Private Jack Campbell (1889-1977), from Gilbert Plains, Manitoba, was the son of Lieutenant Colonel Glen Campbell and Harriet Burns, the daughter of Riding Mountain Ojibway Chief Keeseekoowenin. Jack’s grandfather was Hudson’s Bay Company Chief Factor, Robert Campbell.
Jack survived the unimaginable carnage that had taken place on the Western Front in 1917. From Vimy Ridge to Hill 70 and then Passchendaele, he remained standing while far too many of his fellow warriors in the 107th Battalion fell. Jack dealt with the extra burden of his father’s death at Passchendaele.
Jack had no serious physical injuries, but his emotional well-being was a different story. By December 1917, he could no longer perform his assigned tasks. Burdened by night terrors and bouts of delirium, he couldn’t sleep for more than a few minutes at a time. Barely able to eat, Jack had lost thirty pounds from his thin, six-foot-five-inch frame.
In January 1918, Jack was sent home to recover from the shell shock he had suffered since surviving Hill 70. The army officials still thought enough of his service to promote him to Lieutenant after returning to Canada. A post-combat medical exam revealed he was blind in one eye and had somewhat limited vision in his other eye. Jack’s sight problems had started long before the war.
Lieutenant Campbell spent the remainder of 1918 with the army reserve in Winnipeg. His father’s death precluded Jack from returning to university and completing the Pharmacy degree he started a few years before the war. There was a ranch to run in Gilbert Plains.
In 1942, Jack moved to Victoria, B.C. He worked in the shipyards for two years, followed by a twenty-five-year career as a master carpenter.
Jack never spoke of his war experience. Any personal effects left over from the war, except for one photo, had long been discarded before he moved to Victoria.
A pigskin football from his time with the Winnipeg Tammany Tigers was on a shelf in one corner of his workshop. On the opposite end was his old baseball mitt. Jack kept two photos above his workbench. One was of his father in his trademark Stetson, watching over his son as he had done in life. The other was of Jack’s fellow warriors from his Company in the 107th Battalion.
At some point the glass protecting the picture had been broken, and the spider-web-like crack grew more extensive with time. The frame separated in one corner, and the picture faded. The constant nightmares that took Jack back to a terrible war never faded. With all its flaws, the photo meant more to Jack than anything he built in his workshop. It remained a tattered reminder of the only people who would have fully understood what he had been through in 1917.
Submitted by Glen Campbell
Grandson of Lieut. Jack Campbell