Tales from the Crowbar Hotel

by  William O. Larson

How and why was I selected to become the Provost Sergeant for the 2nd Battalion Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry? I will give you some personal history and why I was picked for the job.

I joined the Provost Corps from high school in 1941, in Regina, Saskatchewan, at the age of nineteen. I proceeded overseas to England in November 1941, to Aldershot Command. There, as a corporal, I ran the Security Guard for General McNaughton's Headquarters. By 1944 I was a sergeant in charge of a Provost Section, and was dispatched with my section to France, to the 2nd Armoured Brigade, which consisted of the Fort Garry Horse, 1st Hussars and the Sherbrooke Fusiliers.

After a war injury near Calais, France I regained my section at Breda, Holland and spent a busy winter in Nijmegan as a Provost Sergeant. A difficult situation arose between our R.S.M. and myself one night in the Sergeant's Mess, where I won the battle but, lost the war. (At the cost of three stripes.) I transferred to the 2nd Infantry Division Provost Company, and completed the war as a Provost Special Investigator.

I returned to Canada in 1946, and decided to remain in the Canadian Armed Forces. More Provost training at Camp Borden, Ontario, where my investigation training came in handy in a manslaughter case.

I was stationed in Calgary, when I was recommended for the Special Investigators Position at H.Q. Western Command, Edmonton, Alberta (1948-50). In the meantime the Korean War had broken out and a Canadian Brigade had been committed. I was ordered to go to Fort Lewis in Washington, USA, as Provost Sergeant in charge of a section, awaiting the incoming Canadian troops. At this time a message arrived from Ottawa, requesting a Provost Sergeant for the 2nd Battalion Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry. Several sergeants submitted their names, so I thought it was only right that I should also volunteer. I thought with all those young, single Provost Sergeants across Canada, what chance would an old veteran sergeant like me have.

Return telegram: "Larson, you have forty-eight hours to say good-bye to your family. Get your inoculations, etc., in order. Join the Patricias, as they are leaving for Korea." This would be my first duty with the Regiment. We prepared to sail.

"I knew no one and no one knew me, this would be a case of love or hate at first sight."

* * *

On November 25, 1950, the 2nd Battalion Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry set sail from Seattle, Washington, with 927 officers and men. Our destination was no secret, we were heading for Korea, under the auspices of the United Nations, to fight a war. Before the American troopship, USNS Private Joe P. Martinez left Seattle, the battalion was lined up for the usual pay parade. Every soldier received a token payment as they signed the Paymaster Acquittance Roll.

There was absolutely nothing on board that old J.P. Martinez to spend your money on: Idle soldiers soon find time heavy on their hands, and low and behold, many sets of dice suddenly appeared. Crap games soon sprung up at numerous locations, and money was changing hands very rapidly.

Old crap sayings became loud as the games progressed. "Shoot -Your covered." "Snake - Eyes." "Box - Cars."

"Seven - Come Eleven." "Craps," Etc. The day progressed into night, and the games still had a few of the "high rollers," with their hands full of bills, down on the blanket, "shooting the works."

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