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Vernon  

Vernon played an important role in training soldiers for both wars

They shall not grow old

As Canadians from Coast to Coast reflect on the sacrifices made during war time, Vernon can be proud of its long military history.

During both World Wars, Vernon hosted hundreds of soldiers at the military camp on Mission Hill as they prepared for war over seas.

Many would never see their homeland again.

The Okanagan’s local militia, the 30th BC Horse, was formed in 1908, with squadrons out of Vernon, Lumby, Coldstream, Armstrong, Enderby and Kelowna.

The camp itself was not established until 1912, when it was deemed necessary to have a permanent summer training camp for cavalry and infantry militia units in the region.

The camp would see a lot of action during the First World War and by June1914, the number of military personnel at the camp reached 2,000.

Given Vernon’s population was only 3,000 at the time, the military presence in the town was tremendous.

Especially for Vernon’s younger generations, the outbreak of the First World War was an exciting time.

Its early days were marked by concerts, balls and ice cream socials.

A large number of automobile owners donated their vehicles to the Vernon Taxi Service for trips to and from the camp.

With so many soldiers in town, local businesses were able to stock boots, socks, uniforms and rations, providing a boost to the local economy.

But when the first local contingent of soldiers was sent overseas in 1915, the war became all too real. The Vernon Patriotic Fund began collecting donations to support the families of local soldiers. Fearing a disparity in weapons between the German forces and the local military, Vernonites campaigned to raise money for the purchase of additional machine guns. 

News reached Vernon in June 1915 that local soldiers had been killed in France and the list of casualties only continued to grow. 

By the end of 1917, little remained of the festive spirit of the war’s early days. While men and women on the home front continued to fundraise for troops overseas, an atmosphere of gloom had begun to settle over the town.

The Second World War was greeted by a far more anxious crowd, many of whom remembered all too well the horrors of a few short decades ago.

This photo, taken circa 1916, shows the Canadian Mounted Rifles (the name assumed by the 30th BC Horse during the First World War), marching through downtown Vernon on their way to the military camp.

For a copy of this image or any of the museum’s other images, please contact the museum at 250-550-3140

 - with files from Gwyn Evans, Greater Vernon Museum and Archives



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