Chief Warrant Officer (Master Gunner) Errol Eric Patrick CD was born in Montreal, Quebec, on 27 April 1930. He grew up in Trinidad under the care of his grandfather before returning to Canada at age sixteen to Surrey, British Columbia, where he graduated from Queen Elizabeth Secondary School in 1949.
In August 1950, against his father’s advice, he enrolled in the Canadian Army intending to prove that he could plot his own path in life. He had planned to fight in the Korean War and then return to civilian life and attend university. Instead, he served with distinction for thirty-five years in The Royal Regiment of Canadian Artillery, reaching the rank of Chief Warrant Officer and filling for five years the appointment of senior non-commissioned advisor to the Director of Artillery.
Following recruit training at the Royal Canadian School of Artillery (RCSA) in Shilo, Gunner Patrick was posted to 2 RCHA. He served with both that Regiment and 1 RCHA in Korea, from January 1952 to March 1953. He regarded his wartime service as demanding work yet greatly rewarding. He was grateful to the seasoned veterans of the Second World War in his battery, who taught him how to survive on the battlefield. In a recorded interview with Veterans Affairs Canada (https://www.veterans.gc.ca/eng/video-gallery/video/8908), he recalled using sub-standard equipment and ammunition recovered from the sea; the hazards posed by landmines; the difficulty of digging gun pits in rocky terrain; the art of “scrounging” for required supplies; the rigours of the harsh climate; and, the intensive firing of the Commonwealth Division’s artillery in support of the defence of Hill 355 (“Little Gibraltar”) against attacking Chinese and North Korean forces.
In 1953, after his return from Korea, Gunner Patrick joined 1st Light Battery (Para), RCA (later redesignated Z Battery 1 RCHA), where he earned his parachute wings and was promoted sergeant.
He also served with 1 RCHA in Germany, at Hemer, from 1957-60 before returning to the RCSA for the arduous year-long Assistant Instructor-in-Gunnery (AIG) Course. Sergeant Patrick spent six years as an AIG in Shilo until 1966, when he was promoted Staff Sergeant and posted back to 1 RCHA for a further three years in Hemer. During this time he advanced to Warrant Officer Class II (WO2) and was appointed a Battery Sergeant Major.
Returning to Canada in 1969, he served with both 2 RCHA and 4 RCHA in Petawawa before his promotion to CWO in 1972 and attendance on the Master Gunner Course, after which he assumed the appointment of RSM of 3 RCHA in Shilo.
From 1975-79, he served as Sergeant Major Instructor-in-Gunnery (SMIG) at the Artillery School in Gagetown before completing his career in Ottawa as life cycle manager of the M109A1 howitzer fleet 1979-80 and CWO Artillery (RSM RCA) from 1980-85.
After he retired from the Army in 1985, Mr. Patrick worked for the Department of Public Works as a building inspector. He was also active in the Royal Canadian Legion, serving in various executive roles, including President, in Branch No. 632. He was known for his advocacy of veterans’ welfare and his devotion to the significance of Remembrance Day and the Poppy Fund. “Every day is Remembrance Day”, he would say.
A Korean War veteran, a paratrooper, a member of four RCHA regiments, an Assistant Instructor-in-Gunnery, a Master Gunner, and three times an RSM, Mr. Patrick did indeed chart a remarkable path through life. Along the way, his diligence, skillfulness, leadership, and gentlemanly ways earned him the profound respect and admiration of his comrades. He blazed a trail for Black Canadians wishing to serve the guns of The Royal Regiment and set an enduringly admirable example for all members of The Regiment by virtue of his soldierly merit, dignified character, and devotion to his fellow Gunners, his Regiment, his community, and his country.
Chief Warrant Officer (Master Gunner) E.E. Patrick died in Ottawa on 5 January 2021 at the age of ninety, having lived a full, accomplished, proud and meaningful life. His memory will live on as one of Canada’s Great Gunners.