Remembering war in Meadow Lake

By Ben Ingram

With another D-Day anniversary come and gone, war veterans like Keith Bendall are noticing the tables at the Meadow Lake legion hall getting emptier and emptier.

“Years ago, you’d see lots of veterans and now you’re lucky if you see one,” Bendall said of his visits to the legion. “There’s not that many anymore, you know? Not around here.”

Bendall is himself a veteran of the Korean War. While anniversaries like that of June 6 may not pertain to his own experience, they’re a reminder of Canada’s disappearing past.

“Once you get out of the front-lines or head for home, everybody’s all the same,” Bendall said of his experience, shared by many fighting men and women, returning to Canada after war.

At the age of 19, Bendall enlisted in the army. After training at Fort Louis in Washington, he was sent to Korea for a year-and-a-half.

“It’s not too much to remember, but it’s something you’ll never forget,” Bendall said of war.

“We figured we’d get to Tokyo there and meet some of them pretty girls,” he said, recalling the mentality of his young self volunteering to fight.

But it wasn’t as joyful an experience as he’d hoped. During his time there he took two bullets in the leg.

“I was running on foot in a bush and I’d seen, way about half-a-mile up on big hills, some outfit shooting at me. Finally I got into the bush but they’d got me,” he said.

Bendall spent three weeks in a Tokyo hospital recovering from his injuries. After that, he was sent back to the war-torn nation.

Following his service he returned to Canada, eventually taking a government job with the department of highways until his retirement some 20 years later.

He also met his wife after the war, in North Battleford. Together they raised two sons and lived a life most would describe as normal.

But like many veterans, the war was an experience that shaped Bendall for the rest of his life.

“You dream about it at night, that’s the only thing,” he said about his ability to return to life on the homefront, carrying with him the lasting impressions of over a year at war.

“I think I remember just about every day I was there,” he said.

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