A Korean War Group to the 5th Field Ambulance
Korean War Group to Sergeant Gilbert Bessette - Korea Medal (SB 10912 G.G. BESSETTE); United Nations Korea Medal (SB 10912 G.G. BESSETTE); and Canadian Forces' Decoration, QEII (SGT G.G. BESSETTE). Naming is officially impressed on the KM, privately engraved on the UNKM and officially engraved on the CFD. Court-mounted with swing bar pinback, as worn by the veteran, original ribbons, dark patina on the KM, light contact, extremely fine. Accompanied by a Uniform Name Plate (yellow embroidered lettering on a green nylon/cotton weave, 25 mm x 85 mm), along with copies of his Attestation Paper, Service Records, Course Report Forms and Funeral Home Statement of Death, plus a file photograph of Bessettein uniform. Footnote: Gilbert George Bessette was born on February 28, 1928 in Hamilton, Ontario. He signed his Attestation Paper with the 5th Field Ambulance, Royal Canadian Army Medical Corps, on June 27, 1944 at Hamilton, Ontario, naming his next-of-kin as his mother, Mrs. Eva Bessette of Hamilton, stating that he has no previous military service and that his trade was that of Labourer. His birth year is 1928 but it was changed to 1927, to allow him to be old enough to join the army, especially with only a Grade Eight education. He attended the annual camp in 1944 and was re-mustered as a Private on August 28, 1944. After the Second World War, he was struck off strength upon re-organization on December 12, 1946. Bessette re-enlisted on November 21, 1951 at 6 PD in Toronto and was transferred to the 3rd Battalion, Royal Canadian Regiment at Petawawa, Ontario on November 30th. He was to see two promotions: to Private 2nd Class (May 21, 1952) and to Private 1st Class (September 12, 1952). In the new year, he was posted to CE (FE) on March 3, 1953, embarking Canada on March 13th and arriving in Japan on the 19th. Three days later, he embarked Japan for the Korean theatre on March 22nd, arriving in Korea the next day. It was in Korea that he was to begin a series of offences. He was Absent Without Leave from 2045 to 2200 hours on June 25, 1953 and sentenced to fourteen days extra work and duty and $10.00 fine. He passed the Cook Group 1 Course and qualified as a Cook on January 31, 1954. However, his indiscretions continued, as he was declared Absent Without Leave from 2230 hours on March 7, 1954 to 1500 hours on March 8, 1954 and was sentenced to fourteen days CB Private and $15.00 fine. After one year in the Korean theatre, with the war now over, he embarked for Canada on March 27, 1954, arriving on April 12th, where he was transferred to 1st Battalion, Canadian Guards on April 16, 1954. He was sent to the Royal Canadian Army Service Corps School at Camp Borden on July 17, 1954. It was here that he was Absent Without Leave on three additional occasions, before returning the 1st Battalion, Canadian Guards at Petawawa on November 6, 1954. He re-engaged for three years' service on November 22, 1954 and passed the Cook Group 2 Course on March 16, 1955, before marrying Madeline Dorothy Bessette on April 23, 1955 and was to later have three children with her. He was again Absent Without Leave, this time at Petawawa in May 1955. Even though he was habitually Absent Without Leave, it did not affect his advancement in the ranks, as he was appointed Lance Corporal on December 16, 1955, then Acting Corporal on November 22, 1956. Bessette was admitted to Petawawa Military Hospital on January 15, 1957 and discharged on the 22nd, although the service records do not indicate as to why. He passed the Junior NCO Course on May 17, 1957, in addition to re-engaging for three years' service and being promoted to Corporal on November 21, 1957. He returned to the Royal Canadian Army Service Corps School at Camp Borden from October 24, 1958 to January 30, 1959, then taken on strength of 1st Battalion, Canadian Guards, where he was re-mustered form Cook Group 2 to Cook Group 3. He was with the 1st Battalion, Canadian Guards when he embarked Canada on September 22, 1959, disembarking in the United Kingdom on the 29th. He embarked the United Kingdom the next day, disembarking in Holland on October 1st and posted to Canadian Army Continental Europe. One month later, he departed for Germany on November 1st, where he was stationed for three years and received a Special Allowance (Continental Europe and the United Kingdom), re-engaging for three years' service on November 21, 1960. After his European service concluded, he embarked Germany on November 28, 1962, disembarking in Canada later that day and was promoted the following week to Sergeant on December 7th. Bessette re-engaged for six years' service on November 21, 1963 and was awarded the Canadian Forces' Decoration on January 13, 1964. He reverted to Sub Corporal on May 1, 1964, when he was sent from the 1st Battalion, Canadian Guards at Camp Picton, Ontario to the Royal Canadian Army Service Corps School at Camp Borden, Ontario. It was here that he was to take the No. 51 Senior NCO Course for the next six weeks, from March 23rd to May 1st. In his Course Report Form, dated May 1, 1964, it noted that he had taken the following subjects: Drill; Map and Air Photo Using; Methods of Instruction (Including Mutuals); Military Law; Military Writing; NCO Duties; Nuclear, Biological and Chemical Warfare; Organization and Tactics; Physical Fitness Training (Theoretical); Range Courses and Weapon Training; and Exercise "Stamina". It was noted in his records that "A Sgt BESSETTE was unable to attain acceptable standard in order to qualify on this course. The results of his mutual instruction and the theoretical examination on Methods of Instruction were far below the standard for this course. In addition, A Sgt BESSETTE failed three written examinations and on those subjects he did manage to pass he was still well below the class average." However, "A Sgt BESSETTE did attain his 5 EX level." It went on to state that "A Sgt BESSETTE does not possess sufficient instructional potential to be considered for employment in this field. This NCO experienced considerable difficulty with a minor leadership problems. He lacked confidence and was indecisive and because of this was unable to efficiently organize his tasks. A Sgt BESSETTE failed because he lacked the necessary knowledge of a qualified Junior NCO and was unable to quickly assimilate the instruction given on this course. It is recommended that he continue in his present employment and should be encouraged to undertake a study programme in order to prepare himself for a future Senior NCO Course." Bessette returned to 1st Battalion, Canadian Guards and was disappointed with his performance in the testing process but was undeterred, as he was determined to be a Senior NCO and would better prepare for a follow-up course. He returned to Royal Canadian Army Service Corps School at Camp Borden, where he re-took the No. 56 Senior NCO Course for the next six weeks, from October 25th to December 14th. In his Course Report Form, dated December 14, 1965, he took the same courses as before but the outcome was much different. It stated that "Cpl BESSETTE came on this course determined to qualify as a Senior NCO. Although he experienced difficulty in most subjects, he worked very hard and was able to obtain passing grades in both the practical and theoretical phases of the course. Cpl BESSETTE did attain his Physical Fitness Training level. Cpl BESSETTE possesses some instructional ability but would require considerable training and experience before being suitable for employment in this field. In unplanned leadership situations, Cpl BESSETTE performs competently and with initiative and has no difficulty leading men. He sometimes becomes flustered and lacks confidence however when he is required to plan in detail." The conclusion stated that "Cpl BESSETTE is qualified and capable of assuming the duties and responsibilities of a Senior NCO." He was soon promoted to Acting Sergeant in the new year, on January 31, 1966 and later, to Sub Sergeant on May 1, 1966. While stationed at Camp Borden, he was attached to C PRO C School and HL CFMTC as various points and in 1967, stated his posting preferences as Alert and Egypt. Bessette was identified as "a responsible, reliable NCO with a good sense of loyalty to his superiors. Although somewhat impulsive with his subordinates which causes a degree of friction, he generally shows good initiative and common sense in carrying out orders and in making decisions. He is energetic in his work with a good knowledge of his trade and follows good hygiene and sanitation practices." He continued his army career, as he re-engaged for three years' service on March 31, 1969. Cook Bessette was transferred again, this time to 408 Tactical Helicopter Squadron on January 14, 1971 in Edmonton, Alberta. Although he had a record on being Absent Without Leave, his biggest indiscretion occurred on April 6, 1974. He faced disciplinary action, as a letter was sent to his Commanding Officer from Major M.S. Vacirca, B Air Ops O, 119. It stated that "On the evening of 6 Apr 74 at approximately 1745 hrs local Major Vacirea, A/D Ops ), phoned the Combined Mess to inquire if a hot meal could be prepared for delivery to Base Ops by flight line taxi. Sgt Bessette's behaviour over the phone was unbecoming of a Senior NCO. Although aware he was speaking to an officer, Sgt Bessette's language was, coarse and insulting. His attitude hostile and unco-operative. It is admissible that Sgt Bessette seemingly on loan from 408 (H) Sqn, may not be aware of normal procedures, however, his refusal to determine the propriety of the request and more important his complete lack of courtesy is inexcusable. May I add this episode is in complete contrast with the high level of professionalism I have experienced in my dealings with your staff. Your personal attention will be much appreciated." Bessette's Commanding Officer spoke to the Major and proposed to take no further action. Although Bessette was engaged for service until February 28, 1978, he filed an Application for Voluntary Release and retired from the Canadian Forces early, on November 25, 1974. Bessette died on December 13, 1977 in Woodstock, Ontario, at the age of 49 and is buried in Oxford Memorial Park Cemetery, Woodstock.