UBC Archives Audio Recordings Collection

[Interview with Arthur Lord, Armed Forces at UBC Project, Part II] Specht, Allen [unknown]

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Mr. Arthur Lord
July 25, 197 3
Interview, Tape 1, Track 2.
Mr. Specht: So it was the second day of the campaign before you got organized? Did you continue to drive up to the ridge then?
Mr. Lord: Well, then we consolidated our position. Then we were taken back for a rest and we had reinforcements come in and take our places. We went back to rest camp. But our battalion came out of Vimy about a company strong instead of four companies strong. Quite a few casualties.
Mr. Specht: It was a very successful campaign though, wasn't it?
Mr. Lord: Vimy Ridge? Very successful.
Mr. Specht: One military historian, I think it was Stacey said that it was the one campaign where by describing the battle and what actually took place, you'd also be describing the plans of the battle. It was almost clockwork in that sense.
Mr. Lord: Yes....of course I didn't know much about that, being a private. I've read lots of stories about it since. It was one of the best planned battles of the whole war. It was so thorough.
Mr. Specht: Were you in that sector very long?
Mr. Lord: No, I was wounded on the first of June.
Mr. Specht: This was after Vimy. Were you still holding that sector then?
Mr. Lord: Yes, there was a triangle there that was held for quite a while before there was any further advance. We had to consolodate. could't follow through very far just 4 or 5 miles I think. were holding railway banks there outside the city of we were only a company strong but we were told when went in to hold that line. I don't think the Germans would very likely counter attack anyhow. But a squad of the imperial Army gas men came along, what we used to call the hit and run squad. They'd let off a few bombs over our heads and onto the Germans beyond and then they'd beat it. Then we'd take all the stuff that came back as retaliation. Well it was coming back pretty strong. That's when I got mine.
Mr. Specht: What, schrapnel?
Mr. Lord: We used to call it minnennerfer huge trench mortar, three or four feet high. It as set off from just behind their line. You could see it and then it would start to come down. You had to wait 'til it started to come down to see where it was going to land and try and get the best cover. One of these had my name and number all over it. I started to run for the communications trench. It was close by there. You could get in there and lie flat and the schrapnel would go over you. But I didn't get there in time. A piece of schrapnel came and got me.
Mr. Specht: So where did you convalesce?
Mr. Lord: Well I was six weeks.....they weren't expecting me to pull through because the schrapnel had gone through my liver. Didn't expect me to live....but it was six weeks before they moved me to France and then from there T went over to England
and went up to Bay in Kent to convalesce there. I was in hospital for six months.
Mr. Specht: There was no question of you going back to the front?
Mr. Lord: Oh no. I got home in March of 18 before the Armistice.
Mr. Specht: Were you discharged right away?
Mr. Lord: Yes.
Mr. Specht: After the war, I wonder how you felt about it? Did you feel that the war was one to end all wars?
Mr. Lord:....make the world safe for democracy and all that. Well we had a nice long period there between the war. 20 years wasn't it before the rumblings started again?
Mr. Specht: Right. What did you feel like as a young man, right after the war in 1918, 1919?
Mr. Lord: Oh, just felt that that's all over. I don't want any thing more to do with army again. I had to face my university I had three years to go. I always had the idea I wanted to come through law. That's what I did. I finished university and then articled as a student. I always felt that had done my bit and we just hoped that there wasn't going to be another war.
Mr. Specht: Did you think about International affairs or politics at the time? League of Nations?
Mr. Lord: Yes the League of Nations. We were all very glad to see the League of Nations get going as we were all glad to see the United Nations get going this time. But the League of Nations was just as much of a sad disappointment as this one is...and more. it finally went out of existence. It had no teeth at all.
Mr. Specht: what about the campus during the war years... do you remember President Wesrook at all?
Mr. Lord: Oh yes.
Mr. Specht: What was your impression of him?
Mr. Lord: Oh he was a very, very fine man. I was on the students council when he came. I was only a freshman but they didn't have much of a constitution and freshmen were the largest body so they thought they should have a representative on the students council. I was asked to stand for election and I was elected. As such, I met with him quite a bit. He was a very fine man.
Mr. Specht: Were any professors that had a particular influence on you?
Mr. Lord: I don't know of one more than another. We were at the university at the best of times because there was a small student body and an awfully good faculty. We were all friends. We knew each other. We'd go and see them and discuss matters, that sort of thing. You can't do that these days because you just haven't time to give to it. As I say those were the best times of the university for getting a real all round education and speaking to men who after all some of them weren't very much older than we were as students. Some of them were probably only 7 or 8 years older than we were. Freddy Wood, for instance....I joined the Players Club and he was one that I feel awfully glad that T knew. We're still great personal friends. Freddy Soward, for instance.. most of them are gone now. Harry Logan's gone and was very
active. Mack Fastman gone and oh, there's so many of them.
Mr. Specht: You were very active in drama yourself. You liked it very much.
Mr. Lord: Yes yes I liked it.
Mr. Specht: Do you know why C.O.T.C. was abandoned right after the war. After the Armistice it pretty well shut down. I wonder why.
Mr. Lord: Well, knew I didn't want it to go in it. Harry Letson was very anxious to keep it going. He was a professor there at that time. But I think most of the boys and returned men just said, "To heck with it. I don't want any more of it.. military training. I've had enough and I don't think it's necessary ." Now we'd made the world safe...(chuckles)..from any further wars. I get that attitude a bit. I certainly felt that I didn't want to spend any more time in the Army or on military training. There was one indication of it when the...... You know those buildings there where the university used to be at the General Hospital. There was one that was a T.B. wing for a long time. That was our Arts building. The library was in there too. Harry Letson had his C.O.T.C. group out on the campus there just in front of this building. He was doing some drilling. One of the students His name was Weld, Jack Weld. He's still alive too. He got up on the roof of this building and got a hose and turned the hose on the C.O.T.C. (laughing).... We had a student court that time and Jack was brought up. I forget what the charge was against him but he was fined 10 dollars. The rest of the students had a tag day and raised enough to pay his fine for him. (chuckles)
Mr. Specht: Oh really! That indicated that the students were sympathetic to him.
Mr. Lord: some of them....a good many of them, yes. Of course we all treated it as a joke except some of the members of the C.O.T.C.
Mr. Specht: In the U.B.C. Alumni Chronicle there was a statement that there was a lack of discipline in the corps. This was probably 1918. No funds and there weren't any proper grounds or drill and the equipment was poor and things like that.
Mr. Lord: Yes, that could be. We had no place if they did want to build the corps up again. I don't know where they were going to drill. They might have been able to use the old drill hall down on Beatty Street for something like that. I know when I was with the C.O.T.C. before went overseas we used to do our drilling in an old warehouse down on Hamilton. This was in the bad weather and we were given lectures in there. But there was no place around there that was available for cadet training.
Mr. Specht: That was possibly part of the reason why the corps banded too. Facilities were very poor.
Mr. Lord: Lack of interest and facilities weren't there. There was no money. We couldn't persuade anybody that money should be Tent on training soldiers any more.
Mr. Specht: Was Dean Brock who had been in command of the 'D' Company trying to keep the Corps going at that time?
Mr. Lord: He stopped being connected with the C.O.T.C. except for when it was being formed to go overseas.
Mr. Specht: I see. what year did you graduate from U.B.C. ?
Mr. Lord: '21.
Mr. Specht: 1921. what did you graduate in?
Mr. Lord: Arts. I got a B.A. and my wife graduated in the same year. Then I went into law and articled to a lawyer here in Vancouver. I was called to the bar in 1924.
Mr. Specht: You didn't have to go to law school then?
Mr. Lord: Well, there was a school such as it was....called a law school. You had to attend lectures and lectures were given by members of the bar and the judges. You had to pess examinations, three examinations. What they called the first intermediate and second intermediate and the final intermediate. I went back to Osgoode Hall for my final year just because of the special training you could get back there.
Mr. Specht: I. When did you come back to Vancouver and resume practise?
Mr. Lord: That was in 1924. I went to Osgoode in 1922 -'23. I came back here in '24 and got called to the bar. I wrote my final exams, was called to the bar and went up to City Hall right away. I didn't put out my own shingle at any time.
Mr. Specht: You were always associated with the city, weren't you?
Mr. Lord: Yes, used to say that was the only one ever appointed a judge who'd only had one client in his whole career. (chuckles) That was the city of Vancouver.
Mr. Specht: You were elected to the U.B.C. Senate in 1924.
Mr. Lord: Yes.
Mr. Specht: Can you tell me how that came about?
Mr. Lord: Oh well, I'd always been interested. I'd been on the students council for three different years and president of the Alma Mater Society in my final year. I was always interested and still am very much interested in the University and its functions, administration and so on. Sherwood Lett, he and I thought it was time some students were on the senate, some early graduates. So we both ran and we both were elected. We were the first students, I think...on the Senate. But I
can't say that for sure.
Mr. Specht: How long were you on the Senate?
Lord: 36 years, I guess. Let's see 1924 to 1960.
Mr. Specht: Did you participate in any way in the great trek?
Mr. Lord: No, I was back in Osgoode Hall at that time.
Mr. Specht: How did you feel about the new campus coming about? The move to Point Grey....
Mr. Lora : Oh, wonderful. We'd all been working for that wondering when the day would come. We knew very well that by the time we graduated it couldn't be done but that was always in the background of everybody's mind. They had a good group there in 1922, 1923 with Ab Richards and Jack Clyne and several others. They really organized the thing and got it going.
Mr. Specht: Do you remember Geoffrey Riddehough? He was a student on carpus.
Mr. Lord: He was also in C.O.T.C.
Mr. Specht: In 1923 there was an affair on campus regarding a visiting poet from England, Sir Henry Newbolt. Do you have any recollection of that?
Mr. Lord: I remember the name. Was there some particular matter...?
Mr. Specht: Yes he was a very strong jingoist and very much...England was the best nation at making war a very patriotic poet. Students on campus at the time objected to his feelings at the time.
Mr. Lord: No, I don't remember that. What year was it?
Mr. Specht: 1923. It ended up that some of the Ubyssey staff resigned over the issue. C.O.T.C. Started to reform in about 1927 when some students got together and decided that they wanted to try and get the corps going again. I think in 1928....
Mr. Lord: Yes, it started up in 1428. Harry Logan was very active in that.
Mr. Specht: Would you like to give your version of how it was reorganized and why it was?
Mr. Lord: I wasn't there, you see.
Mr. Specht: But you were on the Senate then?
Mr. Lord: Yes.
Mr. Specht: There was quite a bit of opposition to it.
Mr. Lord: Oh yes. Some opposition from the families of students. They thought it was going to be compulsory. But it wasn't going to be compulsory. Some of the parents would say, " I don't want my son brought up to be cannon fodder. There's no need for it. It only gives them a military mind. They wouldn't do anything to try and prevent a war, they'd be glad of the opportunity of getting into one." Oh yes, remember that rather faintly but it didn't have much effect as in the end it got going.
Mr. Specht: Also 1928 wasn't a time when there was a great deal of international tension. I wonder why it started up at that point.
Mr. Lord: I don't know. It's a good question. Harry Logan might have had something to say about that. I think he was very active in its reformation.
Mr. Specht: Yes, he was the first commanding officer when it was reformed. Do you remember what Dean Brock's attitude was?
Lord: No, I don't.
Mr. Specht: t about President Klinck?
Mr. Lord: I don't think he had any objection. I think the main thing, here again, was finance. How were they to get the uniforms? Of course there was lots of room out there for drill and that sort of thing. They used the main Arts building, that's still standing, for lectures and below that there was a rifle range.
Mr. Specht: You were on the senate at the time it was being reformed and one of the objections to the C.O.T.C. being reorganized on campus was that this would mean that there was an outside influence on student affairs. in other word military would be able to have some influence in what went on on campus. The Senate was involved in
This, I believe because it came up with a sort of a compromise. They set up a military committee. Do you remember that? A committee which was composed of university people and the commanding officer to act as a cushion between the military and the university. You were on the Senate at the time.
Mr. Lord: Yes, I was. But I don't remember that.
Mr. Specht: What did you think of the corps at the time? Were you in favour of it reforming?
Mr. Lord: Yes, yes I was. They had enough of the boys who really wanted it. Its good training, you know for anybody. I think a lot of the young people in recent years would have been far better for a bit of military discipline. Of course maybe I'm a bit stretched on that myself. I like that type of discipline. I think it's necessary.
Mr. Specht: After the war you were fed up with any more military environment...I guess you must have changed over the 1920's and started to feel that there was a place for it on campus.
Mr. Lord: Oh, it might have been something like that. I just knew that as far as myself was concerned, I didn't want to have any more. I had done all I wanted along that line and I had other things to do. I certainly had no objection at all to the formation of the C.O.T.C. I thought it was a good thing.
Mr. Specht: Did you do anything at the time or shortly after to further the cause of the C.O.T.C. ?
Mr. Lord: When the Second War started, Shrum asked me if I'd come and join the C.O.T.C. there because they wanted somebody who'd had experience in the last war to be helpful. I took a course and became a 'one pip wonder'.... Along with several
others. That's how I got back into C.O.T.C.
Mr. Specht: Pack in 1928, did you meet Col. Logan ?
Mr. Lord: Yes.
Mr. Specht: What was your impression of him?
Mr. Lord: Oh well, I'd known him as a personal friend for many years. Treat admiration and respect for him. He's done a great deal for the university.
Mr. Specht: He was succeeded by Col. Letson. About a year after he became the commanding officer, Harry Letson took over. Do you remember how that came about? Was there a difference between Col. Letson and Col. Logan though? I know you weren't personally involved in the corps at the time but how would you imagine they'd have a different approach to being Commanding Officer?
Mr. Lord: I don't know. I know both men very well. Harry Letson was on that Cadet trip to Australia too. I'm not sure how they matched up as it were, as Commanding Officer of the C.O.T.C. Harry Logan had more of a gentle nature than Hrarry
Letson. Harry'd be the boss-man and let it be known in no uncertain terms. Harry's approach would be a bit milder.
Mr. Specht: Do you remember any of the other officers of the corps in its formative years?
Mr. Lord: You mean during this last war?
Mr. Specht: No, in the Prewar years....Pollock, Stacey? Col. Letson wasn't part of the university faculty, though, was he?
Mr. Lord: Yes, he taught mechanical engineering.
Mr. Specht: Mechanical engineering eh? Do you remember when the corps got underway, it was in the basement of the Arts building.
Mr. Lord: Yes.
Mr. Specht: Did you ever go down there yourself and look at their facilities?
Mr. Lord: No, not while the cadet corps was there as the C.O.T.C., no. I saw plenty of them after the second war started.
Mr. Specht: When the depression took place, this effected the campus as well as the C.O.T.C.
Mr. Lord: Oh, it did.
Mr. Specht: Would you like to talk a little bit about the impact the depression had on U.B.C.?
Mr. Lord: Oh goodness, that was awful. Our whole budget was cut. Harry Logan talked bout that in Tuum Est. He describes all the details in that. It was pretty bad. Some of the professors had to be let out and everybody got severe cuts in salary. It was a very, very trying time.
Mr. Specht: How about conditions in the city generally?
Mr. Lord: Very bad. It was the same thing.
Mr. Specht: You were solicitor-general at this time, weren't you? During the depression...
Mr. Lord: City solicitor, you mean?
Mr. Specht: Yes.
Mr. Lord: Yes, I took the city hall at that time. I took a severe cut too along with everybody else. The only trouble was to get it back again later.
Mr. Specht: Regarding the C.O.T.C. again, there was a really strong anti-war movement on campus. Do you remember anything of this? It was about 1933, '34, '35. Those were the high point years.
Mr. Lord: Well, I remember there was some opposition at that time to the operations of the C.O.T.C. But I don't know that it was very strong. It's not as though they were holding meetings like they've been holding out here in the last five or six years. Oh no, I don't think there were demonstrations of that kind.
Mr. Specht: In the Ubyssey it was reported that there was one vote on behalf of the students who were concerned. Now, this wasn't a very large percentage of the student body but quite a strong majority of the people at this meeting voted to abolish the C.O.T.C. I'm not sure if that indicates how strong the feeling was on campus or not.
Mr. Lord: I know that there was that feeling, of course but it finally passed and the C.O.T.C. kept up and they had the nucleus of it when the war came along.
End of Tape 1 Track 2.


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