Norman Anderson wasn’t even an adult when he dropped out of high school in Victoria and joined the Royal Canadian Navy.
This was just months before the Second World War broke out.
During the war he served on ships on the Murmansk Run, escorting cargo ships from North American ports through the Arctic Ocean to the Soviet Union, delivering essential supplies.
The Allied convoys were involved in many battles, resulting in a high number of casualties.
Late last month Saanich resident Anderson and three other former seamen were presented with the Arctic Star, a new honour recognizing military contributions in the Arctic Ocean during the Second World War.
“It’s nice that the Canadian government has finally recognized that there were some people who served in the Arctic during the war, and taking convoys to our Russian then-allies at the time,” he said after being presented with his award by Julian Fantino, Minister of Veterans Affairs.
The Government of the United Kingdom unveiled the honour in 2012, and recently made it available to all Commonwealth Forces.
“It has been a while coming,” Fantino said. “We’re really grateful that the British government, in their wisdom, have seen the merit and worth of recognizing the service of these four men and their important work in the Second World War.
“The Arctic Star is really a tribute and a recognition to those who may not have been on the front lines during that conflict, but nonetheless contributed greatly to the war effort.”
Anderson, along with veterans James Russell, Roland Lavallee and Edward Dallin, were the first Canadian to receive the medal last week at a ceremony at Broadmead Lodge.
“It’s exciting to see them recognized for what they did for their country,” said Chardel Farrell, Anderson’s daughter.
After the war, Anderson, now 91, spent the rest of his working life in the military, before retiring in January 1972. He now spends his days in Royal Oak, and plays golf a couple of times a week at the Royal Colwood Golf Club.
For more information on the Arctic Star or to learn how to apply for the honour, visit veterans.gc.ca.