By Dave Snyder
To know a person is to know his story. To know veterans stories is to glean a sliver of understanding of not only the person but the life and times of that fine generation.
H.S. Kenyon MM (1895-1990)
Long time respected Penticton citizen H. S Kenyon MM was a soldier, Prisoner of War and Veteran of the First World War.
Upon incarceration he refused to work. and was sent to cells. After four unsuccessful attempts, the name-sake of Kenyon Park at the south end of Skaha Lake was successful in escaping. One of 99 successful Canadian escapees in the Great War, Syd Kenyon MM was a personification of bold courage and initiative.
Robert Alexander ‘Butch’ Barton (1919-2010)
Born in Kamloops, Robert Alexander ‘Butch’ Barton OBE, DFC, lived in Penticton, attended Vernon Prep School and Shawnigan Lake School before he joined the RAF in 1936.
A pilot during the Battle of Britain, by September 1940 he commanded a squadron. In 1941, his squadron was ordered to Malta where Barton accounted for the squadron’s first victory, downing an Italian bomber. Five days later he destroyed another bomber, this time at night. At first light he returned again to search for the downed Italian crew, which he sighted. They were all rescued. After a career in the RAF, Wing Commander Barton retired to Hedley, to enjoye three decades of rest, retirement and fishing.
Henry Arthur ‘Butch’ Smitheram (1918-1982)
Born on the Penticton Indian Reserve, Henry Arthur ‘Butch’ Smitheram CM served with the B.C. Dragoons in Britain, Italy and Northwest Europe.
A skookum soldier, Seargent Henry recommended him for a decoration for an action in May ‘44, when he left his immobilized tank, and then crossed 300 yards to inform Troop Officer, Lt. McKinnon, that a self-propelled gun had approached behind his troop. McKinnon’s gunner drove that enemy away.
Henry lost his rank several times during the war, and the final time was in early April ‘45 during a prisoner interrogation when the Olalla-Keremeos sergeant stopped a British officer pistol from whipping a German officer. Appreciating Smitheram’s soldierly virtue, in June 45 Lt Col H.H. Angle DSO approved his substantial rank and recommended him for a decoration.
In January 1982 it was announced that H. A. Smitheram was to be invested in Canada’s top public honour The Order of Canada for his post war work promoting multicultural work with many ethnic groups including First Nations and Metis.
Ken Barwise (1929-2008)
After serving in the Merchant Navy during World War Two, Ken Barwise MM was a career soldier. In Korea he served with the 2nd Battalion, Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry at Kapyong. Barwise was decorated for bravery. Re-badging to the RC Service Corps, the ‘Big Guy’ later known as the ‘Gentle Giant’ served across Canada.
One hot, humid, summer, after noon in the 60s, at Base Borden’s Men’s Mess a newly arrived black soldier sat alone at lunch. Without provocation, stocky mouth (aka) jerk soldier approaches lone eater and loudly belittled new-guy. New Guy-stands, then stares wide eyed as stocky-bully is lifted up, from behind (by his shirt and pants) carried to open window and thrown out on the adjacent lawn. Cpl. Barwise MM returned to his meal. The new guy never had another ‘social-problem’ in the Royal Canadian Service Corps.