Veteran Stories:
Norm Van Tassel

Army

  • Norm Van Tassel's last days in Korea.

    Norm Van Tassel
  • Norm Van Tassel of the West Nova Scotia Regiment tends to his weapon.

    Norm Van Tassel
  • Norm Van Tassel in Korea, 1954.

    Norm Van Tassel
  • Norm Van Tassel's discharge certificate.

    Norm Van Tassel
  • This cairn memorializes Manitobans killed in Korea. Photo courtesy of Norm Van Tassel.

    Norm Van Tassel
  • Norm Van Tassel.

    Norm Van Tassel
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"We went out at nighttime, we did patrols along the DMZ, intelligence officers and platforms looking over the valley between the North and the South."

Transcript

My name is Norm Van Tassel, I'm originally from Digby, Nova Scotia, I served ten years in the Canadian Army, the 2nd Battalion, Queen's Own Rifles. During my tour of duty in Korea I went over as a driver-operator, we were the battalion that was there after the 27th of July '53, when the ceasefire took place, along with the Canadian Guards and the Black Watch. When they left we were by ourselves, and we were the last Canadian regiment that served in Korea.

 

During our tour of duty we spent a lot of time on patrols, live fire exercises, things of that nature to keep us prepared in case there was another attack from the North, and we were constantly on the defence. We often went out on live fire exercises, we did exercises that if the enemy were going to attack us, or if, in some cases, one company attacked another company, of course, under live fire you were pretty well supervised, and if you were doing an advance on to another company then of course you would cease firing long before you could do any damage to the other company.

 

We had pretty good officers at the time, that knew exactly what they were doing and I thought that they trained us properly. We had no idea that we would be the last Canadian regiment, and I guess when they brought the Canadians back home it was a rotation order and we didn't know whether they were going to replace us with somebody else or whether we were just going. At that time we knew that when the Black Watch left and the Canadian Guards left that we were the only ones there and we had a lot of territory that we had to cover to fill the gap, and we did our patrols and, of course, the were extended.

 

We went out at nighttime, we did patrols along the DMZ, intelligence officers and platforms looking over the valley between the North and the South, that kind of thing, and usually during the day there was always patrols going out.  It was a growing experience for me as a young kid, and I really appreciated the time that I was in the service. As a President of the Korean Veterans' Association in Manitoba, and I was also the chairman of the convention in 1998 and what we had done is we had built a cairn in memory of the 37 Manitobans that were killed in Korea.

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