Walter Swanson had enlisted to the Army many times. He first enlisted at the start of the Second World War when he was only 12. (Supplied)

Walter Swanson had enlisted to the Army many times. He first enlisted at the start of the Second World War when he was only 12. (Supplied)

Walter Swanson first enlisted at the start of the Second World War; he was only 12

Walter Swanson was only 12 years old when the Second World War started and he watched enviously as his five older brothers all went overseas.

“I remember him telling me that he’d try to look like he had to shave so he would look older. He was militarily inclined and he wanted to be one of the boys. My grandfather said he could enlist as long as he stayed in Canada,” Swanson’s son, Wayne, said.

Walter Swanson managed to enlist in the Army in London, Ont., in March 1941, while he was still 13 and stayed in until September 1941 when it was discovered that he was underage and he was discharged. Not easily discouraged, he was back in the Army in Portage La Prairie, Man., by November 1941.

Wayne Swanson thinks his father, who died in 1988, must have been a remarkable man even as a teenager because he did a man’s work and stayed in the services almost a year that time, until October 1942.

Copies of his service history show he was discharged for being underage in Chilliwack, but by February 1943, he was back in the Army in London, Ont. The records also show he was 5-foot-seven and weighed 141 pounds and was in good health.

“He wanted to fight for Canada, to go overseas. Sometimes people are surprised when they hear about how young he was when he enlisted, but there were a lot of underage guys in the service,” Wayne Swanson said, who treasures a photograph of his father with the military issue Harley Davidson that he rode as a dispatch rider.

Walter Swanson almost made it overseas and was disappointed to be turned back the last moment and discharged again in Debert, N.S., in September 1943. He seems to have resigned himself to staying in Canada by then and married and started a family.

Still, he was drawn to the military life and enlisted again in Edmonton in 1954 and spent two years serving in Germany before he was discharged in Vancouver in 1958. His fifth enlistment was with the militia, the Irish Fusiliers in Prince Rupert, from 1960-64, where he was discharged as a Sgt.-major.

“He was always active with air cadets as a drill instructor and was a proud Legion member. November 11 was always a big day for him. If it wasn’t for the persistence and determination of men like him and so many others who did their duty, we wouldn’t be where we’re at now. The whole family is proud of him,” Wayne Swanson said.

“Remembrance Day means a lot to me and I always go to the services, it’s part of my life.”


@VernonNews
newsroom@vernonmorningstar.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

 

Walter Swanson first enlisted at the start of the Second World War; he was only 12

Just Posted

A woman wears a face mask and shield to curb the spread of COVID-19 while walking in North Vancouver, B.C., on Wednesday, January 6, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
57 new cases of COVID-19 in Interior Health region

Thirty people in the region are in hospital, 16 of whom are in intensive care

A hummingbird gives its wings a rare rest while feeding in a North Okanagan garden. (Karen Siemens/North Okanagan Naturalists Club)
Hummingbirds back for another Okanagan season

North America’s littlest birds return, and they’re hungry

The Vernon North Okanagan RCMP has released its quarterly policing report for the first three months of 2021. (Black Press file photo)
Vernon crime statistics trend upward to start 2021

North Okanagan’s two First Nations see biggest crime rise compared to first quarter 2020

Former Vernon Panthers football standout Ben Hladik of the UBC Thunderbirds (top, in a game against the Manitoba Bisons, <ins>making one of his 38 Canada West solo tackles in 2019</ins> ), was chosen in Tuesday’s 2021 Canadian Football League draft. (Rich Lam/UBC Thunderbirds photo)
B.C. Lions call on Vernon standout in CFL draft

Canadian Football League club selects former VSS Panthers star Ben Hladik in third round of league draft

(File photo)
Ex-Vernon man’s escorted-leave ‘beyond disappointing’: murder victim’s mother

Shane Ertmoed was convicted of first-degree murder in the 2000 death of 10-year-old Heather Thomas

Jose Marchand prepares Pfizer COVID-19 vaccination doses at a mobile clinic for members of First Nations and their partners, in Montreal, Friday, April 30, 2021. The National Advisory Committee on Immunization is coming under fire after contradicting the advice Canadians have been receiving for weeks to take the first vaccine against COVID-19 that they’re offered. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Trudeau says he is glad he got AstraZeneca, vaccines are only way out of pandemic

‘The most important thing is to get vaccinated with the first vaccine offered to you’

Solar panels on a parking garage at the University of B.C. will be used to separate water into oxygen and hydrogen, the latter captured to supply a vehicle filling station. (UBC video)
UBC parkade project to use solar energy for hydrogen vehicles

Demonstration project gets $5.6M in low-carbon fuel credits

FILE – A student arrives at school as teachers dressed in red participate in a solidarity march to raise awareness about cases of COVID-19 at Ecole Woodward Hill Elementary School, in Surrey, B.C., on Tuesday, February 23, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. ‘should be able to’ offer 1st dose of COVID vaccine to kids 12+ by end of June: Henry

Health Canada authorized the vaccine for younger teens this morning

A woman in the Harrison Mills area was attacked by a cougar on Tuesday, May 4. B.C. Conservation Officers killed two male cougars in the area; the attack was determined to be predatory in nature. (File photo)
2 cougars killed following attack on woman in Agassiz area

Attack victim remains in hospital in stable condition

A woman wears a face mask and shield to curb the spread of COVID-19 while walking in North Vancouver, B.C., on Wednesday, January 6, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. CDC updates info, acknowledging small respiratory droplets can spread COVID-19

Large droplets, not aerosols had been fixture of public health messaging for many months

George Ryga, considered by many as Canada’s most important English playwright lived in Summerland from 1963 until his death in 1987. He is the inspiration for the annual Ryga Arts Festival. (Contributed)
Summerland archive established for George Ryga

Renowned author wrote novels, poetry, stage plays and screen plays from Summerland home

Grizzly bear. (File)
Malakwa man bitten by grizzly bear on dog walk

The man and dogs were not seriously injured

Two cyclists traverse a closed Bernard Avenue in downtown Kelowna on June 29, 2020. (Michael Rodriguez/Capital News)
Kelowna recognized as bike-friendly city

City earns bronze in nationwide Bicycle Friendly Communities award program

Most Read