ABOUT THE AUTHOR – 5472 James Colbeck, RMC 1962:

A graduate of the Royal Military College of Canada in Kingston, Ontario in 1962, James served with both  the 1st and 2nd Battalions of the Royal Canadian Regiment in London, Ontario and with the NATO Brigade in Germany. Trained as a parachutist, he was seconded to study with the U.S. Special Forces at Fort Bragg, N.C. where he trained in both guerilla and psychological warfare.

Inspired by my father Major Lloyd H. Colbeck (who served in WW II) and my best buddy from RMC (Class of ’62) and 1 RCR, Captain Roy Lampard


(formerly of the Royal Canadian Regiment)

First Read for Remembrance Day Observances, 1988

Yarmouth County, N.S.

(November 10th, 1988)


We were friends…                                                                Always a smile

Since we were small,                                                          For each of us

Back there, on our farms,                                                   Each day as we marched

Out on the fourth                                                                  Into class

And fifth                                                                                 In single file,

Concessions.                                                                       Rain or shine,

Snow or fog.

Our dads have been friends,                                             We knew our place;

Like us,                                                                                  We had a routine

All their lives,                                                                        Which she – Miss Simms –

And like us                                                                            Had schooled us in.

Went to the same                                                                 Not like any

One-room school                                                                 Sergeant-Major,

With the same                                                                       Mind you,

Teacher:                                                                                But more mother-like,

Miss Simms.                                                                          Like in a big family.

And we paid attention

Miss Simms is a                                                                   To it.

Special woman;                                                                    We tried hard

Always was, I guess,                                                           To be

‘Cause dad sure                                                                   Good

Liked her –                                                                             For her.

Liked her a lot.

Well, anyway…

She was good to us boys,                                                  Tad – well…he tried

But not just us;                                                                     Especially hard.

She was good to the girls, too…                                        His mom had died

You know?…                                                                         When he was born

There on the farm.

That was some hard winter,                                               We’d fish, and

My dad had told me –                                                           Play ball, and

Bitter cold –                                                                            Help our dads

And no one had much                                                        With chores;

Of anything.                                                                          And my mom

Always –

My mom told me                                                                   Always –

Tad’s mom hadn’t had                                                        Had a

Much to eat                                                                           Fresh berry pie

So her health wasn’t                                                           Of some kind.


Considering the condition                                                  We went to the

She was in,                                                                           County school

And her with a baby                                                            Together,

Coming.                                                                                 Tad and me.

Same grade,

Tad –                                                                                       Same teachers.

He looked on                                                                       And we played

Miss Simms                                                                           On the school

Like a mom,                                                                           Soccer team.

We figured –                                                                          Kids kidded us

The mom he never                                                              That we were more

Knew.                                                                                     Like brothers

And she didn’t seem                                                            Than friends…

To mind.                                                                                But there’s a difference.

It was good

At the school.                                                                        When we heard about

The war,

And it was good, too,                                                           We went together

When we’d get out                                                               To enlist.

For holidays:                                                                         You’re right! –

Didn’t we end up

In the same Regiment                                             One minute we were standing , shoulder to shoulder

The same battalion…                                               In our trench,

The same platoon.                                                   Looking out across the mud,

We tried not to                                                          Looking for a target.

Make a big thing                                                      There wasn’t a sound

About it –                                                                    Anywhere

You know!                                                                 Really –

It was dawn,

The ship we boarded                                               With a bit of mist….

In Halifax                                                                   And we’d been up

Was packed,                                                             For a couple of hours

And I mean packed.                                               Standing watch.

But it wasn’t long

Before we were                                                        Then a single shot…


In the mud,                                                                That’s all.

With lots of other guys –

Here –                                                                         It hurts –

At the front lines                                                       You know?

With the Germans                                                    Tad not being here?

Just over there.                                                        …Hurts more than

If I’d been shot,

I’ve seen lots of guys                                              I think…


Since I got here;                                                       But he is still here,

But I never figured                                                   Isn’t he?

On Tad…                                                                    He’ll always be

No; never….                                                               Here –

It just didn’t                                                               Won’t he?…


To me,                                                                        He was my friend…

I guess.                                                                      You know?






Leave a Comment