East York vet experienced Cold War in every way

Ron Raby at Royal Canadian Legion Remembrance event.
Ron Raby at Royal Canadian Legion Remembrance event.

When he was 18 and in the Canadian Armed Forces, Ron Raby remembered going sleepless for days while stationed in the town of Soest, West Germany. It was 1953, during the Cold War.

“We had to sleep in tents, in weather below 45 degrees,” Raby said.

At the time, Raby served with the Royal Canadian Regiment (RCR), as part of the Canadian Infantry Brigade Group, (CIBG). Raby, an East York resident, was trained on small weapons at the port Churchill for two months before being deployed to Soest. He served for two years among 1,000 members of the RCR as Canada’s peacetime contribution to NATO.

During his overseas posting, Raby said they had only about an hour of daylight and the rest was all snow.

“And the wind never stopped blowing,” he said.

On training one day he went out on foot patrol along with a part of the regiment for 40 miles; next morning he said he woke up. These conditions, he said caused post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), which caused sleep disorder, being overstressed and not eating well. Raby, now 82, sympathizes with the next generation of servicemen and women overseas.

“You take Afghanistan,” he said. “How would you like to be there if they take a kid, strap dynamite on him and someone goes down the street and they blow him up? That’s how security personnel come back home with PTSD.”

Marilyn Dickinson works as a service officer at the Royal Canadian Legion, Branch 10, in East York. She said Legion personnel have helped veterans overcome their stress, both online and in-person.

“A sight, a sound, and a smell can trip a (wartime) memory,” Dickinson said, but she added that the Legion is the place where vets can come and feel safe.