PLF Return to Labrador

By Capt Lake
For the second straight year the Princess Louise Fusiliers have conducted winter training in Central Labrador. On 6 February 1998, A Company with attachments from 33 Medical Platoon and a 10-man tent group from 1st Bn Nova Scotia Highlanders arrived in Goose Bay, Labrador. As the ramp of the Hercules aircraft dropped, the company was greeted by the mild temperature of -20° Celsius.
On the tarmac, the company rendezvoused with members of the Goose Bay Ranger Patrol under the command of Lt Joe Anderson. The Goose Bay Rangers had most recently instructed members of the British Army's Parachute Regiment on winter survival techniques, and they were looking forward to our Exercise "Scarlet Toboggan" with the PLF.
Without time to acclimatize the dismounted company immediately moved several kilometers into the training area. At the bivouac site, setting up tents in the dark, in deep snow with snowshoes on took a little longer than normal but the company proved it was up for the challenge.
The next morning, under the expert instruction of the Rangers, the soldiers built a variety of survival shelters including snowhouses. wigwams and lean-to's. The Rangers demonstrated fire-starting techniques as well as where to place the fire to give maximum warmth to the shelter. Instruction and demonstration was also given on methods of snaring and killing wild animals in a winter survival situation. The company was then treated to a meal of raw caribou, smelts and seal meat. WO Pyle Digs In
The afternoon was perhaps the most enjoyable for the soldiers as the Rangers let them drive their snowmobiles. By the end of the day, most soldiers had had plenty of experience recovering snowmobiles trapped in soft snow or stranded on the side of steep hills. A medic with the company demonstrated how to quickly dismount a ski-doo with a forward roll. The temperature in the evening dropped to -50° Celsius and everyone practiced the art of keeping warm.
On the final day of the exercise, the company was able to practice its rifle marksmanship skills in the freezing temperatures of -63° Celsius. The range practice, designed by Queen's Medal winner WO Mike Gray, had soldiers firing in snowshoes from 25, 100 and 200m from the prone, kneeling and standing positions. Lt Anderson and Cpl Tony Howell of the Rangers (both experienced members of the Atlantic Ranger Rifle Team with .303 Enfield rifles) fired with the last relay and proved to be fine marksmen with the C7 rifle, ranking high in the company standings.
At the end of the exercise, the company formed up and Capt Lake, OIC Exercise, thanked the Rangers on behalf of the company and presented Lt Anderson with a plaque as a token of appreciation. The exercise was a great success, and our soldiers developed new confidence in their equipment and training, and in their personal abilities to survive and perform in extreme cold. Capt Lake presents plaque to Lt Anderson
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