World War 11 Mascots-Veterans' stories

By: Good Dogs Canada  09-12-2011

Whitey, courtesy of The Fort Garry Horse Museum and Archives

Whitey on duty

Mr. R. J. Keddie of Kingston, Ontario, served with the Fort Garry Horse and Tank Regiment from Winnipeg, Manitoba from Sept. 1939 to Sept. 1945.

The Fort Garry Horse and Tank regiment was to become part of the 2nd Canadian Armoured Brigade which was given a role as vanguard in the invasion of Normandy.

“Whitey was the regimental mascot who joined us in the Winnipeg Robinson Building on one cold October night in 1939. He appeared on the doorstep, was invited in to warm up, and stayed. Whitey became a Fort Garry Horse member with his own regimental number: H 26001/2”.

The regiment trained for duty in that building and also briefly in camp Shilo. In 1941 the regiment sailed for England where they continued an armoured role. After accompanying us everywhere in Canada, Whitey was smuggled into England in a box while under anaesthetic.

Mr. Keddie remembers: “He served with us throughout all our time in England , both at work or at play and the Collie was always there. He used to lead the regiment to church. They’d bring him in, and he would lie down in the aisle right by the front pew, and would stay there the whole time. If you couldn’t see him you wouldn’t know he was there. And when the service was over he would get up and lead them out again.”

Whitey lived with ‘B’Squadron, and at morning parade time, when the Sgt. Major shouted his orders to “fall in”, Whitey would literally herd the men into their various troop formations, all the while barking and rounding up the slow movers. He knew to be quiet when the Sgt. Major was about to give forth with subsequent orders, but would then give more barking, just to punctuate the situation.

Ted Brumwell, also of “B” Squadron, recalls: “He would attach himself to a Trooper as his master for a couple of weeks, then move on to another troop.”

Whitey was polite to any Fort Garry soldier but liked no others. Ever a democrat, he didn’t pay much attention to officers.

Shortly before D-Day this fine animal was accidentally hit by a truck while he was on duty. Whitey was buried with proper military ceremony at a spot code-named ‘Shangri-La’ near Fawley on Southapton Water, United.Kingdom in May 1944. He was much missed by his squadron and remembered for sixty years.

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