My name is Arthur Leonard Earle. I was born on 26 September 1915 in North Sydney, Nova Scotia. My father, Stanley Hastings Earle worked for Western Union and my mother, Anna Van Vost MacKenzie was a busy homemaker to six children. I had two brothers and three sisters. One died as an infant and the rest are now deceased. I completed grade 10 in High School and then joined the Army.
On 13 September 1939 at No. 5 Fortress Signals in Glace Bay, Nova Scotia, I enlisted as a Signalman and completed Basic Training. A group of young men met in the upstairs hall of the YMCA in Glace Bay. It was our first introduction to a uniformed Sergeant Major, who had received training at Chelsea Barracks in England during the First World War. He put us through our Basic Training, by first showing us static movements at the hall. Then later when we moved to Peters Hall, close to Reserve Mines, he showed us how to march and do various drill movements. We were still in civilian clothes and at that point not one individual had signed any enrollment documents. The reason for this was because there were none to sign. I was told to report to the Orderly Room as the Clerk, but there was nothing there at the YMCA building. It was just a bare room. Later the OC authorized me to go the local supply store and I got everything needed to run an office. I purchased the supplies and had them sent to St. Peters Hall.
My Officer Commanding was Major J.J. Kingan and my Lieutenants were Cornelius McNamara and Stanley Fredericks. The Company Sergeant Major was Alexander MacPhee and the Company Quarter-Master Sergeant was John S. Kingan. My barracks were at Paassendale, St. Peter’s Hall, Glace Bay, Nova Scotia. I was promoted to A/Cpl on October 17, 1939. It is interesting to note that St. Peters Hall had a garage on the downstairs floor. It had suffered a very large fire and all the recruits were ordered to effect the necessary repairs. It just so happened that one of the recruits had considerable training in handling lumber and making repairs, so he was put in charge. It took a while, but upon completion we used the upstairs as Barracks and Mess Hall, and downstairs was made into offices.
On September 30, 1939, with the permission of Major J.J. Kingan, I married Mary Catherine Kingan. By this time, late October, the men were marching around the area each day but we were still in civilian clothes. Our footwear was getting pretty worn out when we received an order from the OC to go the Eaton’s Department Store and purchase enough boots and socks for 110 men. The OC had access to funds for such purchases plus payroll. I soon found out that I was also the Pay Clerk, as well as the Orderly Room Clerk. This was because the personnel chosen for these positions failed to show up for enlistment. It was very difficult to get the required enlistment forms from Halifax and to pay the men in cash every two weeks. It felt like I never got out of the office for the six years I served.
Our Sergeant Major was a stickler. We received parts of our uniform on a gradual basis from Ottawa. Some of it had been left over from World War 1 and some of it arrived from factories that were getting into production. I can remember that as we received any part of the uniform, the Sergeant Major made us wear it. The first thing to arrive was long underwear from World War I and grey socks and boots. We donned them. The Signal Corp were supposed to wear breeches, but we never got them. The next item of clothing to arrive were World War I single breasted greatcoats, with Signals buttons. It was now winter and we donned them also. The next thing was a long sealskin hat that was 12” high. It was supposed to be folded into a firm fitting hat but the Sergeant Major made us wear them straight up! Let me tell you we were some presentable with boots, grey socks, very long greatcoats and hats. I was then moved into the Lyceum Theatre on George Street, Sydney, Nova Scotia on March 1, 1940 and promoted to Sergeant on May 1, 1940. It wasn’t until then that we received battle dress.
In 1941 we moved to the newly constructed barracks and offices at Victoria Park in Sydney. Colonel Dobbie was the Fortress Commander with a full staff of Officers and NCOs. I was promoted to Company Quartermaster Sergeant on 1 March 1941 and in May I was posted on temporary duty to Halifax. On 17 November 1941 I proceeded on command to Headquarters of Atlantic Command Signals. Then on 14 January 1942 I went on command back to Sydney and was made Acting Warrant Officer Class One on 1 February 1942. On 15 January 1943 I was attached to A 17 C.M.G.T.C. at 3 Rivers, Quebec for Officer Training and was promoted to 2nd Lieutenant Quartermaster on 22 January 1943. Then a posting to C.A.S.S. Kemptville, Ontario for Officer Training. I was promoted to Lieutenant on 8 June 1943 and was attached to No. 4 Coy, Atlantic Command Signals at St. John, New Brunswick on 9 June 1943. While in this position I assumed the duties of Adjutant, Paymaster and Quartermaster.
On occasion in 1943, there was a terrible storm in British Columbia, with much damage to power and communication lines. Our Construction Company was asked to send a lot of our Linemen there by way of the CNR, with complete equipment space, Pullman car and dining car facilities and all the CNR staff to look after them. Needless to say it was a far cry from the daily life of a soldier. We soon found out that we would have to lay the submarine cable for all telephone and radio equipment that would go the various Forts in Sydney Harbour. Even without the proper equipment we got the job done! Then we were involved in restoring all the rural telephone offices in Cape Breton and Nova Scotia so that spotters could call after sighting any submarines or aircraft that might appear. It was called the Aircraft Detection Corps. Civilians living in the area were asked to act as spotters
In June 1944 I was having a medical in preparation for overseas duty. The doctor giving me the medical was of the opinion that I was allergic to certain things so he sent me to the hospital to be checked out by a specialist. I was admitted to Sussex Military Hospital on 25 June 1944 and discharged on 28 July 1944. It was determined that I was allergic to many things, and that it would not be practical for me to be sent overseas. I was downgraded from an A-1 Medical, which I had for five years, to an (F).
I was then posted to HQ Atlantic Command Signals in Halifax on 21 August 1944 and promoted to Acting Captain Adjutant and later Confirmed Captain Adjutant. As Adjutant of Atlantic Command Signals I received 50 cents a day extra as a Captain which was paid $5.00 per day, plus living out allowance.
On September 13, 1939 when I joined the military, I expected and wanted to go overseas that Fall. But it wasn’t to be. Our Signal Companies were just too busy and by the time came around that I could go, my medical condition made it impossible. Given the chance though, I would certainly do it all over again.
After discharge from the Signal Corp in 1945 I acquired Grade 11. Then I studied and worked with a Chartered Accountant Firm of Nicoll & Barrow in Halifax and from there I worked with the Income Tax Department in Sydney, Nova Scotia. Then I was employed as the Controller at McCurdy & Company Store in Charlotte. In 1950 I opened my own accounting business in Sydney where I remained until 1975 when I retired. In 1978 we moved to Truro, where we still reside. We have one child, Karen Leigh, who is married to David Arnfast. They blessed us with two grandsons and one granddaughter and we also have two great grandsons and one great grand-daughter.