PDF Celebrating Hal Swain attached
The article from Bill Beagan's book, May I wish Hal Swain a Very Happy Birthday. With Happy memories from all the guys who served with him as apprentices, 1 Tpt Coy RCASC and all the other units Well Done .
To-day (13.02.02) marks a very special birthday for the oldest RCASC Soldier Apprentice.
Sgt/Apprentice Harold "Hal" Swain (LCol Retd) was born on February 2, 1936, in Yorkton, Saskatchewan. To-day is Hal's 76th birthday.
Harold spent the first sixteen years of his life in Springside, Saskatchewan, a small village fourteen miles North West of Yorkton. Hal's teenage working experience, during summer school holidays, was as a "swamper" (drivers helper) for the "Atomic Transfer Company", a local trucking business handling groceries and freight between Springside, and Wynyard, SK. Hal commented "manhandling twenty tons, six days a week, tended to make you strong and hungry." Hal also had a stint at farming as a hired hand. Young Hal was only fourteen when he got to drive the tractor. This was short lived however, as only a few days in, he struck a large rock with the ‘binder' (a piece of equipment attached to the tractor designed to ‘bind' the wheat). Desperately attempting to avoid hitting the large rock, young Harold ‘cut hard' the tractor causing the binder to swing at high speed crashing into the rock. That was the end of Hal's tractor driving.
In the fall of 1952, Harold Swain became aware of the RCASC Soldier Apprentice Program. Swain commented "I was becoming a bit bored and restless in a small prairie town, and the newly introduced boy soldier program looked attractive." "Besides," he stated, "it offered trades training, the benefits of room and board, and good pay of $30.00 per month."
Harold Swain was among an estimated twelve (12) ‘Boy Soldiers' who constituted the first intake into the RCASC Soldier Apprentice Program. Swain was enrolled in December, 1952 which he commented was "very fortuitous, and just a step ahead of the law." Among the list of firsts: Harold Swain was the first individual to join the RCASC Soldier Apprentices; the oldest RCASC Soldier Apprentice (2/2/36); the only RCASC Soldier Apprentice to hold the rank of ‘Sgt/Apprentice'; the first RCASC Soldier Apprentice to be ‘Commissioned' (1956); and the first RCASC Soldier Apprentice to be a Platoon Officer of a RCASC Apprentice Training Company Platoon (19 Pl).
Harold Swain's first platoon officer was 2Lt ‘Jock' Shields, who Swain would later serve with in Germany. Captain ‘Bill' Cheek was the Principal of the RCASC ATC School and Mr. Gwynne Timothy and Mr. Fred Buckland were two of the staff teachers. The school room was in an ‘old tar-papered' ‘H hut' near the PMQ's and the Post Office. Swain achieved his ‘Senior Matriculation equivalent' having completed grade ten in Saskatchewan. As a tradesman (Clerk Admin), Swain qualified as a "Clk Adm Gp 1" having achieved the required 25 words per minute on the ‘old Underwood'.
On completion of Harold Swain's apprentice training, he qualified for a Junior NCO Course and was then accepted into the first Officer Candidate Program course (OCP # 1) at Camp Borden, Ontario. The third phase of Swains' officer cadet training was completed in Camp Shilo, where Harold met his ‘Newfoundland bride' (Alma), an Army Nurse, who ‘captured' Harold, "while I was a hospital patient, and has been with me ever since."
Former Sgt/App (LCol Retd) Harold Swain will be one of the guests of honor at a ceremony - ‘Honouring the Legacy' - to mark the 60th Anniversary of the implementation of the RCASC Soldier Apprentice Program. The ceremony will be held at CFB Borden on Thursday, June 13, 2013.
HAPPY 76TH BIRTHDAY OLD FELLOW!
PLEASE Remember our Troops and our Veterans
Nil Sine Labore