The Sidney Concert Band and conductor Bruce Ham continued their annual tradition of honouring Canadian veterans with a Sunday concert. The “Salute to Our Veterans” concert included playing of the Last Post and a traditional wreath-laying service, with members of the local Kittyhawk Air Cadets forming the Colour Party. Selections were also performed by the Saanich Peninsula Pipe Band, the Parkland Secondary School Choir and the Killer Wails Quartet.
This year, the band paid special tribute to the sacrifices made by medical personnel and by veterans of the Korean War. One such guest in attendance was local Peninsula resident, retired Lieutenant Commander Norm Anderson.
Born on Nov. 7, 1922 in the District of Clayoquot, B.C., Norm spent his formative years in Victoria. As a youngster, Norm was head chorister of the Boys Choir at Christ Church Cathedral, a member of the Boy Scouts and later the Rainbow Sea Cadet Corps, where he attained some distinction as a marksman, even competing at the national level in 1938. In September 1939 war was declared against Germany, and in October Anderson left to go to sea as a “mess-boy”. He was just shy of his 17th birthday.
Anderson officially joined the Royal Canadian Navy in January 1940. His time with the Navy was vast and impressive and impossible to fully chronicle here.
Serving on several destroyers, Anderson took part in D-Day operations, Channel sweeps against German warships, as well as convoy escort duties including the rescue of 500 survivors from two sinking troop transports.
Anderson’s part in the Korean War began in August 1952, when he was drafted to the Canadian naval destroyer HMCS Athabaskan as the gunnery instructor.
He sailed for the Korean Theatre in October 1952. While there, Anderson was employed on interdiction duties which included shore bombardment of North Korean troops, trains and supply stations, as well as escorting U.S. aircraft carriers.
In a reprieve from the grief of war, Anderson recalls a light-hearted custom that occurred during his time in Korea.
When a pilot from an aircraft carrier was rescued by another ship, that carrier rewarded the rescuer with enough ice cream to feed the entire ship’s company.
On one occasion, a U.S. airman did not land on his carrier properly; his plane hit hard, went over the side and he went with it.
The crew of the Athabaskan came to the airman’s assistance and returned him safely to the carrier.
The pilot weighed about 180 pounds, which is important to the story because as Anderson tells it, in exchange for rescuing the U.S. airman, the commanding officer of the Athabaskan is said to have demanded a “ransom” of 180 pounds of ice cream for his crew.
The band was pleased to thank Anderson and his fellow veterans for their service.
Tickets for future concerts are available online or by contacting the Mary Winspear Box Office at 250-656-0275.
—Submitted by Yvonne Kupsch