Denis "Slim" Tétreault : a life of service (by Geneviève Tétrault)

In November 2014, the Association of descendants of Louis Tétreau was pleased to receive Denis "Slim" Tétreau as part of a day to commemorate the hundredth anniversary of the outbreak of the First World War and the creation of the 22nd Royal regiment. It was an opportunity to learn about the lives of soldiers in the 22nd Royal Regiment and learning about the implication of this regiment in different areas of tension throughout the world.  

Cold War

It's during the Cold War, in 1961, which Denis enlist in the army. It's a decision he took after the death of his mother. He made his move secretly from his father with whom the relationship is difficult. He is 19 years old. The process is long, from March to June he must pass many tests. He finally signed a first commitment of 3 years in 1961, 1st of June at Longueuil, Quebec. After his training as a recruit at the Citadels of Québec, he was sent to the 22nd Royal Regiment based in Valcartier, where he made his soldier training. He quickly upgrade to the rank of Lance Corporal and can sew his first chevron, V-shaped, on each sleeve of his uniform between the elbow and shoulder. In 1965, he was transferred to West Germany at Werl, where he lived until 1967.   

The Organization of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) was created in 1949 to protect the Western Europe against any resurgence of the German National Socialism and all will of the USSR to expand. It is in this context that the 22nd Royal Regiment was at Werl. The soldiers who lived there could bring their families there. Life being what it is, between 1953 and 1993, Canadians have died there and others were born there. However, 474 Canadians are buried in Canadian sections of Werl cemetery. During his assignment in Germany, Denis was promoted to Corporal.

He made a second trip to Werl and Lahr in Germany, from 1970 to 1976, but this time he was accompanied by his wife Colette born Veilleux. Their two children were born there. During this assignment, he was promoted to Sergeant and made a member of the Military Merit. The Order of Military Merit recognizes soldiers for: exceptional service or exceptional performance in the discharge of their duties1.  


What is less known, is the Canadian participation in the Cyprus conflict in the context of the United Nations, from 1964 to 1992. Denis has been assigned twice, in 1969 and 1981 to 1982. The Turks and Greeks have lived on this small island in the Mediterranean for many centuries under the Ottoman Empire from 1572, then under British rule from 1878. In the 1930s, the Greeks asked union with Greece, the Turks opposed this and instead proposed the partition of the island. Ironically, at the time of decolonization that the situation has become more confrontational. The constitution of the new Republic expects to be led by the two national groups. However, sharing the seats of Parliament and the Government does not respect the demographic weight of national groups. The Turks, who represented 18% of the population were getting 30% of the seats. It’s not without pointing out a certain Parliament of United Canada in 1840... Soon enough, the President with Turkish origin make changes that Greek Cypriots perceive as an attack on their rights.

Confrontations then burst on the ground and the United Nations sends an intervention force from 1964. In 1974, the island is divided into two parts following an attempted Hit of 'State by the regime of the colonels in Athens (Greek capital) and the armed response of Ankara (Turkish capital). Despite many attempts to end the conflict, it is not settle to this day and a wall still separates the Greek and the Turkish side.

In 1976, Denis was repatriated to Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu, at the Recruit Training School. For three years, he will participate in the training of future soldiers and will be promoted to Warrant Officer.

In 1983, Denis is now Master warrant officer, learned English to be then posted to the Headquarters of National Defence in Ottawa. For 5 years, he worked in management and career planning, always within the forces.

Top honors

He ended his career as a Regimental Sergeant-Major, at the Citadels of Québec and then Valcartier base. During his career he has been awarded many times. As you can see from the photo, from left to right, he received the Order of Military Merit, Special Service Medal, the NATO pin, the Canadian Medal of Peacekeeping, the Medal of NATO for his two appearances in Cyprus, the Golden Jubilee Medal of Queen Elizabeth II, the Medal for the 125th Anniversary of the Canadian Federation (1992) and the decoration of the Canadian Armed Forces with a bar for 22 years and another to 32 years of loyal service.  

It’s on July 30, 1993, after 32 years and two months of dedicated service to his country and immense pride that Denis is retiring. He keeps a very good memory of all those years with his fellow soldiers. Camaraderie memories, some filthy shots but also the risks it took to keep the peace here and abroad.

Map of Chypre in Europe : 

Text from the bulletin Les Tétreau disent ... Vol 17, no 2 (octobre 2015)