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Legion Exec - Tom - IG

Meet a Veteran – Tom Gardener

Meet a Veteran - Tom Gardener

Legion Exec - Tom - IGTom was born in England and joined the British Army in 1953 at the age of 20, as part of conscription following the Second World War.  He joined the Royal Engineers as a Reservist, and served for two years stationed in Dartmouth UK and Germany. He completed his basic training at Southwood Camp near Farnborough.

He joined the Royal Monmouthshire Royal Engineers Reserves (known then as the Militia), which was formed in 1539 during the reign of King Henry VIII, making it the second oldest regiment of the British Army. He then moved to the Royal Engineer Reserves in Weston-Super-Mare as part of his compulsory service until the reorganization of the British Army Reserves when he went to 3 Troop in Bristol.

He worked his way up to Staff Sargent, then became Sargent Major of 100 Squadron in Newport for three years, which is the maximum term for that role. During this time he travelled to Germany to join exercises with other branches of the British Armed Forces.

Tom immigrated to Canada with his wife Rosemary after his son (also a Veteran) had moved to BC, and joined the Maple Ridge Legion in 2012. He joined the Colour Party, and was soon made Sargent at Arms for our branch, and served in that role until 2023. He is now part of the Executive in charge of funerals and is the Cadet Liaison Officer, and continues to lead the Honour Guard for the celebration of life that is available for all Veterans.

In his younger days, Tom played rugby and soccer, and in summer played cricket. He still likes to watch these sports on TV. He is a keen gardener and grows lots of veggies in his garden. He is also a great cook!  He has three sons, two still in UK, four grandchildren, and two great grandchildren. You'll also find Tom visiting his beloved wife of sixty four years, Rosemary, every other day in the care home where she now lives.

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John Vanderelst 1

Meet a Veteran – John Vanderelst

Meet a Veteran - John Vanderelst

John Vanderelst 1John has been a member of the Royal Canadian Legion since 1988 when he joined the Dominion Command Legion 003 in Germany. He is the Service Officer for the Maple Ridge Legion, and has served in this position for the last 12 years.

John’s first exposure to the military was 2 years  of  compulsory cadet service in his early teens in his hometown in Ontario. This program originated in WWI and was terminated in the schools in the mid 1960’s.

He later joined the Canadian Armed Forces Infantry  (1 PPCLI) in 1971. He completed basic training in Gagetown NB, and then served for 15 years based in Calgary AB. He was Infantry for the first 6 years, then spent the next 26 years in Logistics Finance. After this he spent a further 6 years in the Army Reserves  working in finance with the Cadets in Vernon BC summer program.

During his long career he spent time with NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization), and spent 6 months in the Middle East. He was stationed at a radar base in Sioux Lookout, Northern Ontario, and then in Geilenkirchen, Germany from 1987-1990.

He retired in Vancouver BC (rank of Warrant Officer). He likes to dabble in the Stock Market, listen to audio books, and play Euchre, where he says his teammates are very kind to him and let him ‘cheat’ due to his failing eyesight.

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