Back in Camp

After being away, the hardships of Petawawa must have struck Percy hard. The perspective of sixty-odd years did not soften the memory for Archie Wills of the 58th Battery CFA, who was there at the same time as Percy:

5a Looking across the Ottawa River

“From Victoria we moved by train to a miniature desert in northern Ontario. It was named Petawawa and, owing to its remoteness, could be used for actual firing. Three months there cured all of us from ever wanting to live in sandy zones, even if lapped by warm waters. We had sand in everything. Thunderstorms dumped water on us in inches. Black flies and mosquitoes bit and stung us out of shape. We slept on the hard sand with on a ground sheet and two blankets. The horses were a headache, suffering from the heat, wet and insects as badly as we did. The food was a constant source of complaint. One orderly officer, when faced with a series of complaints, lectured us on the theory of ‘auto-suggestion’. He told us to imagine the food was good. It’s too bad army regulations do not permit the early extermination of that kind of fool. The best thing about the place were the blue berries, but the cooks had no recipes for making pies.” (1)

(1) Wills, Archie. All in a Lifetime. Vol. 6: 10. Typescript autobiography written in the 1970s. Copyright the University of Victoria.

The photograph is from Percy’s large album. I am pretty sure that Percy is in the middle, though no one is identified here as on most of the album pages.

Copyright 2016. See “More about this project.”

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