A Fond Fare Thee Well to Tex (Elwood) Joyner 1919 – 2010
On 5 November 2010 KRRNY Musketman (retired) Tex Joyner passed away. With the loss of Tex the Regiment has lost its last veteran of the Second World War.
Tex was a proud member of Canada’s armed forces, serving overseas in the RCEME Corps with the 3rd Canadian Infantry division. Continuing with the army after armistice, he remained in Germany during the occupation and later served in Canada. He retired as a major in 1975.
In 1982 Tex took a reduction in rank to musketman and followed his son Allan, joining the old Left Section of the Colonel’s Company. Tex was also one of the first members of the newly formed 2nd Battalion, then badged as Crawford’s Company.
From the very beginning, Tex was an enthusiastic member of the Regiment and his home on Pine Street in Kingston became the drop-in place for local KRRNY members. Discussions of kit, guns, WWII and Kingston history resounded in his kitchen and basement. While Tex welcomed all who dropped by, his wife Hazel (late 2008; camp-follower, retired) enriched the hospitality, providing endless coffee and home-baked treats.
One of Tex’s very first involvements with the Regiment was to make his ancestral home – the Lake family farm – available for a spring tactical. Tex continued to help organize the fall and winter Kingston tacticals through the 1980’s and 1990s. He was always present to man the operational headquarters, stoking the woodstove and serving-up his renowned, homemade chili to warm the returning combatants.
Tex served actively in the ranks as a musketman until the mid 1990s. Even after stepping down from an active role, Tex’s unbounded enthusiasm for history continued. He was ever present in his 2nd Battalion kit at dedication ceremonies, historic events and local flag raisings. In 1983 he was awarded a Bicentennial Medal from the province of Ontario, an award that he considered a group citation for the local KRR members who made many appearances during that important anniversary. In addition to being the volunteer curator of the Princess of Wales Own Regiment Museum for over 10 years, Tex was actively involved in the Cataraqui Archaeological Research Foundation, where he assisted in the identification of artefacts unearthed from military sites in and around Kingston.
On 9 November 2010 Tex was interred beside his wife Hazel at Cataraqui Cemetery in Kingston. Pallbearers included KRRNY Col (retired) Gavin Watt, Captain (2d Bn) Jeff Paine, Captain David Moore & Sjt (retired) Dave Guttridge. Rounding out the honour party were a Brigadier General and a bagpiper from RCEME. Not without significance for Tex is this cemetery’s role in the history of Kingston, where it provides a last resting ground for many of Kingston’s finest, including loyalists who settled in Kingston during the late 1700s, many veterans for both World Wars, and Sir John A Macdonald, Canada’s first prime minister. Tex’s arrival enriches their eternal presence and leaves us with a legacy that enriches the Yorkers.
Farewell Tex. Rest in peace. You are well and fondly remembered.
Capt Jeff Paine
Major Elwood Franklin (Tex) Joyner (Retired) ~ Military Service
Elwood, known universally as Tex, joined the Canadian Army in the summer of 1940 along with his brother, Hubert. Both signed on as trained technicians and were enrolled in the Royal Canadian Ordinance Corps (RCOC). He was trained as an armourer, a repairer of all manner of small arms infantry weapons. He went overseas in early 1942 with the 3rd Canadian Infantry Division where he had been assigned as the unit armourer to the Cameron Highlanders of Ottawa (CH of O), the machine gun battalion of their division. The Camerons were armed with the Vickers medium machine gun and the 4.2 inch mortar. Their task was to fire in support of attacks put in by the division’s infantry brigades.
When the Royal Canadian Electrical Mechanical Engineers (RCEME) were formed in 1944, Tex like all the various trades of the RCOC, became a founding member of the corps. He landed with the CH of O on D plus 4, driving his 15cwt truck ashore from one of the Mullberry Harbours, floating sections of docks, which were only just installed on the beach at Arromanches.
With the 3rd Div he fought his way across France. He was first line maintenance, meaning he lived within a few hundred meters of the front line and moved around the unit to repair, recover and replace any damaged weapons. There are photos and cine film of his Vicker’s guns in action at Carpiquet in June 1944 during the heavy fighting there against the 12th SS “Hitler Youth” division. Their heaviest fighting was during the closing of the Falaise Gap when the regiment suffered several casualties as they deployed their guns over open sights.
At Christmas of 1944 the Cameron’s guns and mortars were dug in on the Dutch border across the Rhine from Germany at Nijmegen. He fondly remembered “adopting” a dutch family during that bitter Christmas.
Tex recalled the fighting in the mud of the Hochwald Forest during the winter of 1944-45 as the most difficult in which they were engaged.
When the war ended he volunteered for the Pacific Force. He was brought back to Canada quickly and was here when the Japanese surrendered in August of 1945.
After the war he served in Canada, and with NATO in Germany in the mid-1950’s. He worked for several years on the Black Brant missile program of Defence Research and Development Canada at Valcartier, Quebec and then took a commission as a first lieutenant in 1967. He retired as a Major at Petawawa in 1975, the Officer Commanding 2 Service Battalion, the main field and base repair workshop for all the combat arms.
Major Allan Joyner
Our family took great comfort from the large memorial wreath sent to us by the KRR. It was displayed in the visitation at the funeral home and beside his casket at his funeral. Afterwards it was taken to Kingsdale Chateau, dad’s home for the last few years. It formed the centre of the display that anchored the service of remembrance by the Second World War men and women who were “on parade” there on November 11th. He loved the regiment dearly and would have been very proud indeed to know that he was in your thoughts.
Most sincere thanks for your kindness from Allan, Michelle, Nora and Grace.
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A number of you will have heard that Colin Gammon died of cancer on November 6. To the vast majority of the membership, Colin’s name is meaningless; however, he played an important part during the early days of the regiment and I’d like to tell a few stories about him as a history lesson.
Colin joined the Colonel’s Company’s left section in August 1980 on the same day as his inseparable, bosom buddy Dick ‘Zulu’ Reeves. Dick still participates in the hobby as a Brant’s Volunteer under Lieutenant Mike Hurley.
The first picture is of Colin, flanked by Ptes Reg James (yes, that Reg James) and Reg’s cousin, Gary Jones, fixing bayonets at the annual Fort York Festival in 1981. For almost a decade, this used to be our kick-off event every year.
In Colin’s time, the regiment was blessed with a number of serving and veteran men from the Regular Forces and the Reserve. They brought a special élan to our unit and helped us forge a very solid reputation amongst the rebels and our fellow Brits. Colin had been a Captain in the Queen’s Own Rifles and had led many detachments on ceremonial occasions, especially at Queen’s Park. During those duties, he had raised and lowered many, many flags, which, as all of you know, is done with a great deal of precision by the military. Colin had learned the peculiarities of folding the Stars and Stripes, which is done entirely differently than Canadian and British flags.
If I remember correctly, our regiment was first asked to raise the Grand Union at “Morning Colours” at Fort Niagara in 1981 and we quickly formed an impromptu Colour Party from the old left section of Sjt Denis Bourget (RCAF officer); L/Cpl Gerry MacMartin (RCN officer) and Pte Colin Gammon. The first pair of photographs captures that event.
This same Colour Party did the honours at the ruins of Fort Haldimand on Carleton Island that year. The troops had fallen a small tree and raised it as an appropriate pole and the Grand Union soon flew over the fort for the first time since 1812. It was a heady business! The next morning, we ‘captured’ a Stars & Stripes and flew it under the Grand Union for most of Sunday, hopefully alarming passing American shipping in the process. When it was time to break camp, we lowered the two flags and the second pair of photographs shows Colin and Gerry correctly folding the Stars & Stripes for return to the owners. Of some interest, this flag had flown over a camp in the Pacific during the Second War.
When our first set of Colours were awarded to the regiment in 1982 at Fort York, we were supported by our first two Honorary Officers, LCol Mrs. Elizabeth Blair, UE – Dominion Genealogist of the UELAC – and Major Judge John R. Matheson UE, RCA (ret’d). On this occasion, Gerry and Colin were the guards to the Colours and Lieutenant Bill Severin, Light Company, and newly-promoted Ensign of the Colonel’s Company, Denis Bourget, received the Colours. Back then, every member was given a rack number which was painted on his accoutrements. In my memory, Colin was the only fellow who took a serious interest in the man (other than Bruce Strader who proudly wore his ancestor’s number) who had originally been issued with that number – Duncan Murchison – and by pure serendipity, this fellow was an ancestor of Judge Matheson.
Our by-now tradition of fielding Colour Parties expanded and soon we were asked to perform the ritual at many venues. The initial three fellows by no means held a monopoly in this role and Sjt. Bob Anglin (Captain 3RCR and NDHQ) and Pte Len Skinner (Major 3NBH and NDHQ) were often called out when needed. One of my proudest memories was when the Brigade of the American Revolution asked us to provide a party to lower the American flag at Sackett’s Harbour. We again put together an ad-hoc party of the available experts and some other sharply-drilled soldiers and the duty was performed with precision and dispatch, including the correct folding of the US national flag. I think the BAR guys were gobsmacked and I ‘swole’ up like a ripe pumpkin. (unfortunately, most of that expertise has been lost and I’m not sure we could pull this off now).
One final memory of Colin Gammon – when the Grenadier Company was founded in September 1982, Colin and his buddy Dick were amongst Reg’s originals. This last photograph is of the Grens, in their fancy stage, in a March Past at Old Fort York in 1983 with Reg as Serjeant, Colin as right marker and his buddy Dick with the eye patch beside him and Grenadier Duff ‘Zufeld’ Steele on Dick’s left.
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Passing of Sjt Bruce Grundy
On Monday, May 3, 2010 the King’s Royal Yorkers lost Grenadier Serjeant Bruce Grundy, a valued member and strong supporter of the hobby. He died as a result of complications arising from treatment in his ongoing battle with cancer. Our sympathies are with Donna and Shannon, also valued members of the Grenadier Company and the Company of Refugees and Followers, who supported him throughout his ordeal. All who followed his struggle over the last few years share admiration for them both. without their love and shared strength, his trials would have been even more unbearable. Those of us who have known the family for a long time are more than aware of the love Bruce had for donna and Shannon, “The wee Moose”. (don’t think of Alces alces, the largest member of the deer family, but rather of Reg referring to her by the common name of Mus musculus, or mouse, with his unique pronunciation.) The name stuck for many years. Bruce always smiled whenever he heard it.
According to regimental records Bruce had a long history in the Royal Yorkers. He was the 118th male to join the regiment when he entered the old Colonel’s Coy on July 30, 1983, and served under our first Serjeant Major, Claus Reuter, in the right section. when Claus left the Yorkers to devote his efforts to the Brunswick light Infantry, Bruce soon followed. He served with the Brunswickers for a few years before returning to the Royal Yorkers in the late 1980’s, at which time he entered the Grenadier Company. By 1991, Bruce had accepted the rank of lance Corporal and a year later was promoted to Corporal. Bruce was a thoroughly devoted Grenadier, and with a handful of like minded individuals, provided the backbone for the company. In recognition of his dedicated service to his company and his unfailing regimental esprit-de-corps, Bruce was promoted to Serjeant in 1998.
Lt. Col. James provided the best possible description of Bruce’s career as a grenadier when he wrote, “In all the years that I knew Bruce he was always smartly turned out and believed that the soldiers under his command should be the same.
Those of us who served with him will remember him for starting the “Adjutant’s Tea”. The NCO’s of the regiment would gather for what usually turned out to be a glass (or maybe two) of a special blend of fortified tea made of white grapes grown near Jerez, Spain. This blend is also known as vino de Jerez, or sherry. while most of us who participated in this ritual for many years have moved on to other roles, perhaps the current crop of NCO’s will reinstitute this practice in Bruce’s honour.
Bruce was also known throughout the hobby for his “Grundy Rounds”. No one ever found out exactly how much powder he poured down his barrel, but whenever Bruce fired independently, comments were made about how crisp the grenadier volleys were or how close the artillery was to the action. Perhaps his true dedication to the regiment was best demonstrated some years ago at Black Creek when he volunteered to be chef for the barbecued steak dinner we all enjoyed at the time. Bruce spent a long time standing in front of the blazing cooking device making sure everyone was served with a slab of beef done to his or her liking. when he was done he complained (which was not at all like Bruce) about feeling as if he had also cooked a rather sensitive bit of anatomy positioned just about the same height as the fire box. He later confirmed the injury (although none of us cared to inspect) and was presented with a large asbestos tile mounted on a cord to be worn around his waist should he ever volunteer for such a duty again. Fortunately for Bruce, donna was a nurse and, as all concerned were informed, knew how to treat such injuries.
Many of the Yorker Command Staff were fortunate to have served with Bruce. Serjeant Grundy had served under Captain Moore (when he was but a corporal, and Bruce a raw recruit in the old right section) and under lt. Col. James (when he led the grenadier company). Currently two captains, myself and Captain Sandford served as corporals under Serjeant Grundy. He has had a great influence in the development of the Regiment as one of the most respected units in the hobby.
Many thanks go to Reverend Neil Young who was Bruce’s family pastor during his trials and to regimental chaplain, Reverend Neil Thomsen, who provided leadership and shared in making the funeral one that was appropriate to both the eighteenth and twenty-first centuries. during the service we learned more of Bruce’s devotion to his family, his abilities and love of curling, and a more recent passion, ringette, that he took up in support of Shannon who is a skilled player.
As Captain Moore noted in his memories of Bruce at the funeral, there are not many men who are fortunate enough to die in bed in the arms of a beautiful woman and it is even more blessed that the woman was his wife. Rest well honoured comrade.
Captain Alex Lawrence
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Many of you will remember Alan Laing, who was a musketman in Duncan’s Coy for many years. We received word this week that Al passed away on July 14, after a valiant battle with cancer. He is survived by his wife Caroline and daughter Danielle, who were both Followers in the regiment, and by his son David, who served as a Yorker drummer.
In more recent times Al was a bass drummer in the Fergus Pipe Band, and became a key organizer of the Annual Fergus Highland Games. He was instrumental in getting the Loyalist Fifes & Drums and the Yorkers into the Friday evening tattoo last summer.
Al was known for his great sense of humour and his easy-going manner, which made him a popular guy in the regiment. He will be missed by all who knew him.
Capt Dave Putnam
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FOUNDING MEMBER, FINN NIELSEN DIED WEDNESDAY, JULY 30, 2008
After a three-year, incredibly hard fought battle with “cancer of everywhere”, Finn succumbed this Wednesday in hospital. His spirits throughout his ordeal were indomitable. His wonderful sense of humour, internal toughness and fatalism never wavered.
Of the Royal Yorkers’ five original members, A/5 Finn is the second to have passed on; he was predeceased by his very close friend, A/3 Tom Dugelby about six years ago. Of course, those “A” rack numbers had real meaning in the early days of the Colonel’s Company – just ask Al Joyner, Peter Johnson or Reg James.
Finn was an amazing character. He emigrated from Denmark as a child and lived in a tiny house with dirt floors in Pottageville, very close to present day, Schloss McGeachie. He had a remarkable capability to learn and his capability with English, spelling and use of punctuation, would put a great many Canadian-born individuals to shame. He was a voracious reader, especially of military history. It is often claimed that this guy or that guy, has an encyclopedic memory. Well, it was true of Finn when details about late 19th, 20th and 21st Century small arms were concerned. He simply could not be stumped.
When Finn finished High School, he worked for a time in a nursery, but that was far too calm for an adventurous Viking like Nielsen, so he joined the 2nd battalion, Canadian Guards (known by some as the Canadian SS, as there were so many German veterans in the battalion.) He saw service in Cyprus as a Lance Corporal on a light machine gun (C2-A1 for you gun nuts) and lost his stripe when he wanted his section leader to get out of the way so he could cut down some arrogant Cypriot who was waving a Sten gun at them.
Finn got out of the army when the Guards were disbanded. He was incredulous that the government could be so stupid as to reduce an elite formation. For those of us who follow military affairs, our governments are unfortunately very good at doing stupid things with the Armed Forces.
When Finn went to an employment agency, he was greeted with open arms, as so many soldiers are equipped with skilled trades they learned in the army that they can peddle for a big buck, but, when asked what his trade was, he said “machine gunner”, which oddly enough didn’t impress the interviewer. So, like so many retired soldiers, Finn entered the Toronto Police service; however, the BS discipline got him down. In his opinion, it was worse than the Guards, and to no purpose. So, he left the Police and got hired on as a Firearms’ Examiner at the Ontario Centre of Forensic Sciences and, that’s how Service Rifle got to know him, as Ed Anderson was in the same department. Yes, that’s A/2 Ed Anderson, another founding member of the Yorkers.
Finn joined Service Rifle about 1967 as that organization’s 17th member. When the Royal Yorkers were being formed in 1974, Finn bought in. The KRR made its first appearance in 1975 and the first photograph shows handsome Finn at Quebec City on October 4 for the 200th anniversary of the failed rebel attack on the city.
Finn and A/4 Wayne Heideman were both great comedians with very sharp tongues and ready wits, so there was nothing boring about those first few years. Finn retired from the unit after about five years. The second photo shows Finn and the red-bearded Wayne ready to move into battle for the 200th anniversary commemoration of the Royal Yorkers’ bloodiest engagement at Oriskany. Looking at their threatening visages, one can see that the rebels didn’t find much humour there.
I often thought that Dugelby, Heideman and Nielsen were in the Yorkers just to humour Ed Anderson and I, who were both very serious about the history being represented. But whatever the motivation of those three, us five guys put the KRR NY on the reenacting map and set the tone for what has become an amazingly enduring and accomplished organization.
Although Finn’s been gone from the Yorkers for a long time, he always remained a very close friend of mine and will be greatly missed by all those who knew him well.