|Date of Birth||August 28, 1896|
|Place of Birth||Kenora, Ontario|
|Next of Kin||Peter Clarence Campbell (father), Salmon Arm, British Columbia|
|Trade / Calling||Bank Clerk|
|Service Record||Link to Service Record|
|Enlisted / Conscripted||Enlisted|
|Place of Enlistment||Kamloops, British Columbia|
|Address at Enlistment||Kamloops, British Columbia|
|Date of Enlistment||December 13, 1915|
|Age at Enlistment||19|
|Theatre of Service||Europe|
|Prisoner of War||No|
|Date of Death||April 9, 1917|
|Age at Death||20|
|Buried At||Givenchy Road Canadian Cemetery, Pas De Calais, France|
Lance Corporal Harold Bertram Campbell was working as a bank clerk when he enlisted in December 1915. He arrived in France a year later and died in April 1917 at the Battle of Vimy Ridge.
Harold was the oldest son of Peter Clarence Campbell and Jessie May McOuot of Salmon Arm, British Columbia. Peter was born in Dalesville, Quebec, a small town northwest of Montreal, and Jessie was from the nearby village of Brownsburg. They were married in Dalesville in 1894 and a short time later they moved to Rat Portage in northwestern Ontario, where Peter worked as a labourer and fisherman. Their first two children were born in Rat Portage (later renamed Kenora), Laura May in November 1894 and Harold Bertram on 28 August 1896. Peter’s brother was married to Jessie’s sister and they lived in Beaver, British Columbia, a small community in the mountains west of Banff. Not long after Harold’s birth his family moved west to join their relatives in Beaver. Peter worked there as a clerk and lumber shipper. His wife made a trip home to Quebec in 1898 and their next child, James McOuat, was born in Dalesville while she was there. Their last two children were born in Beaver, Philip Clarence in 1900 and Gwendolene in 1902.
By 1911 the Campbells had moved a little further southwest to Salmon Arm. Harold joined the local militia unit known as the Rocky Mountain Rangers and when he enlisted he was living in Kamloops and working as a clerk for the Bank of Hamilton. He signed up 13 December 1915, joining the 172nd Battalion which was also called the Rocky Mountain Rangers. The 172nd had just been organized and it was being recruited in the Kamloops area. After ten months of training the battalion embarked for England, leaving from Halifax in October 1916 on the SS Mauritania. After arriving in England the recruits were used as reinforcements for other battalions. Harold was one of a draft of 200 men transferred from the 172nd to the 54th (Kootenay) Battalion. He joined his new unit in France in December 1916. The 54th was in the 11th Brigade, 4th Canadian Division and that fall all four Divisions had been at the Somme Offensive. In less than three months there the Canadian Corps suffered 24,000 casualties and over the winter of 1916-17 the battalions received reinforcements to bring them back up to strength. Early in the spring they began to prepare for their next big operation, the Battle of Vimy Ridge (9-14 April 1917).
In January and February the 54th Battalion was based west of Vimy and they had several rotations in the front line. The men also formed work parties, repaired trenches and dugouts, and carried out raids and patrols. On 1 March they took part in a disastrous, poorly-planned gas attack on the Germans, suffering heavy casualties. Afterwards they received a large draft of reinforcements and on 23 March Harold was promoted to Lance Corporal. By then the men were undergoing intensive training for the upcoming attack on Vimy Ridge. The 54th Battalion moved into position on the night of 8 April and the assault began at 5:30 the next morning. From the War Diary of the 54th Battalion, Vimy Ridge, Easter Monday, 9 April 1917: ‘Weather snow & rainstorms. 5:30 am Bn attacked, – 350 all ranks in four waves behind 102nd Bn.‘
The unit was on the right flank of the 4th Canadian Division and their objective was a high point of the ridge called Hill 145. Artillery had failed to put the German machine guns out of action and the men were under heavy fire as they advanced up the slope. Their casualties that day were 24 killed, 105 wounded and 100 missing, a total of 229 or 2/3 of their battle strength. Harold was one of the men killed in action.
From his Circumstances of Death record: During the attack which resulted in the capture of Vimy Ridge he was hit in the head by a rifle bullet and killed.
Harold is buried in Givenchy Road Canadian Cemetery in Vimy Memorial Park in France. All of the burials in the cemetery are soldiers who died at the Battle of Vimy Ridge. Harold is commemorated on the War Memorial in Salmon Arm and the Bank of Hamilton War Memorial Plaque. The plaque honours members of the bank’s staff who gave their lives in the Great War.
Harold’s parents both died in Salmon Arm, his mother in 1945 at age 69 and his father in 1955 at age 82. They are buried in Mountain View Cemetery in Revelstoke, along with their son James (1898-1930).
By Becky Johnson
Grave marker photo courtesy of Canadian Virtual War Memorial, J. Stephens.