In 1954 Comrade Bill wanted to be part of a worldlier picture. His brother had enlisted in the army two years earlier and his sister was in the Women’s Army Corps. Comrade Bill reported for basic training in London, Ipperwash and Cedar Springs, Ontario, T.O.S. 1st BN RCR in August 1954 (Taking on Strength, first Battalion, Royal Canadian Regiment).
In 1955 he earned his wings as a paratrooper. He served seven years in Canada and five in Germany where he opted to participate in an infantry signal course resulting in his rank as CPL. L1 GP2 (Corporal, Leading Infantry, Group Two).
Comrade Bill received his Special Service Medal for service in Germany from 1955 to 1957 and his Canadian Forces Decoration for his twelve years of service. In 1958, he was part of a Canada-wide military first-aid competition, and his team won the St. John’s Mary Otter Trophy.
When asked about meals away from home, Comrade Bill quickly responded that the best military food was always at the air force bases in Canada. From 1955 to 1957 as part of the British Army on the Rhine, the troops received field pay which meant they were paid one-half of their monthly allowance in British army currency which could only be spent at National Army Stores or Restaurants.
With fond recollection, Comrade Bill attributes the military of instilling in him the importance of team work, leadership and respect for everyone. He also shared that humour goes a long way. While on exercise in Germany as a radio operator he recalls the Battalion Commander stopping his jeep and asking the Company Commander, “How’s it going?” The reply, “I think I’m lost sir.” The Battalion Commander replied, “Besides that, how’s it going?”
At the time of his release from the forces in 1967, Comrade Bill and his wife Patsy returned to Coldwater and together worked at a local automotive company. At this time Comrade Bill transferred his Thedford Branch membership to Branch 270. Shortly after his transfer, volunteer opportunities as Sergeant-at-Arms and First Vice-President paved the way for his presidency for the 1971-1972 term. New civilian opportunities presented themselves and Bill and Patsy moved to Oshawa where Bill worked as a Quality Control Supervisor in the radio department of an automotive company.
Albeit this was a telephone/email Veteran Interview, this author could not help but hear the twinkle in this Veteran’s voice when he shared that Patsy and another Cub Scout Leader were on a bus outing with a troop of boisterous cub scouts. Bill and other soldiers were hitchhiking along the Queen Elizabeth Way. The ladies wanted to settle down the youngsters and asked the bus driver to pick up the uniformed soldiers. The rest is history. Love at first sight!
Comrade Bill shared, “I’ve noticed a lot of team spirit in the Branch in the short time I’ve been back in Coldwater. There’s nothing I can see I would change in Branch 270 at the moment.
Comrade Bill, we thank you for your service.
(Top) Coldwater Branch Past President Bill Coleshaw served with the Royal Canadian Regiment for 12 years, including four years in Germany.
(Bottom) Bill met Patsy Lovelace, his wife-to-be, while hitchhiking with other soldiers. It was love at first sight.