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
WE WERE FRIENDS – YOU KNOW?
(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.
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
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.
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
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?