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Recollections of A Germany Posting and a Recce Pilot's flying log 1964 - 1967.

Contributed by Capt Stan Cote.

     Arrived in Fort Chambly, outside of Soest, and joined the Fort Garry Reconnaissance Sqn (did not have to rebadge). The sqn had three scout car troops and one helicopter troop. The Helo Tp had 6 Hiller helos, 7 pilots, 6 Sgt observers with 20 men to provide maintenance, radio repair and fuel support. We had a small hanger and a landing pad in the camp. I started flying the 30 Jun. and spent the remainder of 1964 training and on exercises. By the end of the year I had added 100 flying hrs.

     In Germany most of our flying during training and exercises was nap of the earth flying. This was flying very close to the ground (we called it “skids in the grass”) so that the helo would not be visible at any distance. The chopper was just a scout car with wings. Normally we flew in low ground away from ridge lines, if possible around woods not over, under power lines, telephone lines and bridges. Sneak and peek, hover often and observe, usually work in pairs and with scout cars. In heavy wooded areas cars would go thru and we would move and observe on the flanks. Nap was very demanding flying so most of the time we flew nap even when not required in order to stay sharp. (We had a visit one time from a group of Air Force 104 Recce pilot who were noted for their low flying, we took them out on a nap run and scared the crap out of them.) Normal crew was a pilot and sgt observer. The sgt watched the flanks, did the map reading and worked the radios leaving the pilot free to fly. However the pilot still had to be aware of everything and flying became instinctive.


Jan Local training
Feb Fly Engineer Recce Course.
Mar Local training
Apr Training with PPCLI and RCHA recce teams. Navigation exercises
May Exercise Rainy Day (11 days) and RCHA Hohne Gun Camp
May 25 Helicopter Troop formation fly-by for Queen Elizabeth ll
Jun 2-17 Fly to Holland and Belgium on DVA Charter to take air photos of Cdn war cemeteries
Jul 2 15 days leave, to Arnhem Holland for NATO Tatoo
Aug Exercise Hi-Tower
Sep 3 Reached 500 hours helicopters
Sep Low level navigation training and work with RCR on Ex Trail Blazer -recce, patrol drops, radio relay
Sep 20 Brigade exercise at Soltau. Helicopters grounded. Used as behind enemy lines patrols
Nov Local training
Dec 14 Formation fly-by for Lt Gen Sir Richard Goodwin

     1965 started the same, exercise and training with our own recce troops, engineers, artillery, and infantry. On the 25 May we had a formation fly-by for Queen Elizabeth II who was visiting the Cdn Brigade.

     From the 2 - 17 Jun 65 I was involved with a DVA task to take air photos of Cdn War Cemeteries in Holland, Belgium and France. Following is part of the tasking message from CFHQ-

261450Z May 65
1. Approval has now been granted to provide a CH112 Helicopter for DVA during the week beginning 7 Jun 65 in accordance with ORDER IN COUNCIL PC 1958-19/65. The DVA party will consist of 4 persons including Mr. GS Way, Chief of Information Services. The party will travel via RCAF special flight carrying the Minister of National Defence to arrive in Paris 2310 local 30 May.
2. Initial base of operations should be from a suitable airfield in Arras and Ypres area. It is planned to potograph memorials and cemeteries vicinity of Arras, Ypers, Vimy and Somme areas. If time permits, possibly similar areas in Holland.
3. DVA party will be equipped with one station wagon and one land rover in support of the operation.

311648Z May 65
1.Concerning aerial photography by DVA in France. Am informed by French authorities that request for authorization of this project must be submitted through diplomatic channels. Info required as follows: A) complete itinerary, B) number and type of helicopter, C) radio call signs, D) name of pilot, E) number of passengers and/or crew, F) precise details of positions to be photographed to include number of photos to be taken of each location.
2. Essential that this info be provided soonest if project to be carried out on date requested.

     3 Jun 65 I took my chopper, observer Sgt Francis and crew chief SSgt Barnes and we flew to a Dutch airbase at DEELEN. DVA had hired a civilian commercial photographer Gordon Hunter to take the photos from the air and ground. We met up with Hunter and the DVA ground party that afternoon and laid out our photo schedule. Took air photos in Holland until the 10th then moved to Belgium to a civilian field at WEVELGEM (old WW 2 RAF Spitfire base) just outside of Ypres. Flew out of there until the 17th then returned to Chambly. We were supposed to film war cemeteries in France but the French would not let us in so only the ground photos were taken. The reason for the project was that DVA were going to put together a book of all Cdn war cemeteries to be available for next of kin. Years later in Ottawa I dropped by DVA to have a look at the book. I was told that the originator of the project had died shortly after and the project was shelved. They had no idea where the photos were located.

     While we waited at WAVELGEM to see if the French would let us in we had a chance to visit all the cemeteries we had air photo’d. Very impressive. Also visited the MENIN GATE where the names of thousands of men with no known graves are inscribed. We hangered the helo in a small maintenance hangar where a company carried out overhauls on small aircraft. The owner, who also owned a couple of chinaware factories, took us around the area several times including into France (thru a back road with no customs). In return I took him and his wife up on a couple of flights. By the 17th with no word from the French and Hunters contract running out we left and returned to Chambly. Following is my report of the trip.

Recce Sqn FGH
CFPO 5050
Fort Chambly 538
22 Jun 65

DVA Charter Flight
Air Photos of Canadian Cemeteries in Europe

1. Helicopter 10276 and crew left Fort Chambly at 1045 hrs 2 Jun 65 for VOLKEL Air force Base Holland. On arrival at 1315 hrs the a/c was refueled and a local flt was made. During this flt the a/c rotor tachometer became unserviceable so the helicopter returned to Fort Chambly.

2. At 1000 hrs 3 Jun helicopter 10273 and crew left Fort Chambly for DEELEN Army Air Base and arrived at 1245 hrs. Fuel and hanger facilities were available. Later that day the crew met the DVA party and a schedule was decided.

3. 4 Jun was overcast and while a photo mission was attempted it was not successful.

4. 5 Jun was a holiday and normally the air base would be closed, however it was kept open for the photo mission. Due to the cloud cover it was not possible to make any photo flights. The crew stood down at 1300 hrs.

5. 6 and 7 Jun were holidays and no military flying (except operational) can take place.

6. 8 an 9 Jun were unsuitable for photography due to cloud cover.

7. On 10 Jun the HOLTEN and GROESBEEK cemeteries in Holland and the KLEVE and RHINEBERG cemeteries in Germany were photographed.

8. The crew of helicopter 273 received excellent cooperation and assistance from the personnel at DEELEN Air Base.

9. Helicopter 273 left DEELEN at 1430 hrs 10 Jun, refueled at SEPPE Holland, photographed the cemetery at BERGEN OP ZOOM Holland, refueled at GENT Belgium and arrived at WEVELGEM Belgium at 1830 hrs. WEVELGEM is a civilian airport twenty minutes flying time from YPERS, the center of the photo missions.

10. 11, 12 and 13 Jun were clear and by 1200 hrs 13 Jun all cemeteries in Belgium had been photographed.

11. Fuel and hanger facilities were available at WEVELGEM airport and no problems were encountered.

12. From 14 to 16 Jun the crew waited at WEVELGEM for permission to enter France. Daily phone calls were received from the DVA party in France who were in touch with the Canadian Military Attache in Paris. Each day they were told that permission should be granted the next day. The night of 16 Jun the crew were told that they could enter France perhaps on 21 Jun. As the photographer had to return to Canada on the 20 Jun the crew were told to return to Germany.

13. Helicopter 273 and crew left WEVELGEM at 1200 hrs 17 Jun, refueled at GENT and WILDENRATH and arrived at Fort Chambly at 1600 hrs.

(1) Total Flying Hrs 26:25
(2) Taxis to/from airfields $ 11.20 U.S.
(3) Capt - 15 days @ $ 9.50
SSgt - 15 days @ $ 7.50
Sgt - 15 days @ $ 7.50
(4) 1 landing at Seppe Holland $ 0.84 U.S.
3 landings at Gent Belgium $ 2.40 U.S.
(5) Other expenses
(a) Fuel at Civil APs $ 158.96 U.S.
(b) Hanger & maint fees $ 18.00 U.S.
(c) Telegram & telephone $ 14.30 U.S.
(d) Fuel at Mil APs - 740 litrs & 17 qts oil

     Back to normal training and exercise routine. I reached 500 helicopter hrs on 3 Sep 65. First two weeks of Sep spent in Soltau training area (near Hamburg) on sqn training. End Sep, early Oct 65 was the large Divisional Exercise over all of Northern Germany up to the East German border. We had a maint problem and our choppers were grounded awaiting parts from the factory in the States. I talked the CO into volunteering our service to the British SAS. We provided six -two man patrols to be dropped behind exercise enemy lines with a radio. HQ bought the idea so we linked up with the SAS, were briefed and dropped off by Brit helicopters. My radio op and I spent 7 days creeping around the hills and woods of Germany observing enemy activity. An Arty L19 flew up and down the front line twice a day and we passed our info to him. We lived on the rations we carried and food from friendly German farmers. Usually spent the night in a barn. At exercise cease fire the SAS picked us up, debriefed and thanked us and took us back to Chambly.

Jan 10 Recce Sqn FGH depart and C Sqn 8th Canadian Hussars took over. Helicopter Troop remained the same
Jan Local training with new Sqn
Feb Flying with Engineer Recce Course
Mar Flying with Brigade Patrol Competition. Ex Mountain Goat
Apr Training with C Sqn scout cars
May Flying for Engineer Bridge Camp and sqn training
Jun Working with Surface to Surface Missile (SSM) recce party close to East German border
Jul Flying for Artillery Gun Camp at Munster-Lager
Aug Sqn exercises and 2 weeks leave
Sep Training with Infantry on recce and Brigade Group exercises at Saltau
Oct Divisional Exercise Checkmate in Northern Germany
Nov Local training and the troop moved in to a new hanger just outside Fort Chambly
Dec Local training

     10 Jan 1966 Recce Sqn FGH departed for Canada and C Sqn 8th Canadian Hussars took over. The helicopter troop did not change. Our personnel rotated on an individual basis. Jan spent in local training getting the new sqn settled in. Most of Feb 66 was spent flying about 60 hrs on an Engineer Recce Course teaching engineers how to carry out recce from a chopper. Mar a Bde Patrol Competition, Apr training with C Sqn scout cars, May 66 up to the Waser River for Engineer Bridge Camp and sqn training. Jun I spent 3 weeks close to the East German border with a Surface to Surface Missile (SSM) recce party. We selected main and alternate firing positions for the launchers, roads leading in and the area to mate the nuclear warhead with the missile. A chopper recce could do the same area as 3 ground vehicle recce parties and faster.

     For the first week we stayed at Hameln. The locals let us use a tennis court beside a swimming pool for a landing pad. They let us have a key to the gate into the pool so we could use the washrooms and the pool any time we wanted. When we were not flying we lounged around the pool. During the day the girls would come in for a swim and change on the grass beside the pool. I took the poolmeister and several town officials up for a local flight.

     Jul 66 back to the field for a week Arty gun camp at Munster-Lager. Aug another week of sqn exercises and the 2 weeks leave. Sep 66 a week’s training with the inf on recce and the up to Saltau for a week Bde Group exercise.

     12 Sep I took a train to the Mercedes plant outside of Frankfurt and picked up a 1966 Mercedes 250S sedan ($ 4200).

     Oct 66 the Divisional exercise again (this time we were serviceable) 2 weeks of chasing around Northern Germany. Nov and Dec local training.

     Nov 66 we moved from our helo pad in Fort Chambly to a new heliport a mile outside Chambly. It had a 1000 foot grass strip (for L19s) hanger with offices and RCEME Workshop attached (helo and L19) and a fire hall with a German chief and 5 DP (displaced persons) firemen.

Jan Local training
Feb Flying with Engineer Recce Course
Mar Finish Engineer Recce Course and local training
Apr Up to Hohne on sqn exercises
May 3 Fly Maj Gen Rothschild on Brigade area tour
May Local training
May 24 Fly Brig Dextrass on Brigade area tour
Jun Sennelager for sqn exercises
Jul 1 Celebrate Centennial Year with Fly-in Breakfast at our Heliport. 70 helicopters and 15 fixed wing
Jul 15 Depart Germany for Trenton. Posted to a helicopter directorate (DLFORA) in Ottawa
Sep 3 Reported in to AHQ DLFORA to be employed as a staff officer in helicopter section

     Jan 1967 local training. Feb, another 2 week Engineer Recce Course. Mar 67 finish the Recce Course and local training. Apr back to Hohne on sqn exercises. May local training and several VIP runs. Jun back to Sennelager for sqn exercise.

     When I took over the troop I decided to celebrate our Centennial year with a Fly-in Breakfast at our Heliport around the 1st of Jul, we sent out invitations to every NATO Helicopter and Light Fixed Wing organization we could find for 30 Jun. Following is a write up in the Bde newspaper “Beaver”.

Fly-in Breakfast Success
     SOEST - A Centennial project organized by C Sqn 8CH of 4 CIBG last week won recognition for adding top international flavour to the brigade’s Centennial activities.
     Hosts at a “Fly-in Breakfast” welcoming more than 200 military guests who arrived in more than 80 aircraft of 15 different types were members of the sqn’s Helicopter Troop commanded by Capt. SW Cote, a member of the Lord Strathcona’s Horse.
     Visitors began arriving shortly after 8 am on Jun 30th at the brigade air-strip near Fort Chambly and were transported from the landing area in a jeep towed “Prairie Schooner” to a Western style breakfast in the hanger buildings.
     A substantial meal of fried eggs, home fried potatoes, pancakes, bacon, beans and coffee were served continuously until early afternoon to cater to pilots and crews from five other NATO nations who arrived and departed throughout the day.

     Hungry aircrew did full justice to the well served meal by tucking away about 90 pounds of bacon, 700 pancakes, 60 dozen eggs, six gallons of beans and 20 gallons of coffee.
     Brig EAC Amy, the Brigade Commander, flew in mid-morning to greet and chat with groups of pilots who gathered informally to exchange information and discuss relative merits of the many aircraft marshalled in the hanger area.
     Different types of aircraft included the Sikorsky H 34 (7), Wessex (1), Allouette 2 (24) and 3 (1), Bristol Sycamore (4), Augusta Bell Sioux (11), Skeeter (13), Scout (2), Huey UH1B (3) OH-13H (3) and Hiller Ch112, all helicopters and Beaver (4), Cessna L19 (3), Otter (2), Dornier DO 27 (4) and Piper Cub (2) fixed wing aircraft.
     Visiting pilots were from Navy and Army Air Force and Search and Rescue units of United States, British, Netherlands, German, Belgium and Canadian NATO forces. Total 222.
     Assisting the Helicopter Troop in planning and organizing their international Centennial project were members of 1 Transport Company RCASC, 4 Signal Sqn RC Sigs, the Aircraft Platoon of 4 Field Workshop RCEME, the brigade Air OP Troop and air traffic control officers from RAF Gutersloh.
     My departure date for Canada was 15 Jul 67 on being posted to Ottawa to an organization called DLFORA which I had never heard of. I got a few last days of flying in including taking all our custom inspectors on a flight that included passes over a couple of nudist camps. Had no trouble with my custom inspection. Sent the Mercedes by boat to be delivered to Trenton, packed up our baggage and sent it off and moved into the Officer Club until we left. I ended up with 1400 hrs total flying. On the 15th we bussed to Dusseldorf and flew RCAF to Trenton where the Mercedes was waiting and 35 days leave.

     I enjoyed my tour in Germany. Had challenging flying. The Hiller was a pretty basic helicopter with no instrument capability. We flew in a lot of very marginal weather. We had no restrictions on our flying, just use common sense. Several times I hover taxied behind my observer walking in front to get us from one position to another or to get out of a fog bank. We could land any place in Germany without permission or use farmers’ fields to camp. We didn’t have much issue equipment. I bought my own tent, camp cot and an outer sleeping bag. We had Brit field ration which hadn’t changed since Korea so we usually bought our own. Very seldom did we work as a troop normally only on major exercises. One or two choppers with a couple of mechanics in a 3/4 ton truck with a fuel trailer working with the other units. Helicopters in the Army were relatively new and we were always looking for and coming up with new ideas and trying them out. Engineer river recces, looking for fordable crossing, would take several engineer parties several hours to search a stretch of river. We developed a method where one engineer officer and one chopper could do the same search in one hour. Road recces for engineer portable bridges, could the bridge vehicle make the turns, were the road bridges wide enough and strong enough. Laying signal wire across country. Artillery spotting instead of L19s. Dropping small infantry patrols behind enemy lines. The Hiller could only carry two passengers. Allow infantry commanders to carry out a much more detailed recce of an area or position. At one time each infantry bn was to get two helicopters. The Yanks were going through the same process in Viet Nam.

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8 CH Recce Troop 1966

Living in the field on exercise.

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8 CH Recce Troop 1966

Living in the field on exercise.

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8 CH Recce Troop 1966

Pilot & Observer Capt Cote, Sgt Jantz

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8 CH Recce Troop 1966/67

Front (on ground)

Rollie Keith,   Sgt Poole (Observer).

Rear Row L to R

Ken Tryon,   Stan Cote,   Fraser Webb,   Fred Rehse (sitting on chopper litter),   Villeneuve (Observer),   Dave Priekshot.

(Priekshot and Keith are not pilots)