Bernhardt to attend Vimy Ridge commemoration

A Summerland veteran who participated in the D-Day landing in 1944 will be in France for a service commemorating the Battle of Vimy Ridge.

Charlie Bernhardt remembers his time during World War II. In April

Charlie Bernhardt remembers his time during World War II. In April

A Summerland veteran who participated in the D-Day landing in 1944 will be in France this spring for a service commemorating the Battle of Vimy Ridge.

The ceremony, on April 9, marks the 100th anniversary of the World War 1 battle.

From April 9 to 12, 1917, the Canadian Corps fought to take control of high ground held by the Germans.

By the time the battle was over, 3,598 Canadians had been killed and 7,004 had been wounded.

Charlie Bernhardt, who will be 96 at the ceremony, served during World War II.

He enlisted in the Canadian military in 1940, when he was 19 and served until October, 1945.

He is one of the people standing in line in the World War II photograph, Wait for Me, Daddy. The photograph was taken Nov. 1, 1940, as members of the B.C. Regiment (Duke of Connaught’s Own Rifles) were preparing to board the S.S. Princess Joan at the New Westminster CPR docks. Bernhardt is one of the soldiers farther back in the line, to the left.

Bernhardt served in Nanaimo, the Niagara Peninsula in Ontario, Nova Scotia and later in the United Kingdom.

He was with the 3rd Canadian Infantry on D-Day, June 6, 1944 and was part of the second wave of soldiers who landed that morning at 10 a.m.

After the war, Bernhardt returned to Summerland, where he worked as an orchardist.

He also served on the executive of the B.C. Fruit Growers’ Association for 12 years, including five years as its president. In addition, he served as the president for the B.C. Federation of Agriculture for two years.

He received the Queen’s Silver Jubilee medal for his service.

“You can serve in war, but you can serve in peace too,” he said.

Bernhardt said the Vimy Ridge ceremony in April will be an important commemoration.

“It’s Canada’s most significant memorial to the war and to the people who died,” he said. “It’s a really great honour to be chosen to attend.”

Bernhardt, who returned to visit Europe after the war, said the memorials and the cemeteries serve as an important reminder of war.

“I can’t go to a military cemetery without getting emotional,” he said. “War takes a terrible toll.”