1980 Exchanges

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1980 CFE Flyover

In the 1970s and 1980s, Canada's presence in West Germany included a mechanized brigade group; NATO forces in West Germany were numerous and active, training to defend western Europe against an anticipated invasion by the Warsaw Pact, headed by the Red Army of the Soviet Union. Canada's brigade in Europe was the largest, most highly trained and best equipped military force ever fielded by Canada in peacetime.

In 1980, Sheldon Clare was a 17 year old cadet serving with 2618 Corps (Rocky Mountain Rangers). CFE (Canadian Forces Europe) was, in Sheldon's words:

a plum course for cadets who were selected on the basis of high standing in their province on the "Gold Star" exams. The cadets were treated as full members (soldiers) of the regular infantry section that they were posted in. In my case I was in the first section of 2 Platoon, Mike Company, 3RCR which was call-signed as 12A. We were just like the rest of the guys and pulled all the same duties, good, bad and otherwise as anyone else. In my case, my youthful enthusiasm led to me volunteering to be the Carl Gustav gunner for our section, so sometimes I got to do some of the anti-armour ambush work with my number two. I see in my picture that my sewing leaves a bit to be desired as my flag is well on its way to coming off!

There was always a lot of talk about the "balloon going up' and the threat briefings that we all attended on Warsaw PACT and NATO forces certainly encouraged that sort of chatter. As the song says in those days "... our arms were heavy and our bellies were tight!"

84mm Carl G anti-tank missile launcher (Simon Moussa)

 

Simon Moussa and Jim Tuttle on the .50 cal HMG (Simon Moussa)

 

Heidelberg (Simon Moussa)

 

 Armoured Fall EX (Simon Moussa)

 

Demerchant & patrol (Simon Moussa)

 

Moussa on patrol (Simon Moussa)

 

Vosse, Germany patrol (Simon Moussa)

 

(Simon Moussa)

 

Going home aboard CF Boeing 707 (Simon Moussa)

 

 

 

In the 1970s and 1980s, Canada's presence in West Germany included a mechanized brigade group; NATO forces in West Germany were numerous and active, training to defend western Europe against an anticipated invasion by the Warsaw Pact, headed by the Red Army of the Soviet Union. Canada's brigade in Europe was the largest, most highly trained and best equipped military force ever fielded by Canada in peacetime.

In 1980, Sheldon Clare was a 17 year old cadet serving with 2618 Corps (Rocky Mountain Rangers). CFE (Canadian Forces Europe) was a plum course for cadets who were selected on the basis of high standing in their province on the "Gold Star" exams. The cadets were treated as full members (private soldiers) of the regular army infantry section that they were posted in. Sheldon was assigned with other cadets Craig Betts and Cole McCubbin, and militia corporal Jim Fancy to the first section of 2 Platoon, Mike Company, 3RCR which was call-signed as 12A. We were just like the rest of the guys and pulled all the same duties, good, bad, and otherwise the same as anyone else. Sheldon’s enthusiasm led to him volunteering to be the Carl Gustav gunner for the section, so he sometimes got to do some of the anti-armour ambush work with the number two.

The organization for 1 section, 2 platoon, Mike Company, 3RCR for the 1980 Reforger Exercises looked like this:

    • Section Commander Sergeant – FN rifle MacPherson (regular)

    • Section 2iC Master Corporal – FN Rifle Courtemanche (regular)

    • Driver for M113 – SMG Schneider (regular)

    • C2 Gunner Ezekiel (regular)

    • C2 Gunner Burns (regular)

    • Carl Gustav 84mm MAW No. 1 Gunner – MAW and FN Rifle Clare (cadet)

    • Carl Gustav No. 2 – FN and Rockets Fancy (militia)

    • Rifleman – FN Rifle Betts (cadet)

    • Rifleman – FN Rifle McCubbin (cadet)

    • Rifleman– FN Rifle Deware (regular)

This and other sections were augmented with cadets and reservists for the REFORGER fall exercises. The usual drill was that the section commander would command the rifle section and the 2 i/c would command the C2 Group. Sometimes the Carl G team would act as riflemen depending on the tactical situation. We only dismounted the fifty in defence and humping it about made one glad to usually be carrying the Carl G. When the section was doing something dismounted, the driver and one other soldier would stay with the track to act as air, gas, and sagger watch, and help the driver with maintenance as well as provide fire support if needed.

 

3RCR did a lot of NBCW training with gas in the field that summer – the old hands said that this was a new thing to be doing the gas training outdoors there. This was probably due to the rise of the Solidarity movement in Poland at the time and the concern about a possible Soviet response. The driver would trade the SMG when needed for patrols, or when he pulled sentry duty and needed to use a rifle, but usually the SMG sat in oily rags under the driver's seat.

The platoon commander also had a light mortar and a GPMG with his track. While the mortar was not often deployed, the GPMG was used frequently – probably because we had no blanks or BFAs for the M2 HMG, and thus the GPMG was noisier (and easier to lug around dismounted).

In terms of tactics, the section commander and a designated fifty gunner often had to do a switcheroo when we were coming in on mounted assault. (This once involved ripping up a field of cabbages - on one night attack the cabbages were thumping the side of the track so hard that we all thought we were under small arms fire! - Everyone felt pretty foolish when we bailed out and fell on our faces in the cabbages.)It was a bit of a concern as there would be a pause in the firepower from the fifty during a critical time while the switch was made. Apparently the rationale was that the section commander needed to see the objective until the last possible moment. We tried some other techniques, such as having the Section Commander observing from the cargo hatch with the gunner in place in the commander’s cupola, and with the section commander serving as gunner with the 2iC commanding the assault. There was often some confusion with the radio head set. Anyway, there was certainly lots of cross-training going on.

 

 

Sheldon Clare Flyover Army cadet attached to 3rd Battalion Royal Canadian Regiment and later Captain in the CIL, army reserve.

 

 

(L) Cpl Jim Fancy, (R) Pte. Sheldon Clare, August 1980. Fancy was a militia corporal in the Hastings and Prince Edward Regiment and Clare was an army cadet from 2618 RMRangers. S. Clare photo

 

Leopard Tank, "C" Squadron, RCD Hohenfels August 1980. S.Clare photo

 

Mike Company, 2 Platoon M113s. Hohenfels, West Germany, August 1980. S. Clare Photo

 

12A preparing for exercises at Hohenfels, West Germany, August 1980. In the centre

M113 is L-R MCpl Courtemanche, Sgt. McPherson, and Cpl. Schneider driving. S. Clare photo.

 

Beaver and Manview vehicles parked in leaguer with Leopard tank in background.

Hohenfels, West Germany, August 1980. S. Clare photo

 

Canadian Lynx reconnaissance vehicle with new paint; Hohenfels

base barracks in background. West Germany, August 1980. S. Clare photo.

 

 

12A (2 Pl, M Coy, 3RCR) at training area in Hohenfels, West Germany. Pte Deware

and WO Lefavre. August 1980. S. Clare photo.

 

 

 

This card (front and back above) was issued to keep us alert as to

Soviet observers watching our activities. S. Clare collection.

 

3RCR in Hohenfels (Sheldon Clare)

 

Oops! wrong way, everyone back up! (Sheldon Clare)

 

Back from the line in state (Sheldon Clare)

 

/Baden Baden - Clare with 12A and 12B ready to head for Hohenfels (Sheldon Clare)

 

Canada's Tanks Hohenfels (Sheldon Clare)

 

Clare in quarters in Baden Baden (Sheldon Clare)

 

Craig Betts on Ramp (Sheldon Clare)

 

Daily routine (Sheldon Clare)

 

No one will believe this back home! (Sheldon Clare)

 

Sheldon Clare Hohenfels (Sheldon Clare)

 

WO Lefave(sp) and Sgt MacPherson Hohenfels 1980 (Sheldon Clare)