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Creston Valley Goes to War

Percy Watson

Watson and Crookston Embarking

Percy Watson, left, and John Crookston embarking with the 230th Forestry Battalion at Creston, BC

Sports Day

Program for an International Sports Day hosted by the Forestry Corps on 1 July 1918.

Percy Watson lived with his parents on a fruit ranch in Creston. In addition to his work on the ranch and his occupation as a carpenter, he may also have helped his father and brothers operate a canning factory. 

Watson had two brothers already in service. Stanley enlisted in November 1914 with the 7th Canadian Infantry Battalion and was wounded at St. Julien in April 1915 and again at Vimy Ridge in April 1917. Reginald, who enlisted in May 1915, served first with the 54th Kootenay Battalion and then transferred to the Field Engineers.

Percy enlisted with the 230th Forestry Battalion at almost the earliest opportunity, on 30 January 1917. He was appointed Sergeant even before the battalion left Creston, and retained that rank overseas.

Watson's service with the 41st Company evidently gave him plenty of opportunities to interact with the citizens of France. His son, Jack Watson, wrote, "He and John Crookston ran a sawmill in Brittany with an all-French crew. In the process, he polished his schoolboy French so that in later life he could pass for a Frenchman with a Brittany accent - which he frequently did."

No doubt, social and recreational opportunities, such as the Sports Day hosted by the Forestry Corps in July 1918, also helped Watson perfect his French accent. It was a day of international camaraderie that drew 25,000 spectators and raised 3,000 francs for the French Red Cross.