Portrait of Howard Anderson at 16 or 17 years old, Vernon, British Columbia, 1940 or 1941.Howard Anderson
Newspaper Clipping: group of men from Gordon's Reserve who enlisted in the Army, June 14, 1941 .Howard Anderson
Howard Anderson with Governor General Adrienne Clarkson at the 60th Anniversary of D-Day landing, Juno Beach Centre, Normandy, France, June 6, 2004.Howard Anderson
Howard Anderson with his wife Denise at the Juno Beach Centre, Normandy, France, June 2004.Howard Anderson
Howard Anderson with fellow veterans at Juno Beach Centre, Normandy, France, June 2004.Howard Anderson
"At least they didn’t just look at, that you’re an Indian and you’ll just, you know, they gave you, if you were good at something, they put you there."
In 1941, our chief, who was in the First World War, went around picking up guys. He says come on, let’s join the Army. And I was following them around and I, he never asked me because I was too young. But he was asking my cousin and everybody -which me and my cousin was always chasing around together - so I followed them. And I followed them in there and I went to join the Army and the guy said, you look a little young. And the chief turned around and said, yeah, but he’s strong. And that was all that was said and I got into the Army, nothing else. Because there was seven of us from that reserve, Gordon’s, my reserve [near Punnichy, Saskatchewan], who joined the Army altogether.
Went over to D-Day soon, not too long. We didn’t go until about 10 days after [the invasion of Normany, June 6, 1944]. They had just made room for us to get our vehicles on. We made an ammunition dump and I guess the Americans thought we were too far ahead so they, they put the airplanes and shot it down. They blew it all up on us. Took us 48 hours to make the ammunition dump for the guys so they’d have ammunition all the time and the Americans blew it down on us.
But in one place, we emptied out a big place where people were living underground. And we could, it was so big that we could drive down there with our three-tonne trucks, these people. I mean, we had our bikes, these people, the guys had, and they used to drive down there and they wouldn’t come. They said, no, the Germans are still here. So we had to take one guy and take him back to the town and bring him back and say, okay, tell them what you [saw]. So he told them, he says, the Germans are all gone, the Canadians are there. Oh, okay, so they all come out. They went back and went into the town.
Yeah, they were all French people but big, oh, was it ever. There was an awful lot of people in there. I bet you we pulled out darn near a thousand people that were living in there.
The Army was good to us, really and truly. There was no discrimination really that, we were right in there, as a soldier and that’s how we were treated. I ended up as being a lance corporal. Some of the guys were sergeants, sergeant majors and whatever. At least they didn’t just look at, that you’re an Indian and you’ll just, you know, they gave you, if you were good at something, they put you there.
For me, it just taught me how in the heck to look after myself. And this has made quite a difference in my life. It was terrible to come back and find out you couldn’t even do that. You couldn’t talk to Veterans Affairs, you couldn’t bother with them, you couldn’t join the [Royal Canadian] Legion. And the Legion was fighting for us too at one time and they just got shot down. The government who said you can’t join, told us we couldn’t join. So the Legion was working that we should be able to. And they were trying to get us back to where everybody else was. But they got shot down too.