He turned to the Canadian Legion and was advised to apply to Veterans' Affairs in Vancouver, which he did, one cold rainy afternoon in April 1992. Taking with him his medals, discharge papers and a letter of the kind most Commonwealth ex-servicemen had received from the King of England, he stood patiently and dripping wet, waiting until his turn came to state his case to the clerk behind the counter.
“I’m sorry,” said the young man, politely but firmly, shaking his head. “South Africa was never in the war!”
AN APOLOGY WOULD DO A GREAT DEAL TO ASSUAGE THE HURT
Tom Warder did not give up readily. His immediate need was great, but what was more important, his pride had been stung. He tried repeatedly to have his medals, discharge papers and other records of active service recognized. They were deemed to be inadequate, however, on the grounds that, although the month and the year were given, the exact dates of arrival and departure from war zones, for example, South West Africa (now Namibia), Oran and Malta, were not specified. Six weeks after his first visit to Veterans’ Affairs in Vancouver, in a greatly weakened state but determined to have his evidence validated, he managed, by utilizing his airline privileges, to make it back to South Africa. He followed up correspondence, sent ahead by him from Canada, with a personal visit to the records office in Pretoria. From there the necessary documentation was mailed to Canada, but he did not live long enough to know the outcome. He died in South Africa on July 9, 1992. Relevant documents were recently found among his personal papers; too late for his case to be resolved. One official document shows that his records had indeed been received; however, despite the numerous letters I have written to the department of Veterans' Affairs, asking only for an apology, after all these years his file is still marked "Pending!"