Many historians consider the World War I Battle of Vimy Ridge Canada’s greatest military victory.
Several Summerland soldiers fought in that battle and three were killed. They were George Harwood, Joe Treffry and Ed Broad.
George Harwood (March 19, 1896 to April 9, 1917) was the son of Thomas and Mary Harwood.
The Harwoods lived in West Summerland and Thomas served on our School Board.
During enlistment, George listed his occupation as a rancher.
Fellow soldier Arthur Pentland described the last moments of George’s life. “I will never forget as long as I live, fellows I had been with for months getting killed on each side of me. How I came through I don’t know. I guess it was God’s will that I was to come through and believe me I saw some awful sights. It was certainly fierce…. George Harwood has never been seen since the morning we went over.”
George’s body was recovered and was buried with a simple cross in the first Vimy memorial.
He was 21 years old.
Joe Treffry (April 1, 1894 to April 9 ,1917) was the son of Summerland Research Station labourer John Treffry and his mother Adah.
The Treffry home still exists in Trout Creek, north of the bridge, bordering Highway 97.
Summerland’s Home Comfort Club frequently sent Summerland soldier packages of goodies, tobacco and fruit.
Joe wrote that “the people around here were surprised to know we could grow such large apples. I had been telling them about the fruit and they thought I exaggerated things, but when three apples came they were convinced.”
He was 23 years old.
Ed Broad was the oldest son of Professor William Broad and Caroline.
The Broads had moved from Calgary basically to retire.
Their orchard home still exists on the east side of Jones Flat: the unique concrete block home.
The Broads had four sons and three sons were killed in World War I. The names of the three Broad sons are not on the Summerland cenotaph. The family preferred to have a memorial at the University of Calgary.
According to Ed’s regiment command, “During the attack on Vimy Ridge, Lieutenant Broad had just left the assembly trench, when an enemy shell burst nearby, killing him instantly.
He was 24 years old.
Some Summerland soldiers survived the battle of Vimy Ridge.
One soldier of note is Bedford ‘Bob’ Tingley.
The Tingleys were early pioneers in Summerland.
Bob attended Okanagan College on Giant’s Head Mountain. He was part of the editorial board of the college publication, Lyceum.
Bob was the secretary-treasurer of the school district from 1948 to1964.
He was involved with the acquisition of Dunham Field, now used by the Summerland Middle School.
Bob wrote a diary of his experiences at Vimy Ridge.
Part of that diary includes, “historians claim that the Canadian success was greatly aided by the Germans having their reserves too far to the rear. By the time they could be moved forward for counter attack our new lines had been consolidated and we could direct the artillery on the advancing enemy. Nevertheless, in six days, the corps had advanced 4,500 yards and captured 54 guns, 104 trench mortars, 124 machine guns and 4,000 prisoners. The Canadian casualties had been 10,602 — 3598 being killed. Much glory had been won by Canada’s amateur soldiers and King George’s congratulatory message stated, ‘Canada will be proud that the taking of the coveted Vimy Ridge has fallen to her troops’.”
Another survivor of Vimy Ridge was Rene Gauchie.
Like many soldiers, Rene was too young to enlist so he “put his age up.”
The memories of the trenches of Vimy haunted Rene and later in life, Rene frequently described his Vimy experiences.
Summerland’s street naming policy includes using names from the cenotaph. Ed Broad and Joe Treffry are remembered in street names and George Harwood’s name may be used in the near future.