Kelowna sol­dier a hero but no saint

War records help fill in some of blanks in story of man who helped cap­ture 80 Ger­mans in France

The Daily Courier - - OKANAGAN - By RON SEY­MOUR

Kelowna’s for­got­ten war hero wasn’t al­ways a model sol­dier. Pte. Charles Creighton Gra­ham, who was among six Cana­di­ans to cap­ture 80 Ger­mans in the First World War, was also once re­ported AWL.

He was ab­sent with­out leave for two days at the end of Novem­ber 1918, says Keith Boehmer of the Okana­gan Mil­i­tary Mu­seum, who has re­viewed Creighton’s war records.

From the 65 pages in Creighton’s wartime file main­tained by Li­brary and Archives Canada, some other ba­sic in­for­ma­tion about him is re­vealed.

Creighton was three months shy of his 20th birth­day when he en­listed with the Cana­dian Ex­pe­di­tionary Force in Jan­uary 1916. But the at­tes­ta­tion of­fi­cer said he ap­peared to be younger, and gave Creighton’s “ap­par­ent age” as 17 years 10 months.

Creighton may have had the ap­pear­ance of youth be­cause of his height — only five feet four inches — and thin chest.

Once over­seas, Creighton was wounded twice while fight­ing in France, the first time be­ing shot in the right knee in Novem­ber 1917.

Creighton’s sec­ond in­jury, get­ting shot in the hand, came as he par­tic­i­pated in a re­mark­able act of brav­ery and courage. He and five other Cana­di­ans crawled along a drainage ditch to sneak into the Ger­man- held French town of Ble­court.

In­cred­i­bly, the small party man­aged to cap­ture 150 Ger­man pris­on­ers, largely by telling them a larger group of Cana­di­ans was about to ar­rive in the town.

While be­ing marched back to Cana­dian lines, the Ger­mans re­al­ized they vastly out­num­bered their cap­tors and that no re­in­force­ments were in fact com­ing. Dozens ran off, but Creighton and his mates still re­turned with 80 Ger­man PoWs.

For his hero­ism, Creighton re­ceived the Dis­tin­guished Con­duct Medal, sec­ond high­est to the Vic­to­ria Cross.

Creighton sailed back to Canada on June 6, 1919. But lit­tle is known about his life af­ter the war.

“Since we have been com­pil­ing data on WW 1 vet­er­ans only re­cently, based on names from the Kelowna Record news­pa­per, we know noth­ing more about him,” Boehmer says.

Creighton died in Van­cou­ver on Oct. 23, 1966, age 67. He had been mar­ried to a woman named Hilda Teal, but they were di­vorced, and it’s not clear if the cou­ple had chil­dren.

Creighton did have two sis­ters, El­iz­a­beth and Hazel, and a younger brother named Clif­ford, ac­cord­ing to 1911 cen­sus in­for­ma­tion for Kelowna. So it’s likely there are peo­ple liv­ing to­day, pos­si­bly in the city, who would be re­lated to him.

An Ot­tawa his­to­rian and au­thor is cur­rently writ­ing a book about the Cana­di­ans’ un­likely lib­er­a­tion of Ble­court.

Michel Gravel is ap­peal­ing for any­one with in­for­ma­tion about Charles Creighton Gra­ham to con­tact him so he can pro­vide a fuller pic­ture of the war hero in the forth­com­ing book. Gravel’s phone num­ber is 613-796-5882.

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