Isabella Harmel, Kelowna Capital News
The compelling wartime story of an Okanagan family, immortalized through a Kelowna student, has gained provincial recognition.
Glenlyon Campbell’s name has been passed on from father to son for generations. Because of this, his actions as an artillery officer in WWII were well known within his family. Grade 8 student Finn Glenlyon Campbell was compelled to share his great uncle’s story with the rest of the world, through his writing.
For the Canadian Legion’s annual essay competition around Remembrance Day, Finn decided to immortalize the legacy of his great uncle though a short story. His story took first place in the Kelowna competition, first in the North Okanagan zone, and second overall in B.C. Now, Campbell eagerly awaits the results of the national competition.
Campbell attended Legion Branch 26 on March 18, where he was presented with a certificate and cheque for $200.
His story follows his great uncle’s journey, starting in a mechanic’s garage in Toronto and ending on the battlefields of Italy. Like many others, he enlisted in the army for the experience as well for the chance to participate in the fight for freedom and democracy under the Canadian flag.
Unfortunately, Glenlyon Campbell perished in a shell attack on the front lines during the 1944 Italian campaign. His brother, an air force pilot, was also killed during this time.
While researching for his story, Campbell was shocked at how young his uncles were, and how sad news of their deaths must have been for both his great grandfather, and Glenlyon’s wife.
Previously in 2020, Campbell was recognized locally by Legion Branch 26 for his writing. This year, he was inspired to tell Glenlyon’s in part because of a tragic fact that hit close to home; he has two brothers himself.
The opportunity to tell this story allowed Campbell to spend time with his family researching his great uncle’s story. He worked especially closed with his grandfather on the project. In light of this tragedy, Finn and his grandpa have been able to form a close bond.
“It means a lot to my dad [Finn’s grandfather]. Finn worked with my dad a lot on it, interviewing him, learning the stories,” said father Mike Campbell.
When the COVID-19 pandemic ends, Campbell hopes to visit his relatives’ graves in Germany and Italy, and pay his respects.
Through his writing, Finn hopes his great uncles’ tragic stories can show that the although these men died as soldiers fighting for their country, they were human beings first and foremost. They had wives, families and lives that they gave up before paying the ultimate sacrifice for their country.
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