Seventy-five years after being in a tank in Second World War, Charlie Hammerton is still steady behind the wheel at 101 years old.
“I was in the tank corps, the loader and the radio operator,” said Hammerton.
The veteran celebrated his 101st birthday Jan. 9.
Born in England, in 1920, he came to Canada with his family in 1926 to Ontario, where they were given a chunk of bush land. Eventually, the family moved to a farm before moving to the town of Haileybury, Ont.
During the war he served in France, Belgium and Holland before ending up in Germany. He returned to Ontario in 1946 to marry his wife, Violet.
“When we moved, I was only a half a block from where my wife lived, and that’s how I met her,” said Hammerton. “When I joined, I never gave marriage a thought, because going to war, I didn’t want to leave her a widow. When I came back, we got married. We were married for 67 years.”
Hammerton’s father served in the British Army. Charlie’s eldest brother was unable to join due to coming down with an illness ahead of the war. His other brother joined at the same time, serving as an engineer.
After receiving his discharge in 1946, he worked with the Norton Company, then in the dairy industry, before becoming an insurance agent. Eventually, he moved to Osoyoos in 1986, before moving to Penticton in 2003.
“I’ve seen changes, since before I moved to Osoyoos, and even since I moved to Penticton. They’re changing communities, and just last night I saw that Kelowna is the fourth fastest-growing city in Canada right now. You can’t blame them when you see what weather we’ve got,” Hammerton said with a laugh.
Keeping pace with a changing world, Hammerton has adapted to the digital age, using an iPad and his computer to do his banking and reading to stay up to date with the news. He also makes sure to stay physically active too.
“I’m still very mobile, but I had to stop golfing two years ago, I suppose three this year,” said Hammerton.
In addition to golfing, he also liked to go lawn bowling, and while he was in Osoyoos, curling. Although he doesn’t do those activities anymore, he still keeps himself moving.
“In the summertime, I love to go down to Okanagan Lake and walk around down there. Not only because it’s very pretty and nice, it’s very easy, when you get tired there’s all kinds of benches to sit down. It’s just a perfect place to go.”
Hammerton is also a 65-year member of the Royal Canadian Legion where he served at times in roles as treasurer and president, and who he thanked for helping him to stay independent, a 55-year member of the Masonic Order, a volunteer for the Red Cross and he used to call out the numbers for seniors bingo in Osoyoos.
On the road to meet his friends for coffee every morning, Hammerton still passes his regular physical exams to be considered safe to drive.
“I don’t have any health problems. I only take two pills,” said Hammerton. “A little one in morning for my thyroid, and a blood pressure pill.”
The move to B.C. was to be closer to his daughter, who lives in North Vancouver, and son, who lives in Red Deer Alberta. Violet passed away six years ago.
“The biggest change and the best change for me was when I moved to British Columbia,” said Hammerton. “B.C. has been very enjoyable for me.”
Hammerton insists that he has no secret to his long life, other than his family being lucky, with his eldest sister passing away at 103, his brothers passed away at 90 and 95
“My youngest sister lives in Brampton, and she’ll be 96 in April,” said Hammerton. “I had an aunt in England who lived to 105. It’s what they call the genes, don’t ask me what that is.
“I always say, I’ve been a very lucky man. I always say, it’s alright living a long life, if you can keep your health, and you can enjoy the life as much as possible.”
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