Far from Home: A Memoir of a Twentieth-Century Soldier

Far from Home: A Memoir of a Twentieth-Century Soldier

Far from Home: A Memoir of a Twentieth-Century Soldier

Far from Home: A Memoir of a Twentieth-Century Soldier


This book recounts the life of a soldier who grew up in 1920s Calgary and became an officer in the Canadian army who travelled the world. Williams offers a vivid retelling of growing up in Calgary during the depression. Following the outbreak of war in 1939, Williams was sent to England as an untrained, but enthusiastic, amateur member of the Canadian army. During his thirty-three years in the army, Williams experienced wars in Europe and Korea and served in Canada, Germany, the United States, and England. With an uncanny memory, Williams tells tales of meeting various famous and unknown people of the twentieth century, including the Royal Family, John Diefenbaker, and Dwight D Eisenhower, among others. Williams' transition from "the most untrained officer in the army" to an "army officer at home in the Pentagon", along with the culture shock of moving from a relatively simple upbringing to the sophisticated life of an international officer, is told with great humour and rare insight into the human side of the military life.


Only when childhood is past and there is time to reflect do most people become interested in their family’s history. So it was with me and I deeply regret the opportunities, now lost forever, to question those who could have shed light on mine.

At some time in the future my children might become as curious as I. With that in mind, some years ago I began making notes about my childhood in Calgary and things which happened as I stumbled through life. I had kept no diaries but I did have a copy of my Army files, obtained from the National Archives in Ottawa – all fifteen pounds of them. They contained such details of my military service as the date I embarked for France in 1944, confidential reports made on me by senior officers, and the type of fillings in my bicuspids. I decided to spare readers that: most of my text is a product of memory.

I showed my efforts to my wife and children and to a few friends. Their comments and questions, along with family photographs so kindly produced by my nephew and nieces, pushed out the bounds of recollection and led to a final manuscript.

I became a soldier and was first trained by veterans of the Boer and 1914-18 Wars. My own experiences began in 1937 and continued through . . .

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