Chapter XII


Slowly the life of the battalion changed. Instead of patrols, company and battalion guards were mounted, and sharp improvement in deportment and dress were noted. A drive to re-organize the band got under way and before long it became a very famous unit and was put in charge of reorganization. Players were sought throughout the division and the band instrumentals were brought up from the Brussels Kit and Unit Storage Unit Depot.
The 8th Victory Loan Drive was conducted with a record total of $52,300 being subscribed. Shortly after, the reorganization of the companies started and the famous scout platoon was disbanded with many regrets. A history of the activities of the success of this platoon could fill a book in itself.
On 12th May, the battalion moved into the Fus. M.R. billets on the large Ofen Airport. Major Colgate was detailed to organize a complete sports programme which soon occupied everyone's spare time. The Sgts. and Officers Messes were just nicely started when the inevitable Army Order came in again - MOVE ON! This time to an airport north east of Aurich, about half way between Emden and Wilhelmshaven. The companies were scattered over the coutryside, each with its own area of responsibility in the gian ECLIPSE plan for the disarming of Germany.
The main job was locating ammunition and arms dumps, centralizing them and finally assisting in dumping them into the North Sea. Displaced persons were a problem and had to be herded into special camps which in turn had to have armed guards on duty. This work proved to be interesting. After this area was cleaned up and organized, the regiment was moved to the west of the town of Aurich situated on the Ems-Jade Canal. This canal cuts across the top corner of Germany for 80 miles. Battalion Headquarters was situated in an Aurich school and the companies were strung out along the canal for eight miles. Again the main job was the gathering and disposal of all surplus arms, with the added duty of patrolling the Canal. The remnants of the Germany Army of Northwest Europe were all hearded into the area north of the Ems-Jade Canal and it was "Verboten" for German civilians or soldiers to cross into or out of the area without a special pass. This brought searchlight batteries into use by having their powerful beams pointed up and down the Canal during dark hours, while S.Sask.R. troops were stationed along its length.
A very rapid change in personnel commenced. Volunteers for the Canadian Army Pacific Force were accepted and soon started moving away to other fields of duty. Veterans with high point scores for long months in England and Europe started back to Canada. Men from many other units, whose homes were in Saskatchewan, were arriving daily in order that shipping and rail transportation facilities in Canada could be most efficiently organized. The Q.M. stores were the busy bees of the unit. All unwanted stores and supplies were gahtered up and turned into Ordnance; new uniforms, patches and badges were issed out and the army game of signing your name for everything started once again. Sports, educational programme, and lectures Rehabilitation and Repatriation, all formed most of the training programs.
On 27th May, General H.D.G. Crerar, C.B., D.S.O., the G.O.C.-in-C. of First Canadian Army, paid an informal visit to the regiments and was conducted around the area by Major Buchanan, who was acting C.O., while Colonel Stott was acting Brigade Commander. On 30th May, the battalion took part in a brigade inspection by Lt.-Gen. G. Simonds, C.B., C.B.E., D.S.O., G.O.C. of 2nd Canadian Corps.
Orders were posted showing that Lieutenant R. K. Kerr had been awarded the M.C. for his gallantry at Xanten where he took command of "A Company in his first "action." Lieutenant Kerr unfortunately was killed at a later battle. He was one of the original members in the battalion and had been sent to Canada for his officers training course. Many other oldtimers like Major Vic Schubert and Captain W.L. Brown also left for Canada to go to the Pacific Force.
On 20th June, Colonel Stott flew to England for an investiture at Buckingham Palace where he received his D.S.O. from the King. On 25th June, a farewell mess dinner was held in the officers mess in honour of Major Buchanan who had been posted as 2 i/c to the Cameron Highlanders of Ottawa (M.G.) in the Occupation Force. His place was taken by Major G.E. Colgate. By the end of June it became necessary to 'freeze' a large number of personnel in essential jobs like clerks, cooks, senior N.C.O.s and some officers. The Canadian drafts were moving so fast it was affecting the efficiency of the regiment so something had to be done.
On 1st July, a 2nd Canadian Infantry Division "Mardi Gras" was held at Bad Zwischenahn. The regiment had entered a float typical of its Province. Under Captain Ken Coltman, the Pioneers had done a marvellous job. It featured a grain elevator, farm buildings, and depicted a very realizstic Saskatchewan scene.
At the "Mardi Gras", hot dogs, beer, C.W.A.C. shows, movies, side shows, exhibits, games of chance, broncho busting, ball games, and soccer games, swimming, sailing, and aircraft rides, kept everyone busy for 12 hours. A soccer team under the leadership of Captain Alex Matheson, held the 301st British Brigade Soccer Team to a draw. The most notable deficiency was the lack of women, but apart from that everyone returned home satisfied.
On 4th July, an advance party under Lieutenant M. Carmichael, left for Amersfoort, Holland, and on 5th July, the advance party for the Canadian Scottish (C.A.O.F.) arrived. On 6th July, the band made its first public appearance in the final ceremony of the changing of the guard and they received hearty praise from everyone. On 9th July, the S.Sask.R. track team, under Captain Marriott, took the Brigade Championship again, and the tug-of-war team under Lieutenant James beat the Toronto Scottish and 31st British A.A. Brigade for the Divisional championship trophy.
On 10th July, the Colonel spoke to the assembled battalion and complimented the men on their deportment in Germany, and impressed upon them the importance of maintaining an extra good example in Holland. That afternoon the relieving battalion arrived and last minute packing began in earnest. On 11th July, Colonel Stott left for Amersfoort, leaving Major Colgate to bring the battalion down in the brigade convoy.
The move was done in two days with a staging area at Assen where the battalion had to sleep outside under the stars for the last time in its Second World War career.