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I Was There:

Esprit de Corps Canadian Military
Volume 11, Issue 2, January 2004
I Was There
Quartermaster's war no bed of roses
By Les Peate, Assistant Editor

This book could well be sub titled " the extraordinary story of an ordinary man"; its author makes no claim to specific fame. He describes the arduous road to success, through the years of the Depression in two lands and wartime service with the Regina Rifles.

Frank Proctor, while typical of his age and social class group, has an amazing talent for recalling his experiences from early childhood in Durham, England, to his final retirement after establishing a successful business in Canada's west. He displays an excellent faculty of recollection with a style. Having served for several years with "Geordies", I can empathize with his hardships - during the harsh Depression days in England after the First World War, his experiences after making the decision to come to Canada under a farm-worker program, and the hard life on the Prairies. His recollections present an excellent social history of that era.

In 1939 he quickly rallied to the Colours, and his ability brought him rapid promotion to regimental quartermaster sergeant (RQMS) of the Regina Rifles. The latter half of the book deals with his experiences in Canada and northwest Europe with the "Johns". l was impressed his account of the gradual transition from virtual chaos to what was, by D-Day a well organized and smooth running QM operation.

Many war memoirs tend to deal with either high strategy experiences or front-line soldiers. The vital role of the members of "A" and "B" Echelons is often overlooked. While Proctor perhaps lived a little more comfortably than the rifle platoons in their foxholes, his life was no bed of roses, and he shared many of the hazards encountered by the sharp-end troops.

As an infantryman. I especially appreciate one paragraph from RQMS Proctor's work:

"So it was the foot soldier who had to occupy, and it was he who wrested the land from the foe, or lost it. It was he who met the adversaries face-to-face, and it was he who captured prisoners. It was he who had to deal with snipers, land mines and weather. Most others had a bed when they returned to base... The foot soldier had a slit trench and never knew where that would be."

This is an appropriate book for Normandy veterans in this, their special year. Cliff Chadderton, a Rifleman himself, would love it! The book concludes with Proctor's return, his establishment of a successful business and distinguished community service. It is well written and I highly recommend it to military history buffs and biography readers alike. Sadly, Frank passed away some time ago.


I Was There how to order I was there

Frank Proctor

Edited by
William N Tindall & Pamela Proctor

Published by tmi Publications, Gibsons, British Columbia, Canada

email: tmi Publications

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