Tank crews of The British Columbia Dragoons lined up in front of their Sherman tanks during a review by General H.D.G. Crerar followed by a mounted marchpast, Eelde, Netherlands, 23 May 1945.
Photographer: Jack H. Smith. Mikan Number: 3223023.
From the Library and Archives Canada virtual exhibit "Faces of War."
The General's Inspection
By Colonel E. R. Rivers-Macpherson, OB, Ottawa, (Late The Gordon Highlanders)
Canadian Army Journal, Vol 11, No 1, Jan 1957
How often one looks back and smiles on the harmless subterfuges we used to resort to in the old days to try, if possible, to deceive the General on his annual inspection of the regiment. I expect the General smiled too-well remembering that he had done the self-same things, though the technique had altered somewhat over the years. [This anecdote appeared originally in The Forces Magazine (United Kingdom) and is reproduced by courtesy of that magazine and the author. - Editor, CAJ.]
"I well remember one such inspection when I was a very young subaltern. In the early part of the century, long before the NAAFI came into being, the regiment ran its own canteen and recreation rooms, then known as the "Regimental Institutes". The junior subalterns all took it in turn to keep the accounts under the Second-in-Command. The annual GOC's inspection coincided with my tour of duty and I thus became enmeshed in the intrigue whether I liked it or not. The great day drew near, and as the recreation room was not very popular with the troops (it was very dark, gloomy, and most unattractive), I was instructed to parade enough men of my Company and to distribute them around the tables playing checkers, dominoes, cards, etc. The idea was to impress the General with the popularity of the room. I was further told to arrange for a young drummer to remove a book ("Pilgrim's Progress") from the bookshelf as the General came around. The General was delighted to see the room crowded and beamed on the smiling faces of the men (the Sergeant-Major had previously ordered them to "smile happily" when the General entered the room). "Splendid! Splendid!" remarked the GOC. "Jolly good show!" (He probably wondered why he had never thought that one up when he was a subaltern!). Then going up to a young soldier, he said: "Well, my man what a real home-from-home you have here. I suppose you spend all your spare time here?" "Beggin' your pardon, sir," replied the soldier, "I nivver enter this perish'n rat-hole, and I only came here today `cause I was blinkin' well marched in." There was complete consternation around, of course. I could see the General longing to guffaw but, controlling himself, he made some excuse and left the room, only giving a casual glance at my cherubic drummer who was piously engrossed in "Pilgrim's Progress"! Well, I expect the same kind of dodges are being perpetrated today when the Generals inspect the regiments. And, you know, I really think the old boys get a kick out of it too!"