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‘Boy soldier’ recalls the hullabaloo at the end of Second World War

Saanich veteran enlisted in the Canadian Technical Training Core at age 17
Knut Moeskau wanted to join the Canadian Airforce during the Second World War. He was rejected for having acne. He went on to serve in the Canadian Technical Training Core. (Submitted/Broadmead Care)

When Knut Moeskau, 97, joined the Canadian Technical Training Core (CTTC), also known as the “boy soldiers,” he got 75 cents per day for the training.

“After training, they gave you $1.30,” he said.

Moeskau decided to try and do his part in the Second World War at 17, following in his father’s footsteps, who joined the Royal Canadian Corps of Signals.

He was rejected from joining the Royal Canadian Air Force due to his acne.

“They didn’t want people with that. So that was it.”

Rejected by the military, he joined the army cadets in Victoria. During training, a senior non-commanding officer from the regular army praised his dedication.

“He called me aside after, and he says, ‘I like your attitude, ever thought about being in another unit.’”

It was not long after this that he began training with the CTTC, which numbered around 6,000 across Canada during that time, with an average age of 17.

“I got two stripes. All right. So that really made me feel good.”

He was given a choice of what trade he wanted to do and decided to enter the electrical trade.

Knut and the other boy soldiers were housed in H-huts on Topaz Avenue, now known as Topaz Park in Victoria. Every morning, they marched to their training in downtown Victoria and returned for lunch.

“I don’t know how far it was, but it was several hours each day,” Moeskau said. “Twice a month, we had an additional four-hour route march.”

The training would send him all over Canada, and he would eventually make his way to Camp Borden and get as close to real military training as possible.

“There was training, but not quite on that scale.”

One of the highlights was when he went skiing for the first time and avoided breaking his neck when he tried to jump a bunny hill for the first time. It was not long after he went skiing that he found out that the war had ended.

“There was a real hullabaloo, you can say a lot of joy.”

He was disappointed by the war’s end as he had just finished his training and was ready to join the fight.

The Canadian government sent the boy soldiers back to Vancouver and Victoria as the overseas troops came home.

On the way home, the train that Moeskau and his group were on broke down between Winnipeg and Thunder Bay in the middle of winter.

“We were there two days. They had to bring another train in to haul us.”

After the war, he had wanted to continue with the electrical trade in the army but was told that it was at full capacity and asked if there was anything else he wanted to do.

“I told them, ‘I used to help my mother baking.’ I was only able to bake for the year, though. I enjoyed it and finished my time there. But the flour would irritate my skin something terrible.”

He did bake his wedding cake, which, according to Moeskau, had become lopsided as the icing began to melt due to the heat.

He had met his wife Marjorie while he was on a training exercise in Kingston, Ont. The couple had four children together in Greater Victoria, where they lived for 35 years.

He also worked at the dockyards and would drive cars to Detroit, where he watched the Trans-Canada Highway get built.

Moeskau went on to work with the Department of National Defence and retired in 1981. He would also serve as an Army Reservist with the Fifth British Columbia Field Regiment as a regimental sergeant major.

About the Author: Thomas Eley

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