars would get pulled off the tracks and so forth. And the student president would demand that we not do this any more and so forth.
Mr. Specht: Snake Parade! What was that?
Mr. Turner: It's just a parade through the downtown streets of Vancouver. Just celebrating part of the initiation program, or hazing in those days it was called.
Mr. Specht: Why the term snake?
Mr. Turner: Well because we maneuvered in that fashion. It was very unofficial and frowned upon and I'm sure it didn't do much good in the public relations department with the downtown people. Now sorry, you go back to your other question.
Mr. Specht: I'm wondering what you perceived of international developments in the 30's.
Mr. Turner: Well about the only concern was the manner in which Hitler, particularly and Mussolini were arbitrarily going in on countries. Nobody was apparently stopping them. This wasn't right. The biggest probable thing was a sigh of relief end that would be the way to express it I guess, when Chamberlain went over to Munich and came back and said we were having peace in our time and we believed him so... why shouldn't we? There was that, there was also the realization that most of us were very social reform conscious. There should be better ways to overcome some of the problems in Canada. Those were the days when either you became a liberal rather than a... perhaps a very ultra-conservative in your political thinking or you became more radical and joined different kinds of organizations that were starting up, whether they were social Credit or C.C.F. or whatever.
Mr. Specht: You were sort of politically active groups then?
Mr. Turner: Oh yes. Most people were talking about things like that. They were worried about jobs really that's what they were worried about. Where were they going to go when they were finished? You know, this was very real and it was perhaps less true of those in the professions than it was in people in Arts, even Arts and Commerce, because there weren't that many business openings for Commerce graduates in those days.
Mr. Specht: You didn't join the C.O.T.C.
Mr. Turner: No.
Mr. Specht: Why not?
Mr. Turner: Well in high school I wouldn't even join the cadet corps at that time. I was under the impression that World War One finished all wars and I was very pleased to hear that. I thought there should be peace so I wouldn't even join a cadet corps. The second reason was in U.B.C. I was far too busy in my opinion to be joining anything other than what I was doing. Basketball practice was two or three times a week, the games once a week, the Ubyssey came out twice a week that was the student newspaper which I was involved in and make-ups and information on that plus a certain amount of part-time job, because I got a downtown press job as well to supplement my income so I didn't really have too much additional time even if I wanted to join the C.O.T.C.
Mr. Specht: But you wouldn't have because of your attitude?
Mr. Turner: No I don't think so. I think basically I wasn't interested in it no. I had one or two friends who were in it. And... for the most part I think that their backgrounds were... they had relations in it, that type of life appealed to them, that's all.
Mr. Specht: They had relations you mean who were in the army?
Mr. Turner: Well there was their fathers, uncles or grandparents or something like that. I don't know. I suspect this. Plus the fact they liked to get dressed up in a uniform and march around.
Mr. Specht: So what year did you graduate?
Mr. Turner: 1939.
Mr. Specht: What did you do then?
Mr. Turner: Well I went to work for the News Herald which is a defunct morning newspaper now, and that was an education in itself. It...in those days it was so small that it was possible to meet the other members of the university at least a member of the newspaper world and that paper and learn something about the make-up and the downstairs Linotype operators, the advertising people and the circulation department and so on which you can't do today. You could meet them first hand just like we're talking now and say what do you do and how do you do it and what are these district managers and what do they do and how do they do it and so on.
Mr. Specht: Why didn't you stay with newspaper work?
Mr. Turner: Well I didn't feel that after a length of time that I would... that I was necessarily going to go ahead there. I was still in sport and I was also in part time general reporting and things like Elgar Junior Choir recitals and obituaries, going to police court. It didn't really... the glamour I suppose had work off and I wasn't moving ahead fast enough in the editorial side to satisfy me. I had worked previously peddling groceries and peddling a bike for the W. Company and so I had been able to get a summertime job wit them so I thought I would go with them full-time. So I did.
Mr. Specht: How did the war affect your life?
Mr. Turner: How did if affect my life?... Boy oh boy, that's a tough one... I lost some people that I knew, you knew.
Mr. Specht: When I asked the question I meant more really how did if affect your... like you joined the forces and I wondered how it changed the direction of your life?
Mr. Turner: Oh yeah. Well I would think that apart from the awful aspects of it and losing people and so forth and the monotony most of it was monotonous, hours and hours of doing nothing, you know. An awful monotony which was a tremendous waste of time. But in my case when I did join the probationary or whatever it was in the navy, I joined as a civilian and I determined in my own mind that I was going to come out of the service a civilian. This was a deliberate effort on my part.
Mr. Specht: So when did you enlist then?
Mr. Turner: Well I actually enlisted, I'm not sure of the dates now, but I think it was sometime in 1941, in Victoria as a probationary officer.
Mr. Specht: With the navy?
Mr. Turner: That's right.
Mr. Specht: Why did you choose the navy?
Mr. Turner: Well I was sure by this time that like a lot of other friends in mulling over the different things we figured we would eventually be going away whether in the army or the Air Force or the navy so... marching as such never appealed to me, I'm not a flyer and I had no desire to do any gliding or anything so the thought of the navy appealed to me, I guess. No special reason other than that.
Mr. Specht: So what did you do in the navy?
Mr. Turner: What did I do in the navy? Well... you paraded for a period of time on a probationary period until you were finally accepted or otherwise and if you were then in my case, I ent to Royal Roads and that was four months training.
Mr. Specht: Officer training?
Mr. Turner: That's right. During this time we did everything. You know, you learned... you did all the things you were supposed to do, rowing at six-o-clock in the morning, taking signals, taking the other types, seamanship training, supposed officer training and parade ground training, a certain amount of machine gun training and other things like this. Whatever the... of a general nature trying to cram in four months what they probably should have four years with. During that time when you finished that you were a probational sub-lieutenant acting.
Mr. Specht: Where were you posted?
Mr. Turner: I thought you were going to ask me where I asked to be posted. What happened there was a lot of people, most of us wanted a sea tour so therefore you put down, you know, destroyers or T.M.P.B.s, or whatnot and the first posting I got was on a parade ground of Esquimalt (laughter).
Mr. Specht: So you ended up in Esquimalt. What was your role in Esquimalt?
Mr. Turner: Well I as doing training of seamen, stokers or whatever, third class rates is what they called them, both in the instructional sense plus special officers, plus parade ground work.
Mr. Specht: What particular kind of instruction were you involved in?
Mr. Turner: Well, if you know anything about a gunnery school that's where you come under field, what we call field training and this encompassed drill on the parade deck. This encompassed the use of arms, small arms, rifles, pistols and so on. Plus the elementaries of what the breech of a gun is and how it fires and what a does and what a trainer does and what their position is, what a captain of the gun functions are.
Mr. Specht: Sort of basic training then?
Mr. Turner: That's right. Anti-submarine basic training that's right.
Mr. Specht: How come you ended up in the training of men?
Mr. Turner: I don't know. I guess I have a certain bent for it. I've enjoyed working with people so maybe that's what happened.
Mr. Specht: What were the steps through that would have led you for example into training at a base instead of going to sea?
Mr. Turner: Well you have no decision on that. You were asked to. In Royal Roads there were 120, in training and you were asked to make a choice of one to ten of what you wanted to do so I put down. I wanted M.P.B. service in M.T.B.s overseas number one, I wanted destroyers number two, I wanted any sea time appointment anyplace in the world number three, etc. The last thing was training ashore. That was the last thing I wanted, so at last I got it. It was typical of a lot of the stuff that went on. It was a terrific disappointment to you if you do, if you tried... I worked hard at whatever I was doing, I did the best I could across the board in Royal Roads and so I was disappointed. Now I can't do much about it, I'm posted and while I was there I would do the best I can do while I'm there. So Iw as there for a certain length of time getting more and more frustrated so then I went to my superior officer and asked for a transfer to someplace or... I go to sea. That's what they navy's all about. So he said well just another week or two and you'll get to sea. So my next appointment was in charge of the rifle and pistol range at Comox, Vancouver Island. And it took me a long time to get to sea, but I finally got to sea.
Mr. Specht: What was your sea experience?
Mr. Turner: Well it was pretty good. I had some on this coast including a little wee convoy up to the Aleutian Island on this coast and I went... we worked out of hers and we worked out of Prince Rupert for a while.
Mr. Specht: Convoy duty?
Mr. Turner: Yes. Then I went over... eventually I put in for another course which was a short gunnery course so that was another four months course at Cornwallis in Nova Scotia. And after that you then became specialized and you could only be used in... as a specialty and you could only be used... your appointment came from Ottawa and you have to be used either at sea or in some specialized gunnery situation. So eventually after several months more at Cornwallis, Nova Scotia, I finally got to join a convoy on the North Atlantic run for a while as chief gunnery officer.
Mr. Specht: I guess that would probably be int he last year of the war was it?
Mr. Turner: That's right.
Mr. Specht: Going back to when you were in a training establishment at Esquimalt, I wonder did you... U.N.T.D. started in 1943. I wonder if you would have had any contact with the U.N.T.D.?
Mr. Turner: No. Not a bit. No. No, I was in, you know, it was just a matter of marking time. I knew nothing. I'd never heard of U.N.T.D. at all. I didn't know what they were. I knew what the Fisherman's Reserve were, I know what the N.R. was and so on. We were all V.R.s you see, R.C.N.V.R. That was... then there were 95,000 now there's 100,000 in the navy total, but about 90,000 were R.C.N.V.R.
Mr. Specht: What do you find attractive about the navy? What was your feeling about it?
Mr. Turner: I think it's the most fantastic experience that a person can have. Is that good enough? If you are prepared to go in with the attitude that you're willing to contribute, you're going to learn something, you're not going to start dishing it out until you've proven yourself capable of taking it. Now there are a lot of people who get mixed up with that and resent the whole system or the discipline or whatever, but if you go in, in the navy unlike the other services, well I shouldn't say unlike the other services, it could be the Air Force is different, but in the Navy you are always an individual and you always travel as an individual and you join different units or establishments as an individual - Allen Specht goes as an individual on a draft to any ship or establishment forever, his whole career. He's part of the Navy, he's under the white ensign, but he is very much an individual and all Specht is whatever he is, Leading Seaman whatever, and he joins a ship or an establishment as an individual. He's drafted that way, he's appointed that way. So you never lose... he's never lost in a regimental group at all. He's always very much an individual and his papers go with him like that. His S264 or his S206 go with him like that. His whole history goes with him like that. Now that's pretty good.
Mr. Specht: Say the Army by contrast because it's such a massive organization is this why you think the main difference is then? The huge numbers?
Mr. Turner: If I belonged to the D.C.R. or the Seaforth Highlanders of Canada or something, I'm part of that unit, am I not? And I travel as part of that unit for all time. I go to overseas, I go to Africa or wherever and the whole unit gets drafted from Vancouver to Toronto and you could argue the other way about that being tremendous, but you don't do that if you're in the Navy. If you're in the Navy that's it. You're in the senior service and all that stuff. You're part of the Navy aren't you? Allen Specht goes and travels as an individual in the Navy no matter how many years whether it's fifty years he always goes as an individual. He gets his little kit bag and off he goes to his ship and he arrives on board that ship and he reports on duty and they say okay there's your bunk, this is your coxswain and this is the number one and away you go. The watch is this right now you're in a blue watch and that's where you hang up the ax and stations, and this is what you do. Now each ship is obviously different size, different shape, different personalities and all the rest of it, tremendous. Just tremendous because you're mixed up with a floating hotel or a floating people all the time aren't you? You're a separate entity. It all depends on how good the leadership is. You have to learn how to define space up and down and sideways. You learn to live with different types of people and different ages and different quirks and without proper food in confined space and you learn a great deal about people in a. Very short period of time and they learn a great deal about you. At all times you know that you're Allen Specht and that you're... and that nobody can draft you except on your own record and maybe your next job will be with a cruiser, maybe you'll be on loan with the U.S. Navy, maybe you'll on loan with Royal Navy you don't know. Depending on the size of the ship depends what the spit and polish part of it is at sea. When you are ashore it's all spit and polish. Wherever you get any establishment, but when you're on a small ship most of the time the old man of any ship says you put a cap on when you went out to sea and you wore your old shirt and tie or no tie, nothing, and that was the rule in a small ship at sea. Now this is quite a strange experience for a young fellow to be exposed to and you're expected to look after your own bunk and your own hammock or make whatever we call it and your own grog, or not grog, and your own training program if you want some more money you have to keep qualifying and so forth. So you're reported upon two ways all the time. One is your seamanship ability or stoker or your engineer officer or whatever and you're recommended for further training and you get more money all the time and secondly was your department as an individual. Pretty interesting.
Mr. Specht: Yes, that's pretty interesting distinction you're making. Really in summary then you... what you cherished about the Navy above the Army was the fact that you were an individual not attached to a regiment.
Mr. Turner: I was attached to a big... great big team of the Navy if you life, but this appealed to me personally. You could join. The challenge was there each place you went to. I'm prejudiced obviously (laughing).
Mr. Specht: So, when were you discharged?
Mr. Turner: When I was discharged... eighteen days after I started Alumni work. January 27, 1946.
Mr. Specht: Would you describe how you got the position with the Alumni?
Mr. Turner: The Alumni? Well I was going to go back to the work I was doing before I dropped down to the talk with them and then I... I don't slam any doors, so I got home this night and saw this advertisement in the Alumni magazine, the Alumni Chronicle, advertising for a first full-time Alumni secretary, starting salary $2,500.00 per year and this was slightly less than the Navy pay at that time, but not less than I would probably make going back to Malkins where I worked before. So this sounded like an intriguing thing. I guess there's always the thing about being the first in anything it's a challenge. So I simply put my application in. I was interviewed by Ted Baines and one or two others and... this was... and I was given a position.
Mr. Specht: How long were you with the Alumni?
Mr. Turner: Eight years. I became frustrated.
Mr. Specht: 1946 then to 1954.
Mr. Turner: 1954, yes that's right. I left Alumni work May the first, 1954 and I joined the London Life Insurance Company May the third, 1954.
Mr. Specht: And you've been with them ever since?
Mr. Turner: That's right. Twenty years later. But it was a tremendous experience U.N.T.D. no question.
Mr. Specht: How did you become involved with the U.N.T.D.?
Mr. Turner: Dr. Norman A. McKenzie, president of U.B.C. at the time, called me over from the Alumni office one day and said "Professor McIlhor is retiring from the job, or wants to retire from the job as Commanding Officer of the U.N.T.D. - U.B.C. How would you like to take the job?"
Mr. Specht: What did you say?
Mr. Turner: Well I was a Lt. Cmdr. At that point in the time and I'm not that far away from it so I said sure. I'd love to. What do I have to do? I forget the date on that but it was about 1947 I guess. Somewhere in there. I was with them for seven years.
Mr. Specht: Can you remember what your impression was of the unit when you started? As Commanding Officer?
Mr. Turner: Well I remember some of the fellows were pretty sharp and some of them weren't. They had a kind of general attitude that... I'm not being critical of anyone when I say this, a general attitude that it was time in. And if they got their four years in the wintertime going to parade and became probationary officer in the Naval Reserve and that it didn't really matter how hard they worked at this at all. There was no summer training anyway. It was a pretty social thing.
Mr. Specht: Wasn't there two weeks in the summer?
Mr. Turner: Well there might have been two weeks. I forget. Initially it wasn't any great amount of time, about two weeks. I honestly forget, so it could be.
Mr. Specht: Not very much compared to later on?
Mr. Turner: No. You can't do much. That's right. I think it probably was initially two weeks. There as a four year program and two of the cadets who were involved in that at that time who shall be nameless had. Avery casual attitude towards the whole thing and so I had a chat with them and I gave them a further warning that if they didn't show up on a more regular basis they would be drummed out of the unit. I don't think they believed it so they didn't wish to be concerned with this so I said well okay you're out and both of the father phoned me up and I wanted to see me and I invited both of the fathers to come and see me. So they did and after I'd finished talking with them individually they said well okay, you're right and I think it's a very good thing this has happened to my son. They were drummed out. Well after that there was less problems in terms of warning them to show up to parades in a sharp manner. It's not their fault I guess.
Mr. Specht: so there was perhaps a looser attitude then when you entered?
Mr. Turner: Yes. Well we were lucky from there. There's a continuous battle with Ottawa all the time as to what support or not you're going to get for whatever this U.N.T.D. is you see.
Mr. Specht: Yes. I wanted to add in 1962 the U.N.T.D. made up an official history of the U.N.T.D. and I'm going to quote something and you can comment upon it. It says here "there was a great deal of uncertainty after the war about the U.N.T.D." Can you elaborate about that?
Mr. Turner: Oh yes... The university Naval Training divisions were started as you mentioned in 1943 and they started for the most part through the universities deciding they should have three service opportunities rather than one.
End of Tape 1, Side 1.

Mr. Frank Turner
May 1, 1974
Interview 506, Tape 1, Side 2
Mr. Turner: No one in the Navy at that time could figure out whether or not the U.N.T.D. program was worthwhile from the training establishment to produce officers for the reserve, which was the only justification for it's existence as far as the Navy was concerned. And no one really wanted to have the U.N.T.D. program under their respective wing. Whether it was D.N.R., the Director of Naval Reserves or whether it was some other department of the Navy. Nobody wanted them. They didn't know what to do with them anyway even if they did get them. There weren't that many ships, they didn't know what the commitment of money might be for the reserve for defence purposes anyway so they were not satisfied that the program as it was with a lack of any professional training in the summertime, two weeks, that was any real value. So there was a continuous fight. Fortunately for us Cmdr. Herbie Little, caused meetings to be held once a year of all the C.O.s of U.N.T.D.s across Canada plus as many staff officers as could attend and he sold the concept that the U.N.T.D. program should be a total reserve program, should be under the D.N.R. the department... at least the Naval Reserve. It should be run by D.N.R. and D.N.R. should make available in Hamilton on the Great Lakes ships available for summer training and the cadets should be paid for the summer training, the university naval training cadets and they should be on a par with the other cadets, officer training cadets and all other cadets going plus the fact that if any reserve ships were available on the east or west coast these should also be available for summer training for U.N.T.D. cadets. Well it took him a little time to sell this concept to anyone, but he eventually did and over a period of a few years it developed into a very fine program in a certain time. This also guaranteed summer employment which was an important factor for the university students. And it was a reasonable pay. They didn't compare with what they would make in forestry or logging industry, but it did guarantee them full five months or almost five months of pay. Well this in turn meant that they were going to have two or three summers, full-time summers in the programs, bit it was not necessary to have four years of training in the wintertime and it was quite a debatable as to whether the wintertime program was any good or not. At the same time that this was going on the R.O.T.P. program was introduced if you will recall, int he three services, so we automatically inherited whatever R.O.T.P. cadets or whatever they were called were on the campuses or camp, we also... the Navy also introduced a C.W. candidate program which was a certain number of cadets from lower decks to go right through university under a special deal and those people were also attached to the U.N.T.D.s concerned at the different campuses in the wintertime. So there were fights back and forth for quite some time. Then as soon as they accept the concept of junior cadet status then they automatically said that they were part and parcel of the Naval Reserve and therefore they were junior officers in the Naval Reserve therefore they were entitled to their own mess which we called the Gun Room. Well then each of those universities in the wintertime attempted to set up a Gun Room or get the use of the war room which is the Naval Officer's Mess for their cadets. We were lucky enough to... well that's a long story, to get the gun room in Discovery, H.M.C.S. Discovery. This then meant that we had a really nice place for the cadets themselves to have their own social functions with their girls on occasion plus themselves you see. And this assisted in the wintertime, I'm quite sure in the Spirit de Corps or whatever you like. Then we got, see when we got eventually a top flight program, we were getting fussier in who we took and we were restricted in the quota anyway as to how many we could have so then we had the selection boards evolved and then this in turn to people like Professor who did a great deal of work on this and the terrific staff officers like P. Thomas and others that became staff officers. We got full time help in the wintertime also to assist us in the program. All these things meant that we were able to accept a certain quota and reject others you see. And we worked together very effectively with the other units on the campus, the Air Force and the O.T.C. then web acme closer together all the time. We had the tai-service ball, parade and all that. And we worked together also as the Army had to fill their quota and they still had some other people they would automatically send them to the Navy and the Air Force. We worked together on the recruiting in the fall. Very, very fine. So yes we had lots of problems and we were lucky enough to get going just one week before they said we couldn't have it so... Let me just add one thing I was very lucky in the type of people who worked with us, really and truly I was.
Mr. Specht: The people at Discovery you mean?
Mr. Turner: No, no. Dennis, I can't remember all the names, but many, many of the ex-naval officers around the campuses taking courses, Dennis, Frank Dayton who was an engineer officer plus a flyer-type you know. Then the C.W. guys that came to the university Maynard to name one, a gunner's mate. Terrific.
Mr. Specht: Your officer staff then just came from retired veterans of the sea?
Mr. Turner: Right. Plus the candidates going through on R.O.T.P. or going through on the C.W.s, see? One of the gunner's mates had fifteen years in the Navy and he was returning to university. So he was my number one N.C.O. if you like, obviously.
Mr. Specht: That brings to mind a question I wonder how the older more seasoned navy men what kind of effect they had on the students who were just sort of fresh in the...
Mr. Turner: Well I think it was a tremendous thing both ways. I think there was a tremendous effect of the veteran students as a whole on young students and vice-versa. I think it was a very exciting time to be on the university campus while we were there. I really do. It was exciting both ways I think. The veteran students where very appreciative of the opportunity whether they were married or singly of going to university for the most part. Oh yeah, and they thought of these younger students as little kids and all that, but by they same token the freshness and exuberance and enthusiasm of the youngsters reflects itself on others. Not just not on the services on other activities on the campus. We worked together int he War Memorial Gymnasium for example and that was a complete student effort and that went on for two or three years out there and Lt. McLeod I think was the first of it.
Mr. Specht: Judging by the high enrollment it seems that there was really a lot of enthusiasm after the Second World War for the services, compared to the First World War for sure?
Mr. Turner: Oh yes there was, but well there was no similar type of what I call veteran's dole I don't think in World War One and there wasn't the same interest in a university education after World War One either I don't think as compared to World War Two and the government of the day in World War Two they put through a meaningful program where there was not just tuition help, but a total that made it possible for them to take the university training, for tuition plus money plus allowances and kid's allowances and all that plus housing. And Dr. Shrum went and found some huts and put them on campus, you know. Could find them and you had a man like Dr. McKenzie, the president at that time who was a World War One veteran and a tremendous individual, you know. There was a lot of interest. Col. Harry Logan, you know, people like that.
Mr. Specht: In this official history it refers to getting the gunroom as a fluke. Would that take you too long to describe?
Mr. Turner: I'm sorry I missed your question.
Mr. Specht: In the official history it states that acquiring the gun room was a fluke.
Mr. Turner: Well it was a fluke in the sense that I know what a gun room is and I know that if a junior officer in the Navy, if they don't have quarters available to them in the form of a gun room then provision must be made for them in the senior officer's mess which they use as a ward room. Well you can rest assured there were lots of senior officers attached to H.M.C.D. Discover in those days who wanted no part of a bunch of young kids so to speak, coming into their ward room. Well if they didn't financially support them and physically say it's okay with us with this room over here, and go ahead and give them their blessings to have the gun room well then they would have been in the ward room which they wouldn't have been very happy with. So by the same token the cadets I said, well, look if you want this gun room you're going to have to work at it physically ripping walls down and cleaning the mess and you're also going to have to do around and I'll help, raise money from people that might wish to assist you in this regard. There were some chancellors and other people like this who were happy to see initiative being displayed by students for a thing like this. So they gave them some financial support to built this gun room. So both the physical and the financial support plus a donation from the ward room down there. The cadet gun room is still down there at Discovery, it belongs to them.
Mr. Specht: This was built on Navy property and would you not have to get orders from above to get permission to do it?
Mr. Turner: Any Naval Reserve unit automatically has the right of a ward room and a gun room. Anyone. And as long as you have a ward room and a gun room in a Naval Reserve that's permissible. They didn't change the rules until one week after the gun room was completed. Then they said that the Naval Reserves across Canada are so small and there's so few people this is a bunch of nonsense making provisions for gun rooms as well as ward rooms. All the junior officers attached to the... the Naval Reserve attached to any reserve establishment shall go in the ward room. There shall be no more gun rooms, in the Navy Reserves, but by the time they had done that we had it so we said well we have this, well since we've got it, we'll assume since it's in existence prior to this deadline it's perfectly right to keep it and they said that's okay. That's how we kept it. It was pretty important. So we were lucky in that the timing that's all. Mind you it was a lot of work too.
Mr. Specht: The first annual parade and ball started in 1949?
Mr. Turner: Something like that, yes.
Mr. Specht: In the official history also refers to a Cadet Levy. Did you know him?
Mr. Turner: Yes. He's our lawyer, barrister and solicitor. Yes he's tremendous. He did a tremendous job, Darrel S. Levy. He was Captain or... he was either Captain or Commander. He did a tremendous job. Darrel S. Levy, he was Ex. O. And he stayed wit the naval reserve for years and years. He was executive officer of H.M.C.S. Discovery down here.
Mr. Specht: What was the significance of starting these annual balls? Why did you have them?
Mr. Turner: Well I think the C.O.s plus the staff officers, especially the staff officers, I guess used to meet fairly regularly on the campus. And I guess probably it was started in 1949 you can correct me on this. But I think it was probably started because of the opening, the year before, of the Memorial Gymnasium you see. Probably because... for the war memorial ceremonies. I'm quite sure it would be President McKenzie's suggestion and desire that there should be a tai-service parade to that and a ceremony by the three services in the dedication which would be the case and I think this probably ended that way and somebody said well why don't we have a ball, you know. I don't know, I would give the Army credit. I think that probably it was the O.T.C. C.O. which would be Bob Bonner, I think, who would get the marks for that. I think that they had the armouries. The U.B.C. armouries belonged to the Army out there the O.T.C., so I would think they possible were the instigators in the original sense, of the Tri-Service Ball. Definitely. We had terrific cooperation. We would argue amongst ourselves, on occasion about different things, but we had excellent cooperation between the three services. No question.
Mr. Specht: You seem to be quite concerned about the training. For example you wrote a report in 1951 saying that we have to be continuously be reviewing the training program, making sure that... and you felt there was real need to get feed back from the cadets who went through the training too, to see how they were finding it.
Mr. Turner: Well... it's difficult in the Naval service to upgrade I suppose the total training that you could give anyone that's a university trained person. Not the first summer but the second summer. The criticism would be more that they weren't getting enough... there was too much monotony and there was not enough additional challenges being given to them, you know. That we should have had programs where they were on the international scene being much more fleet maneuvering with the U.S. Navy and that type of thing, or with the British Navy, the Royal Navy and in the naval sense. Or maybe we should be teaching them more different things of the Army or the Air Force or the three shrives. It's a difficult thing to... for me to try to recall specifically, but generally speaking there was not... not challenge enough and not sophisticated enough for them that's all. And I don't know what the answer is. It's no longer here.
Mr. Specht: Another quote from this history. It says "they key organization in the success of the U.N.T.D. was the tri-service committee." This would be the campus tri-service set-up
Mr. Turner: Whose quote is that?
Mr. Specht: This is front the official history of the U.N.T.D. written in 1962.
Mr. Turner: (Laughing)... I wouldn't buy that at all. Not during my time anyway. The key to our success initially was the fact that we were lucky enough to have a lot of ex-naval officers on our campus gain through as students. Secondly that we were lucky that they instituted the C.W. program so we got two or three per year of top flight naval personnel... service naval personnel who were going through to get their commission had to go through university and these people were the N.C.O.s that's like Sgt. Mjr.s are in the Army say. They were going through university. I glommed onto those fallows for instruction, for training here in the wintertime and the key to the rest of it was the up-grading of the summer training program. We got through the D.N.R., Herbie Little and yakking at the people down in Ottawa. No question in my mind. And we were lucky in that we had the gun room and this was a tremendous thing. You know we could be pretty choosy because the gun room... the navy cadet is part of the Reserve and entitled to all the privileges of a full Junior officer including whatever it is. Including beer or wine or whatever, and his own place. I would strongly suspect that this had a certain definite appeal to certain people on the campus. The tri-service committee later on I would agree to that, but not initially. I think the support given by Dr. McKenzie, by the former chancellor Eric Hamber and others who gave - I forget how much money they gave towards that gun room personally, but the cadets went around themselves and got... the navy cadets went around themselves and got that physically, personally. And they went down and built this thing and that's where they were on social functions the U.N.T.D. cadets were there. That was their headquarters from week to week in the wintertime. It belonged to them. They had their own lock you know. So no I... I think the competition between the services, it you put it that way I would agree that that was good too. Sure we would try and and we took our turns in the tri-service sense, yes. And the cooperation that we got from talking to one another sure, all those things.
Mr. Specht: How about the existence of the C.O.T.C. would it have perhaps provided an example or here was a unit on campus which was being very successful and this would have given you some kind of... something to refer to when you were starting the U.N.T.D. after the war.
Mr. Turner: May I interject here. Now I disagree with that heartily the reason being that I arranged with the C.O. of H.M.C.S. Discovery which was a complete naval establishment and I said look you parade on Tuesday nights that's your regular parade night right? And this was first was McDonald's predecessor and he said right. I said well alright now why can't we come down here and me sit in your chair and me take over as C.O. on Monday nights for our parade night and my counterpart as an ex.O., executive officer sit in the Ex.O.s chair and the signal officer over in the communications chair and we just did. When we take over the base on Monday night why can't we physically take over all the office space just the same way as it is now? And he said "Contrary? Carried." So we simply moved in to a complete naval reserve unit and each of us serving in the Navy knows all about what we're supposed to be doing and all the procedure and drills and everything else was automatic. We didn't need any reference to O.T.C. or Air Force for any of that stuff at all. I wouldn't know what to do with it. My program. or our program in training was laid down by the department, you know, by the Naval Service not by anybody else. So if you were a cadet we had our own selection board no reference... we didn't require... we finally had traveling selection boards which was all Navy. We had no non-naval people serving on the selection board. Why would we? So that each... if you were the executive... Jerry Levey was my Executive Officer to start with, he was in the Ex. O.'s office at H.M.C.S. Discovery, that's where he went, every night. So it was very simple, no necessity... because our training was done not on the campus at all. We didn't do any training on campus. We did all the training down at Discovery in the wintertime with the odd exception. I might say well we're going to have an odd-ball drill session in the armouries with the permission of the O.T.C. tonight. But otherwise no, we did all our training in the wintertime and at H.M.C.S. Discovery. We even used their own tender, a little wee ship on the weekends in the wintertime, see. We had permission to use that so... I'm not knocking the O.T.C. at all when I say that, but we survived and we improved by working together, sure. We sold I think the students generally more in interesting themselves in the service life and the routine and what they could get out of it, by working together and we enjoyed this and we were very proud to be part and parcel of the tri-service parade and ball... and certainly I take my hat off to Gordon Shrum and Dr. McKenzie and Col. Letson and all the rest of them in the Army. They started the thing in the first place. There wouldn't have been any U.N.T.D. without Prof. McIlroy out there in the first place. It's different, we were lucky after the... it's a different type of organization. The Army was very and is not now a part of the Reserve as such. That's the difference. And the Army monies out there in the
trust fund had to be set up, they had to set up a special trust fund which Col. Shrum can tell you all about separately, well that's not true of the Navy. The money in the Reserve, it doesn't matter what part of the Reserve it comes from, it's all part of the Naval Reserve. No matter where it is in Canada. You actually belong to the auditor for that. Not some separate deal over here. But the poor O.T.C. in World War One had collected waived pay, but they had to give it to the Army in the end. Colonel Shrum overcame this by setting up a trustee plan. That's where the armouries came from on the campus, which with the way money was waived into that trustee's plan. Which included the Navy students and the Air Force students was not very much money, but in terms or the money or whatever in the Naval Reserve it's a different set up. I believe that it made it easier for us, Much easier for us because we were under only one thing and that was the Naval routine whatever it was and as soon as you got under the Department of Naval Reserves then we all knew who we came under directly in the Navy so maybe we would get no help at all in summer training or winter training, but that's what we came under.
Mr. Specht: I would think though that the precedent of training, of officer training in the C.O.T.C. would have been of value. You know, that this organization exists and is accepted by the university and university people who had been working with the officer's training unit.
Mr. Turner: I don't know what you want me to say about this If you want to say the example of men like Haines, a good friend of mine, or Ray Herbert or Bob Bonner or Harry Letson or Harry Logan or people like that could be an example, sure. They were all terrific examples, but as far as officer training in the Navy is concerned you'll never ever ever hear any Navy person at any time in history believe that you could train them any better than the system that they have. That doesn't mean that they can't work with other people or have enjoyment with the other people, but and... it doesn't mean any difference in the quality that any one of the services are looking for, but I'm quite sure the Air Force felt things exactly the same way we did. They could train their men the way they wanted because they were going to fly and they had their own training. They don't require some of the procedure drills that perhaps the Army does. And I'm quite sure if you talk to an Army man the only kind of officer training plan that's worth anything is the Army plan anyway. The rest are all subsidiaries. If you didn't have this pride of the service built into you and your own ability then you would have difficulty inculcating any pride of service. We had the best unit in Canada, I figure. You tell Herbie Little that we had the best U.N.T.D. unit in Canada and he said "you have the best one west of the Rockies." (Laughter).
Mr. Specht: In this period a magazine was started by the U.B.C. U.N.T.D.?
Mr. Turner: Yes. The cadets started it. It ran for about one year. They started it up just because they felt that they would like to have their own magazine to once a year to produce something for their own selves, once a year. They'd take a look at it I guess in the future and to describe what they did in the winter time and what they did in the summertime and then we used this magazine also in our recruiting program, had extra copies made. And we sold, again they did it, the student cadets did it. No one else... we didn't do it. The cadets worked... I approved it or otherwise in the end, but they did all the editorial work, they did all the selling and advertising tor the thing. It was a tremendous experience and they did the writing as well, the editorial writing, which was a tremendous experience tor them as well. We got guest articles by the chancellor and the president and so on. And they got articles from the other... O.T.C. and the Air Force units as well, you know.
Mr. Specht: You were C.O. in really the high point of the units because... in terms of numbers. This is what I'm really saying. Because the quota wasn't introduced until 1954 - 1955. And you stepped down at that time.
Mr. Turner: Maybe it's only because again that the timing was right, that's all. There was a great enrollment, there was a much greater percentage of Navy people on the campus going to school and even when they were finished you see, I was able to say well come on Jerry, you're finished, but what are you going to do. How about staying on as cadet officer? You know? And Dayton or whatever so it's not hard if you're working with them... you know, ask you to stay on. So they did, and quite a number of them actually, fellows like Peter Grantham now stayed on the Reserve. A number of them stayed on the Reserve. Over the years too. Served many, many years.
Mr. Specht: You did get quite a few going to the reserve, but, of course one of the reasons for reducing the quotas though was because they weren't sure they were getting as many as they wanted. Mr. Turner: That's right. It was a disappointment to the powers that be in terms of the percentages they got in the active reserve so I said well okay your problem is that its difficult for a young man, young persons to, just starting out, he graduates from university, most likely he gets married in a year or two and he's in a career and he does not feel that he has the time to spend in the reserve and he sure can't take time out from his work for four or five months of the summertime training. So on the other hand he is trained so if something does come up its not going to be too tough to give them a refresher course. Mr. Specht: Do you think that many cadets after they graduated and got established would have perhaps started to come back to the reserves?
Mr. Turner: Not very many, no. There's a valid reason it's the same with everything else, you know, you get married and you get two kids around the house, what are you going to do? You're
going to spend more and more time with your kids and your job.
Mr. Specht: So how come you... can you tell me why you left the U.N.T.D.? What were the circumstances?
Mr. Turner: I served from 1946 to 1954 I guess and I guess I had had enough at that point in time, you know. I mean what could I do? I had long since been away from instruction in a sense so what am I going to do from there?
Mr. Specht: So you just felt now you'd like to leave and let someone else take over?
Mr. Turner: Oh I was leaving the campus anyway and I left the campus, practically speaking left the campus. You can't hold that job as university training division C.O. unless you're on campus in some capacity.
End of Tape 1, Side 2


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