I stumbled across some photos of the band from the History of the Vernon, Army Cadet, website. The band stayed in Vernon, British Columbia, Canada, for approximately a week, in the summer of 1984. I’ve since discovered Camp Vernon, where we were barracked, has been one of the most important Canadian, Army Cadet Summer Training Centres (ACSTC) since 1949.
I don’t remember too much about our official engagements but vividly remember off duty time because it was predominantly spent lounging around the shore of Lake Okanagan. Some 50 kilometers separate Vernon from the town of Kelowna, both situated on the lake and the area is probably the most spectacular I have ever experienced. The sky was big and blue, the rolling foothills of the Rockies surrounded us, the air was fresh and clean and the lake, enormous, was edged with yellow sand. It was truly idyllic! At some point we took part in a parade in Camp Vernon and we also played in the Kelowna Regatta. I remember mornings spent lazing under shady trees in a nearby park and a radio interview I took part in with Mick Henderson, for Okanagan Radio. I distinctly remember the interview, in the back of a mobile radio van on the edge of Lake Okanagan, because I made some reference to the crappy piccolo I was having to play. It really did have an elastic band on it to force a key to work and the plating had all worn off. It was a total relic, badly out of tune, leaky and a couple of keys, certainly the f sharp key, didn’t work. Shortly after our return to Osnabruck, Mick decided to buy me a new one.
I remember our barracks, large, wooden billets and I think we shared rooms with some of the cadets but I think NCO’s had their own rooms. The SNCO’s were probably in the mess. It was a busy camp and the mess hall had to operate shifts to feed the hundreds of cadets but the food was good. The ‘parade’ square was enormous and both on it and around the edges were cadres of students practicing drill, often with a chant, being shouted across an adjacent assault course or learning various other field skills.
On parade, we wore ‘whites’ with flat caps rather than helmets and I remember they couldn’t get me a jacket my size so I had to wear a chef’s jacket that wasn’t quite long enough and had a slightly strange collar. Martin Doughy dubbed me the ‘Barbecue Major’ ( I was a corporal at the time).
I think we went to Vernon because of some connection with Fort Garry Horse though they are based in Winnipeg. However, I am not sure!
I discovered the photos: here.
© 努江虎 – 노강호 2014 Creative Commons Licence.
I have special memories of winters in Osnabrück. I think these photos must have been taken around 1978 because Dave Smith and I went to Kneller Hall in 1979 and Andy Coombs had transferred to another band by the time we returned.
Osnabrück winters were severe with heavy snow appearing usually at about the same time we were playing in the Hallemünsterland show, which was every December. The snow hung around for months and I clearly remember chunks of compacted snow, the remnants of that which had been swept to the side of pavements, loitering into early April.
Then, there were odd occasions when the finest drizzle fell onto the freezing ground and everything was glazed in a fine sheet of black ice. I only remember this kind of weather twice over a 10 year period but it was memorable because for several hours everything was suspended; all traffic stopped and the pavements were so treacherous that even walking a short distance was dangerous.
There were a numbers of photos taken at the same time as the two I have added here, the others included Knocker Patterson, Bones and Mick Pickering.
Both photos are intensely familiar to such a point I can almost feel the nip of a Wesphalian winter and smell dinner as its aroma drifts from the nearby cookhouse. In the photo above, to the left of Phil Watson’s head, are the birch trees around which I practiced taekwondo over 7 years.
Silver Birch trees were so prolific in northern Germany, they covered Imphal Barracks and I remember an enormous, somewhat desolate forest of silver birch surrounding Bergen-Belsen. In autumn and spring, Amanita Muscaria mushrooms, which grow in a symbiotic relationship with silver birch, would spring up around them. In spring, the Catkins, laden with pollen, were a great source of irritation for Mick Henderson and on a blowy afternoon, I recall watching the trees around the Regimental Square swing and sway in the wind agitating a cloud of yellow pollen.
© 林東哲 2011 Creative Commons Licence.