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Students in War Time

As we enter the fourth year of the War, it is evident on all sides at the University campus that the student body has taken up the challenge, “Work or Fight.” There is a new spirit in the air, a high seriousness beneath the natural effervescence of youth.

Every male student whose health permits is training with some branch of the armed forces. Some are members of off-campus naval and military reserve organizations; the majority belong to the COTC, the Auxiliary Battalion, or the new University Air Training Corps. Women students are similarly obliged, one hundred percent to perform auxiliary services.

The great cut in the number of senior students in the COTC, caused by enlistments during the summer, and the large Freshman group, answering the Government’s call for technically trained men, create difficult in organization that taxes the ingenuity of the O.C., Lt.-Col. Warren, and his assistants. But an interesting program of drill, map-reading, and tactics has been worked out to occupy the Corps out of doors during the fine fall weather, and lectures are being arranged for the wintry months. This year the indoor rifle range has been restored to the growing equipment of the campus “Army.”

The military organization requires students to take a year of basic training in the Auxiliary Battalion before being selected for the Officers Training Corps. After the second year, all who desire to do so may proceed directly to Gordon Head for the final stages of officer training in the active service. After his two years in the campus military, a student is subject to call-up; and the Government’s “work or fight” policy means that only students who do well in their studies will be permitted to continue with them.

The organization of the UATC under Squadron Leader R. M. Hardy is similar. Alumni will be pleased to learn that the RCAF has posted an alumnus of the University, Flying Officer J. C. Allen, ’33, ’37, to act as adjutant to the new unit. The first year, as in the Army, is devoted to basic training and such studies as elementary Navigation. The second year takes the prospective air crew well on their way toward active service. It is proposed that just as the Army receives COTC graduates at Gordon Head, shortening their route toward their first shoulder pips, so the UATC boys will by-pass Manning Pool, Tarmac Duty, and ITS, going straight to Elementary Flying Training Schools.

The training of women students is equally serious. Miss Mabel Patrick and her assistants have worked out a scheme that finds three hours of service a week as a minimum for every girl that is physically fit. St. John’s Ambulance, First Aid, Home Nursing, ARP work, Signalling, Red Cross, clerical work, canteen work, work with precision instruments suggest the variety of service women students are eager to perform; and groups of girls may be seen drilling on the campus during the bright autumn afternoons sometimes with a snap and precision that would warm the cockles of the flintiest old drill sergeant’s heart.

When it is remembered that Pembina, Assiniboia, and Athabasca Halls have been full of Air Force blue for more than a year, that St. Joseph’s has been taken over by the Navy, and that courses in radio and other subjects for various armed forces have been added to professorial loads, it will be realized that the home campus is very much alive these days and that here as elsewhere the sons (and daughters) their fathers got are trying to improve upon the old stock!

Published November 1942.

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