The Spell of the Yukon

Catching up with Big Al (looking hard as nails as usual; it’s not hard to work out who was infantry and who was cavalry) during a break in exercise.

Returning to Canada and the prairie…During one exercise when I was safety staff at British Army Unit Suffield I found myself working with an infantry company that contained none other than Big Al as its second in command.

This necessitated me on occasion whizzing out from camp, bouncing around in the back of my 4X4 truck as the driver dealt with the potholes left by the sleet or rain, while radioing his call sign to establish his location.

Once found, I darted round to the back of his FV432 armoured personnel carrier to drop off a bag of sweets and goodies, give him a quick high five, before burning off down a track to get back to work with the tank squadrons.

At the same time, on a shelf in my room stood a bottle of Yukon Jack Canadian whiskey I was safekeeping for him (Big Al has always has a soft spot for Robert Service’s poetry, hence the appeal of the Yukon) and with which we’d celebrate once he came in off the prairie, and I didn’t have to worry about exercising troops in their armoured vehicles accidentally firing on each other.

Another part of the celebration process was to be a post exercise trip to Vancouver to visit some distant family relatives I’d never met before.

It felt time for a change from Calgary and the Yukon was a bit far given time available; plus we’d had our fair share of Alberta’s version of “the wilds where the caribou call” and “hardships that nobody reckons” and therefore fancied a somewhat more comfortable option.

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