Ken Byron Sr

ken byron sr

Ken Byron Sr. was a man of honour.  He would be the last to say it.  In fact, he questioned my use of the phrase as an appropriate title for the book I wrote about him.  But in the dozens of visits and interviews that went into its preparation between 2007 and 2009, it was one of the first things I noted.  Ken Byron Sr. IS a man of honour, no doubt about it.

I’d arrive at Ken’s home on Epron Road on Salt Spring Island for our usual Sunday afternoon get together and, if there was the slightest possibility I had misconstrued what he had told me the week before, he’d have a note on it and that would be the first thing we’d talk about.

Several examples come to mind.  When he first told me about the incident where he stepped into a barn’s cesspit near Ede in Belgium, he had said he would have shot the first man to come over the hill. He was quick to correct this, concerned with setting me straight and making sure I understood that he, nor any of the troops he commanded, was that kind of man.

Another incident that occurred in battle was when enemy machine gunners opened fire and wounded three of their own soldiers.  The following week, Ken was very sure that I understood that this would never happen in an Allied command, particularly HIS command.

The third event is more subtle; the court-martialing of two NCO’s that had stolen cigarettes destined for the troops.  By his description, I could tell this event shook Ken to the core, in fact he calls it the worst thing he witnessed in his 35-year military career.

And finally, being chosen to attend the Black Watch Regimental Changing of the Colours in Montreal while serving with NATO, with the Queen Mother presiding, was a great honour for him.  That he was the one to give the command-to-the-troops in the March Past was icing on the cake.  I can hear him now,  EYES LEFT…EYES FRONT!

Ken Byron Sr. was twice written up in the Victoria Times Colonist newspaper, and other papers numerous times. “I never talked about my years in Service,” Ken says.  Now in my book I want to let people know what really happened in my life.”

At this point, Ken says, “I don’t like publicity.”

“Well,” I tell him, “You’re probably going to get a little!”

Then Ken says: “Roger, go over to the sideboard and get your glass.  Bring mine too; it’s there by the radio.  Now, there by the sink is a bottle of the best Port money can buy.  Pour yourself two fingers, and one finger for me.