John Collia was born June 20, 1893 in Cosenza, Italy. He immigrated to the United States and then came to Canada around 1907, along with his father, Santo, three sisters and a nephew. John’s brother, Bruno Collia was already living in Revelstoke.
John Collia enlisted December 20, 1915 with the 172nd Battalion at Kamloops, B.C. He was 22 years old, single, 5’ 7” tall, with black hair and brown eyes. His religious affiliation was Roman Catholic. At the time of his enlistment John was working for the CPR.He had been with the 102nd RMR for the previous 16 months. It appears that he had previously tried to join up at the beginning of the war but instead was put on bridge guard duty.
John Collia died on April 9, 1917 at the battle for Vimy Ridge. He was 24 years old. At the time of his death he was a Private in the 54th Battalion Canadian Infantry (Central Ontario) Regiment. His regimental number was 687049. He is buried at the Canadian Cemetery No. 2 in France. A group of Revelstoke Secondary School students visited some of the war cemeteries during a Canadian Battlefields tour in Europe in 2013, and they visited John Collia’s grave and left a memorial prepared by a family member.
John’s death was recorded in the Revelstoke Review of May 17, 1917:
“Word was received by Mr. Bruno Collia that his brother, Private John Collia, was wounded on April 3, and died April 9. Born in Italy 24 years ago, he came to Canada from the United States about 10 years ago. Shortly after the war broke out he enlisted with the 102nd RMR and served as a bridge guard for some months. Wishing to serve the country of his adoption more effectively he enlisted with the 172nd battalion, but was transferred in England to another Canadian battalion (54th). Private Collia was a son of Santo Collia and a brother of Bruno Collia, section foreman out of Revelstoke on the south branch. Two sisters are also left to mourn his loss. “
John’s brother Bruno lived in Revelstoke until his death at the age of 101. Bruno has many descendants still living in Revelstoke.
John Collia’s name is inscribed on the Courthouse and Cenotaph plaques.