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Regimental Christmas Activities
Children's Christmas Party - December 13, 2009

Mrs. Ottilie Kelly, President of the Calgary Highlanders Family Association, sent the following photos of the annual 2009 regimental Children's Christmas Party; this year's festivities included face painting, crafts, and of course a visit from a special guest.

All photos are thumbnailed, click to enlarge

All Ranks Christmas Dinner - December 12, 2009

The traditional Christmas Dinner for the troops was held on Saturday, 12 December 2009.

All photos are thumbnailed, click to enlarge

Master Corporal Jackson gives the pre-Christmas safety briefing in the mess. Receiving Line Dinner was held in the Mewata Garrison Officers' Mess, appropriately decorated for the occasion.
  McTavish remained on guard throughout the Dinner. The head table is piped in.
Corporal Toussaint can't believe he's been selected again for the honour of trading places with the RSM for the evening. Who knew they still made bottles that needed bottle openers? Not the servers, apparently. The youngest Private soldier in the Regiment becomes the Commanding Officer for the evening.

The new C.O. gets advice from an old pro.

The new RSM gears up for his post- retirement career as a motivational speaker.

The "real" RSM sums up the year's activities and looks to the future while Private Soice does his Jim Halpert impression.

The troops pay rapt attention.
Senior NCMs at the back of the room.

A request from the C.O. - a Christmas Carol from the instructors on his BMQ course.

Corporal Russell tries to remember the "PG-rated" lyrics to his favourite carol.

Harmony section.

Master of Ceremonies Captain McLean announces the end of the dinner, in front of Lieutenant Colonel Mark Tennant's portrait.

The lonely life of a subaltern in The Calgary Highlanders.

After-dinner entertainment; the Regimental Pipes and Drums.

Packing the house. Marching off.

Final Report
Corporal Dave Jaeger

Hello everyone (not G'Day anymore, since I am now back in Canada), 

It has almost been a month since coming back to fridge Canada, but since getting back my civilian work has put me to work right away with a lot of clients trying to get the testing done before the end of the year not giving me much time to report on my final competitions in Australia. 

I have had a long (too long) fun and adventurous time in Australia traveling around, competing, and seeing the sights; but it is now good to be back here in Canada.  Yes it is a little colder here; but it is not far different then the place I left, which is Sydney which never got above 20 and sometimes got down to 0 at night; but I also like the cold and winter. 

My last week of races after two days off after a poor running performance was interesting.  On Wednesday was my heat in the Critium Bike Race with 24 others including ex-Olympian Alexander Torlachenko (RUS), which I was going into the race not expecting much because a lot of the riders were international class riders.  Critiums are fun but they scare the hell out of me; so I stayed at the back which is the worst place to be but the safest.  Surprisingly I was able to stay with the lead group for 12 minutes before being dropped, and I was lapped and pulled with 18:16 minutes left in the 20 minute Crit placing 18th out of 24, which I need to place in the top 7 to make the final, but not bad considering I thought I would be pulled after 10 minutes with the riders I was riding against, overall I was 51st out of 95. 

The next day was the Individual Time Trial (ITT) Bike Race, which consisted of hilly two 9.5km laps of the Eastern Creek Grand Auto Race Way (consisted of the race way, drag strip, connector roads, and some parking lots) with 32 (with some sharp 90 degree corners).  I was able to completed the 19km ITT (large Crit) course in a 30:14.81 in strong winds, placing 20th in my age class (Men 40-44) out of 51.  The next day I had a little of an advantage because the 70.4km Road Bike Race is on the same course as yesterday's ITT, but with 122 racers in my age class, it was going to be interesting.  After the start I was able to stay with the Peloton for two out of the seven and a half laps, but with Alexander and  the Russians pushing the pace I was dropped with a lot of others, so I formed a group with seven Aussies which was the third chase group for the rest of the race, during the race I was a lot stronger than the Aussies in my group and kept dropping them on the up and down hills which gave me an advantage with the last two up hills and a downhill to the finish, put they were expecting that and I finished 3rd in my group of eight with a good sprint to the finish, overall I finished 63rd (but I think it was better because there was a lot of riders behind us and they might have crossed the finish line a lap short after being lapped by the leaders. 

The last day of my Australia competitions was Saturday's 3km Open Water Swim in Sydney Harbor which I was looking forward to and my last chance for a metal, but after a delay the race officials officially canceled the race upsetting the 600 swimmers there because the water was too cold (about 16 degrees) and with FINA rules of no open water races below 18 degrees (no wet suits allowed in open water swim competitions), so most of us protested by doing the swim anyways which wasn't bad and we all had fun, also I wouldn't had a chance for a metal with two Olympic Gold medalist in my age class and a dozen that swam under a 9 minute 800m five days ago.  On Sunday was the closing ceremonies, which was just as good as the opening ceremonies just with a lot more drinking and partying. 

Overall I had a fun time in Australia, but in my races I failed in my goal of winning at least one metal in the 8 races at three international competitions (6th at the Kangaroo Hoppet (Race #1 of the World Loppet Series), 31st at the ITU World Aquathlon Championships, 106th at the ITU World Olympic Distance Triathlon Championships, 35th at the World Masters 10km Road Running Race, 51st at the World Masters Critium Bike Race, 20th at the World Masters Individual Time Trial Bike Race, 63rd at the World Masters Road Bike Race, and finally get the World Masters Open Water Swim Race cancelled); but considering all the races had international competitors and me being sick or injured for one of my races, I am happy with what I did.  I am also considering officially retiring from triathlons and running races for at least five years to give my bad knees and ankles a rest.  I will be staying with Nordic skiing, road biking, and swimming, and I may even get back into kayaking. 

You can check out some videos of the Kangaroo Hoppet on for which I was interviewed. 

That is all for now, it is time to get back to work.

Dave Jaeger

Reporting In
Warrant Officer H

As before, Operational Security precludes the disclosure of names of personnel on assignment in Afghanistan; but this report comes from a Calgary Highlander currently serving on operations:


Having completed the first few weeks here in the sandbox, I find myself in a different role. The job I am performing affords me a perspective of the battlespace that I have not seen before. It is a job which opens my eyes to the bigger picture. I see and hear more this time. Last time, my world was what was around me, the few feet in front of my face. This time, it's a bit more than a few feet. I cannot go into too much detail, as those who have been here understand the OPSEC rules. If you don't know what I am referring to, ask one of the SNR NCO's on the next parade night. The country has not changed a whole lot. The smell is still there. The dust still gets everywhere. The heat will come. At the moment, it is dropping down to 0 at night, about 15 during the day. Winter here is different than back home. The sounds of the comings and goings of aircraft are not far from anyone's mind. The routine will mostly be the same. Operations go on and people come and go. I do get "outside the wire", but not as frequently as last tour. It's about 50/50. I am glad for my secondary job. It's fun. I do see a few other Highlanders on base. They are all busy getting things squared away. We usually get a few minutes to quickly chat. Its good to see familiar faces from the unit.

My handover from the French was fairly quick and the language made it interesting. They had a decent group. Funny thing is, we will hand back over to them when we are done here. At some point, I hope to get photos back to you all.  Take care and keep training hard.  Have a few beers for me during the Christmas dinner. I will think of the unit at Christmas.

TF Freedom

Remembrance Week

A week of activities around Remembrance Day were observed by Calgary Highlanders in Europe and Calgary. A separate article is available here which details these functions. The main Regimental event was the ceremony at the civic cenotaph at Central Memorial Park on November 11th to which the Regiment paraded.

Captain Davidson, Adjutant, and soldiers of The Calgary Highlanders on parade on November 11th at the cenotaph.

Calgary Highlanders Ladies Auxiliary now Calgary Highlanders Family Association

From Ottilie Kelly, the President of the Ladies Auxiliary:

We have changed our name to The Calgary Highlanders Family Association.

On 1 November 2009 we are holding a Potluck Brunch for the families of the deploying troops between 1000-1300 hrs in the WO's & SGT's mess.

For the 2010 we will be handing out three scholarships; one $1000.00 and two $500.00 scholarships. The deadline for submissions is March 31, 2010.

The Children's Christmas party is scheduled for 13 December 2009 @ 1300-1500 hrs.

Walcheren Causeway Parade Sunday 25 October 2009

Congratulations to, from left, Major Simon Cox, Major Kyle Clapperton, and Master Warrant Officer Gerald Downey. The reviewing officer was Colonel Thomas E. Putt, MSM, CD commander of 41 Canadian Brigade Group.

Corporal Dave Jaeger

Another update from Corporal Jaeger:

G'Day Mates,

Well I am now in Sydney for the World Master Games after six weeks and over 7000km of traveling throughout Australia.  After arriving at the World Master Games on Friday, it is just like the Olympics with 29,000 other athletes (making it the largest sporting event in the world and the largest Master Games ever) from 95 countries here to compete and Canada is the second largest contingent (and the loudest) of over 2,200 behind Australia.  Last night we had the opening ceremonies in the 2000 Olympic Stadium with all the fanfare of the Olympics where Canada was the loudest again.

Yesterday morning was the first of my events, which was the 10km Road Run Race.  The race was a little disorganised with a delay in the start with 700 runners; all of us had chips but it only records at the finished, so I lost 7 seconds to cross the start line and it was 2km before I could reach full stride passing a lot of runners that I thought were faster than me.  After doing two loops of a 5km course in Olympic Park on the same route as the 2000 Olympic Games, I finished off in the Athletics Stadium with a 45:24.11 in 35th place in my age category out of 65 and 231 overall; which was a slow time for me but with all the traveling and injury and sickness I can't be too mad, and I also heard the course was longer than 10km.

I now have two days off to travel Sydney before my Wednesday Critium Bike Race which is the third of four heats of 20 minutes + 3 laps and I have to place in the top 7 out of 30 to qualify for the final on Sunday of 40 minutes + 3 laps.  Then on Thursday is the Individual Time Trial Bike Race on a 9.5km race car track for 19km.  Then on Friday is the 70.4km Road Bike Race with 138 racers in my age class.  Finally on Saturday is the 3km Open Water Swim in Sydney Harbour; and maybe the Critium Final on Sunday.

Well less than a week to go before I fly home, which I will be glad to get back to Canada.

Well I have to go, but I will see you back home in a week mates, have a G'day.

Cpl 'Crazy' Dave Jaeger


Soldiers of the Calgary Highlanders travelled once again to the ranges in Edmonton, this time with soldiers from across 41 Canadian Brigade Group, to continue qualification firing on the C7 rifle and 9mm pistol.

Fashions from Afghanistan are all the rage in some quarters. The electronic range does the hard work that used to be done in the "butts".
Ready... ...Set... ...Go!

The Personal Weapons Test Level 3 is a demanding one, requiring run downs from 400 metres, and shooting from a variety of distances, including close-up full automatic fire.


Sergeant Mark Nussbaumer

Lieutenant Colonel Mike Vernon promotes Mark Nussbaumer to Sergeant at Mewata Armouries on 30 September.


Soldiers of The Calgary Highlanders deployed to Edmonton on the weekend of 11-13 September 2009 for a range shoot. This was a joint exercise with The Loyal Edmonton Regiment (4th Battalion, Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry). Approximately 50 troops from Calgary travelled north for the weekend.  Range practices included:

  • C7 rifle marksmanship practice

  • C7 Personal Weapons Test

  • C9 Light Machine Gun Personal Weapons Test

  • Pistol shoot

  • Shotgun Range (the highlight for many who attended)

Photos and captions by Regimental Sergeant Major Emmett Kelly, click to enlarge

C9 LMG Practice


Corporal Russell checks his earplugs

Corporal Russell on Shotgun

Corporal (Y) is Assistant Range Safety Officer

Corporal Waye on shotgun

Lieutenant Matthews and Sergeant Klein brief a relay

Master Corporal Hutchison conducts Tests of Elementary Training (TOETs) on the 9mm pistol

Regimental Quarter Master Sergeant, Warrant Officer Fedoruk, with shotgun in Anti-Aircraft position

Company Sergeant Major, Warrant Officer MacDonald, dispensing wisdom

Lieutenant Colonel Vernon and Corporal Savage do shotgun TOETs

Warrant Officer Tucker supervises shotgun TOETs

Calgary Highlanders Ladies Auxiliary Leadership Positions

Mrs. Ottilie Kelly has accepted the position of President of the Ladies Auxiliary, and Darlene Deguzman-Tucker has taken over as the Vice President. The Auxiliary is pleased to announce that the kitchen outside the Warrant Officers & Sergeants' Mess will be reopening for parade nights on 9 September 2009.

Regimental Pipes and Drums

As is normal for the Labour Day weekend, the Regimental Pipes and Drums competed in back to back competitions. On Saturday, 5 September, the band played in the Medley Competition at the Calgary Highland Games, placing second in their grade. On Sunday, 6 September, they competed in the Grade III March, Strathspey & Reel competition at the Canmore Highland Games, finishing second in a field of four. They were also rated top band of all grades in the Dress and Deportment category in Canmore.

Photos courtesy Captain Peter Boyle

Corporal Dave Jaeger

Master Corporal Avelino passes on the following correspondence from a Calgary Highlander Down Under. Corporal Dave Jaeger is competing in 8 international races: Kangaroo Hoppet (Race #1 of the World Loppet Series) August 29th, ITU World Aquathlon Championships September 9th, ITU World Triathlon Championships September 12th, World Master Games October 10th-18th (10K Running Road Race, Individual Time Trial Bike Race, Critium Bike Race, Road Bike Race, and Open Water Swimming Race).

G'Day Mates,

It has been about a week here in Australia now and I am still suffering a bit of jet lag (falling asleep at 8:00pm and waking up at 5:00am).  I spent a four days at a resort in Yarrawonga, which had an excellent training facility for only $199AU for the whole week since it is winter and it is mainly a summer resort like Sylvan Lake.  Then moved to South Tawonga to be close to my cross-country ski race a couple days ago.

My cross-country ski race was interesting to say the least.  I came out to the Falls Creek ski resort on Wednesday to practice skiing after a 6 month absence and ski the course, but it was -3C with fog and blowing snow at 50km/hr, so I spent most of the time socializing with some other Canadians and Norwegians and Aussies.  On race Saturday's race day it was even worse with +5C, heavy fog, and rain (first in 19 years race); so I started the race good in the second line behind the pros, but the snow was hard to ski on from the rain and zero visibility losing sight of skiers 50 meters ahead, so you can't tuck the downhill because you do not know where you are going.  But I finished the race with the time of 1:30:05.1 for 25km (changed from 42 to 31 to 21 to 25, because of the changing conditions in the past couple days), and finished 5th out of 39 in my age class (Men 40-44) and of course Aussies that beat me and the other internationals since they knew the course and have skied in the past 6 months, and I finished 84th overall out of about 800.

Well one race down seven to go, I am off to the Gold Coast to compete at the ITU World Aquathlon and Triathlon Championships.

Have a G'Day Mates, and talk to you next time,

Dave Jaeger

Corporal Jaeger tells Master Corporal Avelino: "I have just finished packing today for my big trip, which includes my two bikes, Nordic skis, and all the equipment that goes along with it for all my races (see photo, believe it or not all this can fit in my car)." Photo courtesy Corporal Dave Jaeger

Summer Training Graduations

Commanding Officer Lieutenant Colonel Mike Vernon and Regimental Sergeant Major Emmett Kelly have returned from the Western Area Training Centre at Wainwright where several Calgary Highlanders have graduated from summer courses.

Basic Infantry Qualification Course Serial 0234 produced three soldiers qualified in the infantry trade (over the course of the summer, 18 Calgary Highlanders have become BIQ qualified). Congratulations to Private Vitug (formerly Corporal Vitug who served in the Regiment previously), Private Russell and Private Wilson, the latter of whom also claimed Top Shot honours for the course. The summer has also seen five soldiers graduate from Soldier Qualification courses; "SQ" is the second half of basic military training.

Two soldiers graduated from PLQ Infantry Serial 0099, newly appointed Master Corporals Hutchinson and Gaisford. Master Corporal McDermott also graduated from his PLQ training this summer.

One junior officer successfully completed his CAP training; congratulations to 2nd Lieutenant Tremblay, who reportedly is fighting fit having shed 30 lbs during the summer's activities.

Last Post
Corporal Dan Bednash

While the Regiment originally received word of the tragic loss of Corporal Bednash in June 2009, his friend George McGeachie, also a former Highlander, has recently favoured the webmaster by assembling the following tribute and photographs; thank you to George for these fitting words and pictures:

It is with deep sadness that we announce the unexpected passing of Corporal Daniel Keith Bednash, who was born December 16, 1975, and passed away suddenly June 5, 2009. Dan grew up and went to school in Brooks and High River, Alberta, where he made many life long friends. He moved to Exshaw, Alberta, in 2005 to further his career with Fortis Alberta. While in Exshaw, Dan met the love of his life, Alexandra Freed, and they were married October 25, 2008. Daniel is survived by his loving wife Alexandra Bednash and their puppy Sequoia, his mother Janice (Robin) Tudor, his father Mickey (Donna) Bednash, his brother Tyler (Rae) Bednash, his nephew Jax Bednash, his grandmother Marjorie Broadfoot, and his uncle Scott Broadfoot. Dan is also survived by Paul and Kathleen Freed, Tannis Clarke and Ralph Brown.

Corporal Dan Bednash was a member of the Calgary Highlanders from 1994-2000. Dan loved the Army and he loved the Regiment. His dedication, work ethic, and positive friendly nature earned him many life long friends within the Regiment and the Brigade. 

Farewell brother. Strength and Honour.

Dan Bednash and his ubiquitous Jeep (above - click to enlarge each)
and on the day of his wedding (below) with several other Highlanders.

Warrant Officer Mike Johnston

Congratulations to Sergeant Mike Johnston, currently attached to Area Standards Detachment Calgary, who has been promoted to Warrant Officer.

CSM Turnbull

Master Warrant Officer Dave Turnbull, CD, will be returning to The Royal Regiment of Canada in Toronto effective 17 August 2009. Arriving in Calgary as a warrant officer in 2002, he is described by his peers as a "solid and reliable member of the NCO corps since then." In his time as a Calgary Highlander, he has performed the duties of Platoon Warrant Officer, Company Quartermaster Sergeant, and Company Sergeant Major. He deployed overseas for a tour of duty in Afghanistan with Task Force 1-08 as a warrant officer. The Regiment wishes MWO Turnbull all the best in his future endeavours as well as congratulations on his recent wedding with his long time partner, Kimberly Corrigan.

Regular Support Staff

Warrant Officer Pat Tower, SMV, CD, after a long period of service as Regular Support Staff to the Regiment, has been posted to the Regimental Museum of his home unit, Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry, effective 27 July 2009. The Calgary Highlanders wish him well in his future endeavours.

DP1 Infantry

Congratulations to the graduates of course DP 1 Infantry 0233, which passed out at the Western Area Training Centre at Wainwright on 31 July 2009.  The course, combining soldiers of both The Calgary Highlanders and The Loyal Edmonton Regiment (4th Battalion, PPCLI), provided fifteen Calgary Highlanders with their initial training in the Infantry trade. Special congratulations go to Calgary Highlanders Private R.J. Cramphorn, the Top Candidate, and Private A.J. Massart, the Top Shot on the course.

Last Post
Corporal Dan Decorby

It is with deep regret that the Regiment reports the loss of Corporal Dan Decorby after a courageous battle with brain cancer on 16 July 2009. Corporal Dan Decorby was a veteran of multiple overseas tours to Afghanistan and the Balkans. The Regiment offers sincere condolences to his family, friends, and comrades, in Calgary, Edmonton and afield.

A funeral service is scheduled for on Wednesday 22 July 09 at 1300 hrs in Edmonton at the Connelly and McKinley Funeral Home. On Tuesday 21 July 2009 there is a viewing from 1900-2100hrs also at the funeral home. 

10011 – 114 Street
Edmonton, Alberta
T5K 1R5, Canada
(780) 422-2222

Update 21 July 2009 - the following is courtesy 3rd Battalion, Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry:

Corporal Decorby was born on 17 July 1974 in Calgary, Alberta and joined the Reserve force in June, 2000, with the Calgary Highlanders. Dan was an outstanding soldier who held himself to a high standard. He deployed on three operational tours of duty including Bosnia in 2003, Afghanistan 2006, and again to Afghanistan in 2008. In January of 2009 Corporal Decorby transferred to the Regular force and joined the 3rd Battalion, Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry, where he was training to deploy on his fourth operational tour to Afghanistan 2011.

He is remembered as a soldier who conducted himself in a professional manner. Soldiers who served with him knew him as a “well of knowledge”. He was the type of soldier who liked to pass his knowledge onto others and always be there when needed. In very short order Dan was slated to be Section second in command and Section commander. Friends who knew him, knew him as a “down to earth guy”. He loved to travel and when he did, he would always pack light taking only what was needed. In addition to his colourful military history, Dan while in the Reserves always wanted to work for a private security company. Prior to the 1-08 tour, he traveled to Africa where he worked as close protection. Friends recall how much Dan would talk about his spouse Brianne while on tour. Dan was praised as a brave soldier and a good fighter. Dan was motivated and always determined to get the job done, he would always have “terrible shin splints” but it would never slow him down.

Corporal Decorby is survived by his spouse, Brianne Lenore Wilson, his father, Keith Decorby, his mother, Jeanette Decorby, and his siblings, Darren Keith Decorby, and Darrel Emile Decorby.

Funeral services and visitation will be held in Connelly McKinley 10011 – 114 Street downtown Edmonton. Visitation will be held on Tuesday, 21 July 2009 between 1900 hours and 2100 hours. Funeral services will be held on Wednesday, 22 July 2009 at 1300 hours. Corporal Decorby will then be interred in the National Military Cemetery at Beechwood, Ottawa.

Task Force Commander's Commendation - Corporal Malone

On Wednesday, 15 July 2009, Lieutenant Colonel J.J. Martin, the Deputy Commander of 41 Canadian Brigade Group, paid The Calgary Highlanders a visit to present Corporal R.W. Malone with a certificate recognizing outstanding service during an incident in Afghanistan. The citation, signed by Lieutenant General Gauthier, read:

On 22 March 2008, the Afghan National Police brought two critically wounded local nationals to one of the gates at Kandahar airfield in Afghanistan in an attempt to get medical attention. Corporal Malone provided the initial on-scene assessment and clear direction to all personnel involved. Cognizant of the significant security threat during this vulnerable period, he maintained vigilant security that enabled the provision of effective first aid outside the gate. Corporal Malone's immediate and decisive actions helped save the life of one of the locals, thereby enhancing Canada's reputation in the region.

Soldiers' Night at Calgary Stampede Rodeo
From Renato Gandia, The Calgary Sun:

With thundering applause, thousands of rodeo watchers hail a special Canadian soldier every night before the cowboys take centre stage. Calgary Highlanders adjutant Captain Andrew Beauchamp, who spent a full tour of duty in Afghanistan, was one of the honourees. Beauchamp's platoon kept Kandahar airfield secure.

"It's good to see hometown support after coming home from Afghanistan in the fall," said Beauchamp, adding being at the rodeo reminded him when he was a young boy riding a chuckwagon.

Canadian Forces spokesman Captain Peter Fuerbringer said it's difficult to pick who will be honoured. "Gosh, everybody is deserving because they're making sacrifices by being away from their families for an extended period." Nominees are not limited to those who had been deployed to Afghanistan. "We choose someone who is really committed to the Forces and shows that burning desire to serve," said Fuerbringer.

Last night's special soldier was Warrant Officer Patrick Tower, a Star of Military Valour recipient, an award second only to the Victoria Cross.

Warrant Officer Tower, attached to the Calgary Highlanders as Regimental Support Staff, received his decoration for bravery under fire in Afghanistan and is a full time soldier of Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry.

A full weekend of training April 17-19 tested soldiers of the Calgary Highlanders, in conjunction with troops of all units in 41 Canadian Brigade Group, in a variety of situations. On Saturday 18 April, a simulated IED explosion required Calgary Highlanders to secure a "marketplace" set up at 41 CBG headquarters. Vehicles of the King's Own Calgary Regiment provided security for the Quick Reaction Force while medics and engineers attended to their tasks. On Sunday 19 April, training moved to the Fire Training Academy for cordon and search activities.

Photos by Lieutenant Colonel Mike Vernon, Commanding Officer

The Calgary Highlanders conducted cordon and search training at British Army Training Unit Suffield (BATUS) on the weekend of 6-8 February 2009. Members of the four Royal Canadian Army Cadet Corps affiliated with The Calgary Highlanders (2137 RCACC in Calgary, 3125 RCACC in Chestermere, 3016 RCACC in Airdrie and 2383 RCACC in Turner Valley) also assisted soldiers of The King's Own Calgary Regiment and 14 (Calgary) Service Battalion during the exercise, pitching arctic tents and playing the role of Afghan villagers during the training.

Photos courtesy LCol Vernon

Missing Letter

Captain Peter Boyle, recently returned from Afghanistan, has helped return a letter sent to a soldier of The Royal Regiment of Canada in 1942. Details of the story were printed in the Toronto Star (photograph at right by Carlos Osorio, Toronto Star):

Captain Boyle has most recently served with The Calgary Highlanders for several years and just returned from a tour of duty in Afghanistan. In addition to his current employment within the regiment he has taken on extra duties planning historical research and commemorative functions to be associated with the centennial events marking the 100th anniversary of the raising of the Highlanders, scheduled for 2010.



Dieppe veteran gets missing letter (by


It was a message from the past, a letter penned 67 years ago by a beloved aunt now gone, mailed three days after the young Canadian soldier was captured at Dieppe and sent to a faraway prison for the most traumatic three years of his life.


Yesterday, that long-lost letter – still sealed – found its way at last to Ron Beal through the kindness of someone who saw it on eBay, where it was being sold for its 1942 stamp. Nearly seven decades ago it had been returned to sender marked "missing," with no hint that Beal had survived the military disaster. But at a ceremony yesterday morning to present him with the letter at the Royal Regiment of Canada's mess at Toronto's Fort York Armoury, the 87-year-old grandfather couldn't bring himself to open the faded envelope. "I'd like to open it in private when I get home; it's very emotional," said the frail veteran, his medals on his chest, surrounded by friends and family at the Armoury's officers' mess. "To hold this letter in my hand feels a little like holding my aunt's hand. She was like a mother to me and I loved her."


It was Capt. Peter Boyle, a former member of Beal's Royal Canadian Regiment who recently returned from Afghanistan, who spotted the letter in November on eBay, at the same time fellow Dieppe buff James Scott also spotted the item. Both men knew of Beal and decided to bid on the letter so they could return it to the veteran. But neither knew about the other, so they ended up in a bidding war that drove the price up until finally Boyle won – at a cost he will not disclose, and for which he will not accept repayment.


"There is no charge; we're all part of the regimental family," he said yesterday to Beal after handing him the envelope postmarked Aug. 22, 1942. "I knew I had to get the letter back to him."


Even unopened, the letter took Beal on a trip through time. He recalled how lucky he felt to have been stationed first in England where he got to meet relatives his father had left behind when he emigrated to Canada in 1908. His father's sister Ivy Cordeaux lived in London with her family and welcomed the young soldier whenever on leave; she would cook up a big "joint" of meat and he would bring extra ration cards in thanks.


Yesterday, Beal held the room spellbound with stories of the humiliation of life at Stalag 8B in Lamsdorf, Germany, where he was tied at the wrist from dawn to dusk for nearly three years, first with rope and then with shackles. "To this day I can't put a watch on my wrist – as soon as I do, my mind says I'm being shackled," said Beal, who carries his watch in his pocket. His son Sidney recalled not all letters were good news from home. "He got a Dear John letter delivered to the prison camp from the girl who was his fiancée."


Beal's wife of 62 years, Marjorie, was with him later yesterday afternoon when he finally decided, six hours after taking hold of the envelope, to pluck up his nerve, pour himself a rum and coke, take a little sip and open it. "It was so wonderful to read her letter – she knew my regiment had been involved in the invasion – and she hoped I was safe and would get back unscathed," said an emotional Beal last night. "To see her handwriting and be reading her letter after she's gone, well, it feels like she's finally here again."

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