Camp Hughes named national historic site
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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 25/07/2016 (2380 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
CAMP HUGHES — Around 300 people gathered at Camp Hughes Sunday as the First World War training grounds received national historic site designation.
The 60-acre national site is home to a 10-kilometre system of trenches used to train soldiers who fought in the Great War in Europe.
While the site, halfway between Brandon and Carberry had received its provincial designation as a site of significance in 1993, it took until 2012 to receive confirmation of its national designation.
“It’s been a long time coming, and we’re very happy,” said Brad Wells, vice-chairman of Friends of Camp Hughes. “And we’re just so happy with the turnout today, ’cause you never know. But everybody you talk to here has been affected somehow by these trenches.”
Friends of Camp Hughes — a committee consisting of volunteers as well as representatives from the RM of North Cypress-Langford, the Town of Carberry, Parks Canada, the Military Historical Society and CFB Shilo’s Royal Canadian Artillery Museum — decided to postpone the ceremony until this year to mark the centennial of Camp Hughes’ busiest year.
In 1916, Camp Hughes was home to nearly 40,000 soldiers and staff, making it the second-largest settlement in Manitoba at the time.
“The trenches are basically a ditch in the ground, but the stories that go with this place is the amazing part of it, because you think of the 27,000 men that went and not everybody came home,” Wells said.
“How many doctors and lawyers and politicians and farmers did we lose, out of those men? What would Manitoba have been like if those guys had lived, or there’d never been a war?” Wells wondered.
“This place is more than just trenches; this place is about stories.”
Those who gathered at the national historic site Sunday afternoon came for the stories, as well.
‘How many doctors and lawyers and politicians and farmers did we lose, out of those men? What would Manitoba have been like if those guys had lived, or there’d never been a war?’– Brad Wells, vice-chairman of Friends of Camp Hughes
As a girl, Lillian Glenn understood the shell hole in her father’s arm and the barbed wire scar down his back were tokens of his service, but didn’t express much curiosity beyond that.
Sunday, however, she visited Camp Hughes to see the training grounds for herself.
“My father trained here in the First World War with his brother before they went overseas, so I wanted to see the grounds where he trained,” Glenn said.
Her father, Ernest Kenward, and his brother John enlisted at Birtle in 1915, and fought in Europe as privates. Glenn’s father came back; her uncle did not.
“(He said) he and his brother went over the top of the trench together, and they started running, and then the next time he was able to look to his left for John, John was not there. He’d been shot — or killed. And there was no way you can go back and try to find somebody. They were ordered not to stop, so they had to continue running,” recalled Glenn of her father’s stories.
“I’m glad I came. I feel very glad to see that those sacrifices men made are being honoured in this way. They’re not being forgotten, and I think that’s really important. Don’t forget.”
— Brandon Sun
Updated on Monday, July 25, 2016 7:54 AM CDT: Adds photos