Vimy Ridge was a World War 1 Battle from April 9-12, 1917. The 4 Canadian Divisions functioned for the first time as a Corp. Their mission was to take a ridge that the French and British had failed to do. A more complete story is available at the website of the National War Museum .
More Big Hill Country remembers the residents of Cochrane and area that served during World War 1. (Page 231) Jack Tennant wrote an article about two local brothers entitled “Medic’s Diary” that follows:
Medic’s Diary offers a glimpse into First World War By Jack Tennant
John and Bill Trevenen were brothers born two years apart and both grew up in Cochrane.
Bill, the older brother, was born in 1895 and broke horses on the Cochrane Ranche as a young lad. The war to end all wars” came in 1914 and both brothers went overseas to serve with the Allied forces. Bill took the long ocean voyage to England in 1914 and John followed in 1915. Both were medics and John served with the Third Field Ambulance in the Canadian Army Medical Corps. Only Bill came home.
The brothers kept diaries and John’s 1918 entries are particularly poignant. Keep in mind the diary was written by John Trevenen nearly 90 years ago.
March 9. 1918 “Nobody can complain of a lack of sleep today as we didn’t rise until 1 p.m. We had one walking wounded in the afternoon and two in the evening.”
March 12, 1918 “Gas around which we were warned about. Had a pretty busy night. Cleared 19 cases altogether but we had wheeled stretchers which helped us greatly. Most walking cases and about five on stretchers.”
March 16, 1918 “Our squad on duty tonight and we only have two cases and one walking case in the morning. Fritz tried to pull off a raid in the evening and started a barrage. Our guns answered the SOS and cut loose pretty heavy. Fritz got stung.”
March 18, 1918 “Supposed to be a gas attack tonight. Stood out for three hours but it was a false alarm.”
March 29, 1918 (Good Friday): “Got a tin of Players from Cochrane and a cake from Mrs. Murray Hardrie.”
April 1, 1918 (Easter Monday): “Went to bed with hopes of a good night’s rest but were disturbed at 1:30 a.m. with orders to get ready to move. Such is life.”
April 14, 1918 “Germans are attacking heavily in the north and are close to Bethune. Rather serious but trust they will be stopped in time. Won a few games of checkers in the afternoon and listened to a good talk by a chaplain, Lieut. Harrison, in the evening.”
April 15, 1918 “No mail today” but he wrote five letters to family and friends. That was John Trevenen’s last day. The next entry in his diary was April 16, 1918, and it was written by Bill Trevenen: “Was killed, died of wounds. WGT.”
There is some confusion over the date of John’s death. Both the Books of Remembrance, where every Canadian casualty is listed and the Commonwealth War Graves Commission list his date of death as April 24, 1918. Chances are Bill’s diary note of death April 16 is right because it often took a few days to have combat deaths properly registered.
Bill Trevenen returned to Calgary and Cochrane and was a successful trainer of thoroughbred horses for many years.
John Fileccia is a Calgary plumber who lives in Cochrane and is the grandson of Bill. His mother Joan, Bill’s daughter, lives in Bragg Creek. Fileccia provided the diary entries.
John’s memory was served for many years with a thoroughbred racing trophy. John Trevenen’s name is carved in the Cochrane Cenotaph, but unfortunately, the last name is misspelled.