Sid’s Western Command truck badge Photo: Teresa Vander Meer-Chasse
Sid van der Meer is an antiquarian and a storyteller; he has many wild yarns to share with his family, friends, and visitors who come to his Bordertown Garage & Museum. One particular story he tells is how he found his Western Command military vehicle badge.
Western Command military vehicles were used in the construction of the Alaska Highway, which passes through the small Yukon border-town of Beaver Creek. Some military vehicles were abandoned at military camps along the highway; van der Meer was able to find some of these.
“ There were at least three or four (vehicles),” he says. “I didn’t take any pictures but I still have the pictures in my mind.
“ Those old army trucks have been sinking in sand since ’61 when I first saw them.”
Continuing his story, van der Meer holds up the Western Command truck badge:
“ The shield is from an old army truck near the Donjek camp. That truck probably sunk into the ground now. This was the only Western Command shield on the trucks.
“ The Western Command was some sort of division.”
He turns the truck badge over to reveal the metal that was used to create it.
“ Metal was scarce during the war so they used scraps,” he says.
Van der Meer points at the back of the truck badge and says, “the shield was cut out of an old sign and painted on there, and put on the front of an old army truck.
“ The trucks are still there, can’t see them now though. There were several but they’re probably all gone now, sunk into the ground . . . no sign of them anymore.” Although these abandoned military vehicles are now long gone, van der Meer, as well as the Western Command Military Vehicles Historical Society, still remember them. The only evidence that proves the Donjek camp military vehicles were once there is the Western Command military vehicle badge, and this story.
The Western Command Military Vehicle Historical Society travelled through Beaver Creek in 2012 for the 70th Anniversary of the Alaska Highway. Van der Meer has a commemorative poster of the Western Command Convoy in his living room.
Van der Meer’s Western Command military vehicle badge as well as the Western Command Convoy poster can be viewed at Sid’s Bordertown Garage & Museum, located along the Alaska Highway in Beaver Creek, Yukon. The Garage & Museum will be open on April 1, 2015 .