The History of 17th Field Regiment contains no named
This is what one might expect with a document produced officially
by an active military unit.
In reality, one or more persons must have written the book and clues
to its authorship existed on the world-wide web before the
book itself was placed online.
The web site of Philip Reinders on Royal Artillery units, including
Royal Canadian Artillery units, in the Netherlands during World War Two
mentions in passing that one of the authors was
Major Doug Weir.
An online obituary from Saskatchewan identifies
Captain Murray Forbes
as another author.
There were two authors of the regimental history and they were indeed
Doug Weir (1921-2013) originally of Briercrest, Saskatchewan and later
of Victoria, British Columbia and Murray Forbes (1916-2005)
formerly of Regina, Saskatchewan.
Within a week of placing this book online, I received an email from Doug Weir
commending me for keeping the history of the old unit alive and providing
detailed information on the genesis of the book.
The following quotation is from that email.
⋅ ⋅ ⋅
Shortly after we arrived in Winschoten at the end of the war the colonel
called me into his office to talk about the money the regiment had left
in a London bank when we left for Italy.
This had accumulated from mess dues which were
levied during our time in England in the
officers' and sergeants' messes to provide extras over and above
the standard rations.
If we did not use this it would be turned over to the militia authorities on our
return to Canada and demobilization.
As we were going to be in Holland for some time and as there was
a printing business in Winschoten, he had come up with the idea of having
a wartime history of the regiment written and printed in book form with a copy being
provided to every member of the regiment.
He asked me if I would undertake the task.
I said yes on the condition that he assign Captain Murray Forbes to work with me.
Murray and I were both at the University of Saskatchewan in Saskatoon just prior
to enlisting and knew each other from those days.
Murray was editor of the university yearbook and I felt that his experience would
be a great help.
The purpose of the war history was simply to provide each member of the
regiment with a diary type record of his experiences.
It was at no time intended to be used for general public distribution.
copies were printed and distributed to all present members as
well as those who at some time had been transfered out to other units
when it was possible to find them.
Both Murray and I kept the few remaining as spares.
I now have only my own copy left; the others have
gone to members who have lost their copy over the years.
My copy is not in great shape due to much handling and a rather second rate
bookbinding job by the Winschoten printers.
I mention that it was
not intended for general public distribution to explain the frequent
use of artillery language and descriptions.
From day one regimental headquarters had maintained a daily diary of events.
These were held for safekeeping in the British war office in London.
My first action on the project was to arrange to hitch a ride to
London on an
plane where I spent a week doing research on
the war diary files before returning to Holland.
It was a very special week as my wife, a war bride and a captain in the
British women's army, was stationed in London as adjutant
at the British home forces headquarters.
One of the major problems was with typesetting.
The knowledge of English at the printers was limited and much proofreading was
required as the correction process often created new errors which
required further proofreading.