Researching The Royal Canadian Regiment

Exercise READY NOW

or "How I learned to stop worrying and love the Airborne"

The Connecting File, 1974

Capt A: (looking out the porthole in the Hercules at the Yukon bush) "What a marvelous country! Look at those mountains and streams! Reminds me of the Central Ural Mountains."
MCpl B: "When were you there Sir?"
Capt A: "Oh, I've never been there. Have you?"
MCpl B: "No Sir."

With these inspiring words, the aircraft circled Whitehorse Airport twice and squatted gracefully on the tarmac. Recce Platoon had arrived in the Yukon.

Exercise READY NOW III took place in the Yukon Territories about fifty miles south of Whitehorse during the period 11-25 May 74. The Recce and Pioneer Platoons from 1st Battalion teamed up with Recce Platoon from 3rd Battalion to form a guerrilla company to operate as an enemy force against 2 Commando Airborne Regiment.

Under WO Buchanan's direction, the Platoon spent 12 May 74 placing ration caches in the anticipated area of operations. Each cache was distinctly marked and everybody was briefed on the locations. "On a bearing of 2136 mils from the Campbell's soup can go 113 1/4 paces and underneath a pile of brushwood you will find a can of luncheon meat." While this was going on, Lt Holt and the detachment commanders went on a never-to-be-forgotten flight in an Otter to recce the terrain. The uncertain weather, the age of the aircraft, the youthfulness of the pilot and the condition of the recce party ensured a thorough and detailed recce. Several members in fact experienced a sudden conversion to Christianity. ... Please God. ..if we land soon I'll ...

On 13 May 74 a suitably chastened platoon trekked into the bush to await the Airborne. The majority of the platoon was together watching an Airborne Observation Post on the mountain, although two detachments were employed some distance away. Sgt Bale and his detachment established an Observation Post on a hill directly behind Carcross and the Airborne Headquarters, while Sgt Mason established a layback twenty-five miles away and attempted to organize a partisan net from local civilians.

The first contact was made on 16 May 74 when Sgt Leaman became involved in a running fight with an Airborne platoon. At the same time a platoon from 2 Commando established a patrol base fifty feet from a detachment commanded by MCpl Squires. This platoon's in and out route ran right beside the detachment's bivouac area. "Squid" and his detachment spent an uncomfortable three days in this precarious posture before they were able to get away.

On 17 May 74 the platoon attempted a breakout. WO Buchanan and his detachment went through the cordon first in case of an ambush with Platoon Headquarters following once the route was secured. Unfortunately Platoon Headquarters was put in the bag by an irate Airborne platoon sent to investigate the noises made by WO Buchanan. These conflicts were observed with great glee by Sgt Bale who was manning the Observation Post above Carcross. Friendly partisans visited Sgt Bale daily to bring the news. …"Platoon Headquarters is in the hoosegow." The next day Sgt Bale forgot his normal caution and gave a correct location state over the air. He and his detachment were promptly nabbed. Cpl McCarthy was wrongly identified by an over zealous Airborne Platoon as the Company Commander, and spent an anxious five minutes attempting to identify himself. Sgt Leaman and Cpl Menchenton managed to evade the cordon but missed a ration cache. They spent three days trying to exist on a well balanced and nourishing diet of Arctic Cake Supplement of one flavour. Shortly after this, occurred the "Great Train Robbery". Five "ex-prisoners of war" stopped a Northbound train on the White Pass and Yukon Railway and rode about twenty miles up the line before getting off. It was truly a memorable feeling to sit in a plush bar car and placidly watch alert and vigilant Airborne Patrols and Observation Posts flash by. Unfortunately the conductor chose to halt the train in the centre of an Airborne company position and this shattered a wonderful rapport with the White Pass and Yukon Railway. MCpl Reynolds and Pte Gauthier managed to escape and walked forty miles North to Whitehorse. They were credited by the umpires with the destruction of a large part of the airhead.

On 23 May 74, the platoon hijacked a vehicle from the Airborne. This was accomplished by putting a member of the platoon by the edge of the road with a shell dressing around his arm. Some kind hearted soul from the Airborne stopped to render aid to the distressed and was promptly removed from the vehicle and trussed up. The vehicle thus obtained was used to remove two roadblocks and one Major who attempted to stop the truck in police fashion by standing in the centre of the road holding up his hand.

The following day, Exercise Cease Fire was called and the platoon departed that day for Petawawa and the Spring concentration. Exercise READY NOW III was judged to be a success from the platoon viewpoint and hopefully was worthwhile for the Airborne.

Pro Patria

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