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I Was There:

The Legion Magazine, January/February 2001

From "Between Ourselves" by Douglas Fisher

Few pleasures are more satisfying to me as an inveterate reader than coming upon new autobiographies by soldiers, sailors, and airmen. May I recommend two splendid new ones, written by men of high artistic bent, and completed long after their retirement from gainful work.

The first is by a former Regina Rifle, Frank Proctor, late of Mission, B.C., who died last spring at 98, just before his book was printed. "I Was There: An Autobiography" is the title of the Proctor book. It was edited William Tindall and Pamela Proctor, and published by tmi Publications at Gibsons, B.C.

Frank Proctor first came to Canada to try his hand as a grain harvester on the prairies in the 1920's. He had grown up in the coal-mining communities in north-east England, and throughout his life he kept in touch back home even as he made his way, first in Saskatchewan and after the war in B.C. This is a life story, not just a war story, and when I finished it I thought "What a vigorous, able, gifted and modest guy." His central chapters on WWII have unique information and insights because of his tasks throughout the long years of training and the months of combat of this 7th Brigade, 3rd Division infantry battalion.

Frank Proctor enlisted in September 1939, and was put to work at the army depot in Regina, there beginning his rise as a quartermaster non-commissioned officer. Almost from week one in the recruitment of the Regina Rifles he became the regiment's No.2 warrant officer and continued as such the rest of the way. In his clear, homey accounts of the demands and crises Proctor gives us the story of a regiment through vital but seldom recalled functions of supply and services - the provision of food, water, clothes, laundry, baths, petrol, ammunition, mail, etc. Like all our infantry regiments, the Reginas had a long travail of battle with much to show for it in achievement, and unhappily in killed and wounded. Before the Canadians were across the Seine the regiment had to have more reinforcements than its establishment at full strength.

Throughout "I Was There" the Proctor family story goes on, including steady contributions to church and Legion activities, and the development of artistic talent into achieving much success as a painter. Not surprisingly Frank Proctor was much cherished by his family, and its members were determined to publish his story and get it distributed, and I compliment them. What a rewarding life, in particular for others.


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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