Petter Blindheim, an ailing, 94-year-old veteran’s denial of a bed in Camp Hill Veterans’ Memorial Hospital in Halifax, Canada where he wants to spend his last days, is the focus of Rex Murphy‘s recent CBC TV commentary: Point of View.(3 min)
As the last living Norwegian Vet living in Canada and as a citizen at that for 61 years (since 1945) his plight has gained national and international attention. (see background text on all this)
Blindheim’s service was recognized with 6 medals beginning with the courage under extreme pressure he showed in the Royal Norwegian Navy. While under Nazi attack and between torpedo assaults, Blindheim ran to dismantle primers from the depth charges on board so that sailors on the sinking ship would not die from their own munitions blasts.
Due to some erroneously interpreted wording of an act, and despite documentation that shows his service, the Canadian government maintains that the wartime hero served in the Merchant Navy and doesn’t qualify.
“When it comes to doing something they wish to do, governments can be really quick.” said Rex Murphy in his commentary. Other times not so much. “They can be slow, heartless or thick.”
Murphy suggests the need of ‘swift and small mercies’. He questions how a government can purport to love their veterans and bestow multiple honors recognizing their service and yet not follow through on their stance of caring.
The 3:14 segment can be viewed here and tells the service story of Blindheim’s service and how the WWII and is not being sorrowfully short- changed by government small print.
- The Royal Norwegian Navy commended Blindheim for his courage when a torpedo sank a vessel he was serving on in November 1942.
- After torpedoes struck the Montbretia, Blindheim ran to the deck and removed a primer from the depth charges he oversaw. This helped ensure they wouldn’t go off and kill fellow sailors in the water as the ship sank.
- After the war, he emigrated to Canada.
- Jens Inge Egeland, a veterans advocate in Norway, stated that the incident has been reported in Norwegian media outlets. “Norwegians are very shocked by the unfair rules by the Canadian veterans affairs over who they consider Allied veterans,” he said in an email.
- In addition, he noted that a reference in the initial refusal letter to Norway having “surrendered” in 1940 is objectionable, as most Norwegians consider that the country continued to fight Hitler’s forces through their exiled forces.