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FOR VALOUR: Canada’s Great War Victoria Cross Recipients (Part III), Conclusion.

By Brian Pascas

Abstract: This article is the third in a series that explores the disparate number of documented Canadian Victoria Crosses (VC) awarded during the Great War. Military historians and others use varied criteria to determine a Canadian recipient. Some employ inclusive measures while others are minimalist in their requirements. The 1940s saw the genesis of divergent criteria. The study draws on primary sources as well as Canadian and British secondary literature to demonstrate that inconsistent, erroneous criteria culminated in seventy-two VC holders. The author challenges established publications, presenting the case for two categories of VC recipients: “Canadian” and “dual-allegiance”-the latter for non-Canadian Expeditionary Force recipients. Click here to read Part I, “A History of the Victoria Cross” and here for Part II, “What Defines a Canadian VC?” 

Philip Bent was born in Halifax, Nova Scotia and immigrated to the UK at a young age. His VC is held at the Royal Leicestershire Regimental Museum. Although he is considered a “true Leicestershire hero,” he has been left out of Leicestershire Great War centenary plans because he was born in Canada.[1] A 1956 article in The Legionary claims Bent had not been previously listed by National Defence Headquarters.[2] The Canadian War Records Office in 1919 knew Bent, Bourke and Cruickshank served in the Imperial forces.[3] Philip Bent is a dual-allegiance VC recipient.

Rowland Bourke immigrated to British Columbia at the age of seventeen in 1902. He mined in the Klondike and grew fruit in British Columbia, returning to England at the outbreak of war to enlist in the RNVR. Bourke came back to Canada after the war and is buried in Victoria, British Columbia.[4] As a domiciled Canadian, Rowland Bourke is a dual-allegiance VC recipient.

Robert Cruickshank was born in Winnipeg, Manitoba. His family immigrated to England when he was three. After the war, he settled in England. His widow donated his VC to the London Scottish Regimental Museum. Cruickshank Lake in Manitoba is named after him. Blatherwick places Cruickshank in the VC category “born in Canada but who did not grow up in Canada.”[5] Swettenham places Cruickshank in the category “associated with Canada.”[6] Robert Cruickshank is a dual-allegiance VC recipient.

Edmund De Wind began work at the Canadian Bank of Commerce on 13 November 1911 after immigrating to Canada in 1910. [7] He attested with the CEF while working at the Edmonton branch. In a letter home from “somewhere in France,” dated 1 November 1915, De Wind wrote that he was in the 31st Battalion’s Machine Gun section, adding: “‘Sunny Alberta’ will look mighty good again to those of us who are lucky enough to pull through.”[8] Mount De Wind in Alberta is named after him. He was discharged from the CEF on 25 September 1917 and given a commission in the Royal Irish Rifles, BEF, where he was awarded his VC. Edmund De Wind is a dual-allegiance VC recipient.

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Portrait of Michael O’Leary, awarded the Victoria Cross: France, 1 February 1915. Imperial War Museum, Q81436.

Michael O’Leary came to Canada to join the Royal North West Mounted Police (RNWMP) in Saskatchewan on 2 August 1913. He was granted a free discharge from the RNWMP on 22 September 1914 to return to Britain to enlist.[9] Pye mistakenly declares that O’Leary “was a domiciled Canadian”[10] as does the Deputy Minister (Army) H. DesRosiers.[11] O’Leary earned his VC on 1 February 1915. Recruiting posters proclaimed him “An Irish Hero! Join an Irish Regiment Today.” O’Leary moved back to Canada in 1921 and returned to England in the early thirties. The Irish Guards Museum maintains his decoration and medals. Blatherwick writes: “It is stretching it to call this a Canadian VC …”[12] although he does include him. Bishop is mistaken when he writes: “It is a moot point, perhaps, but since he was still technically serving as a Canadian law officer at the time of his decoration, surely this classifies him as a Canadian VC.”[13] Nearly three months after O’Leary’s deed, Fred Fisher of the 13th Battalion, CEF earned his decoration on 22-23 April 1915. “Fisher was the first Canadian VC …”[14] Michael O’Leary is neither a Canadian nor a dual-allegiance VC recipient.

Lieutenant Thomas Orde Lauder Wilkinson VC. Unit: 16th Battalion (Canadian Scottish), Canadian Expeditionary Force, attached to the 7th Battalion, Loyal North Lancashire Regiment. Death: 5 July 1916, Somme, Western Front. Commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial. Imperial War Museum, Q67037.

Lieutenant Thomas Orde Lauder Wilkinson VC.  Imperial War Museum, Q67037.

Thomas Wilkinson’s family immigrated to British Columbia in 1912. He joined the 16th Battalion, CEF in September 1914, but archival records for 28 January 1916 reveal “[t]he present whereabouts of this man is unknown. O/C 16th Battn says he did not proceed overseas with the Battn & Hdqts Canadians have no word of his being struck off strength.”[15] Wilkinson had joined the Loyal North Lancashire Regiment and was granted a commission in December 1914. His VC is on display at the Imperial War Museum, London. Blatherwick includes him stating “[h]owever, he did move to Canada prior to the First World War and joined the Canadian Army. Thus I believe he has as much right to be claimed as a Canadian VC as Michael O’Leary.”[16] Swettenham places Wilkinson in the category “associated with Canada by virtue of his short residence in this country.”[17] He admits that the British claim Wilkinson as one of their own VCs.[18] Thomas Wilkinson is neither a Canadian nor a dual-allegiance VC recipient.

John Sinton was born in Victoria, British Columbia in 1884. His family returned to Ulster in 1890. He was a captain in the Indian Medical Service, Indian Army. He retired and lived out his life in Cookstown, Northern Ireland. His VC is on display in the Army Medical Services Museum, Aldershot. Blatherwick erroneously listed him under the category “awarded to persons who moved to Canada after their award and died in Canada.”[19] Bishop places him in his “VC associations” category.[20] John Sinton is a dual-allegiance VC recipient.

Walter Stone, British-born, came to Canada in 1912 according to Pye, where he worked in Regina and Toronto before returning to England in September 1914.[21] His VC was conferred posthumously. Stone is neither a Canadian nor a dual-allegiance VC recipient.

Certain publications call those who “moved to Canada after their award and died in Canada”[22] Canadian VC recipients. This would include the five VC holders listed in “Table 3”. But all were awarded the VC in non-Canadian military units, and do not qualify as Canadian VC recipients based on their postwar residency as domiciled or naturalised Canadians alone. Machum excludes VC recipients who “were not Canadian nor were resident in Canada when the call came for active service.”[23] Instead, he lists them under the category “Other holders of the Victoria Cross who have lived or are living in Canada.”[24] Swettenham categorises Benjamin Geary, Henry Robson, Joseph Tombs and Charles Train as VC holders “associated with Canada.”[25] Similarly, Bishop lists Geary, Robson, Tombs, Train, Robert Ryder, Wilkinson and Canadian-born Sinton in the category “VC associations.”[26] Pye, who wrote “we shall be taken [sic] on and stricking [sic] off names continually”, objected to this category.[27] The Legionary calls them the Imperial veterans.[28]

Table 3 Postwar VC Holders

Great War VC HolderBornMilitary UnitResidency after the Great WarYears in Canada
2nd Lt. Benjamin GearyLondon, EnglandEast Surrey RegimentOntario48
Private Henry RobsonSouth Shields, EnglandRoyal ScotsToronto45
Lance Corporal Joseph TombsMelbourne, AustraliaKing's (Liverpool) RegimentToronto47
Corporal Charles TrainLondon, EnglandLondon ScottishBritish Columbia39
Lance Corporal Robert McBeathSutherland, ScotlandSeaforth HighlandersVancouver< 5 (died 1922)

Note: Thain MacDowell VC kept a list of the addresses of VC recipients in Canada. The list includes Geary, Robson, Tombs and Train.[29]

On 26 June 1920 Geary, Robson and Robert McBeath attended His Majesty’s Garden Party at Buckingham Palace for recipients of the VC. Only two CEF VC holders, Lt. Graham Lyall and Lt. George McKean were there.[30] On 9 November 1929 a VC Reunion Dinner was held in London, England. Geary, Robson, Tombs and Train were on Canada’s VC Roll of Honour of the thirty-four who were in attendance.[31] Geary, Robson and Tombs are named as living VC holders resident in Ontario.[32] In 1956, thirty-five VC recipients from Canada attended the centenary anniversary of the VC in London, of which twenty-six were Great War veterans. Geary, Robson, Tombs and Train are referred to as “Holders of the VC on Parade.”[33]

Additionally, there were two VC recipients (“Table 4”) who lived briefly in Canada after the war. Swettenham lists them as being “associated with Canada.”[34]

Table 4 Temporary VC Residents

VC RecipientBornTemporary Residency
Private Robert RyderMiddlesex, EnglandNew Brunswick
Lt. Ronald StuartLiverpool, EnglandQuebec

Note: Stuart was elected by ballot by his fellow officers for the award. Stuart’s father was born in Prince Edward Island.

 

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Major W G Barker DSO MC of No 28 Squadron in flight in a Sopwith Camel on the Italian front. Imperial War Museum, Q27239.

Air VC holders Barker, Bishop and McLeod are named in an “Awards of Victoria Cross” list of sixty-four VC holders from Cruikshank’s History of the Great War, 1914-18.[35] This booklet was reprinted from The Canada Year Book 1919. One of the earliest post-war declarations of the three air VCs is the 31 July 1919 edition of the Canadian Daily Record.[36] The service files at LAC for Bishop and Barker disclose reasons for inclusion or exclusion as CEF members. Bishop’s Record of Service reveals that he was seconded for duty with the RFC on 11 November 1916 while serving with the CEF.[37] Barker initially served with the 1st CMR, CEF. A document from the Canadian Training Division at Shorncliffe, dated 9 May 1916 confirms that he was discharged from the CEF to take a commission as 2nd Lt. in the RFC. His Record of Service states “struck off strength Overseas Military Forces of Canada, 1-5-16 on being granted a commission in the Royal Flying Corps.”[38] Consequently, Bishop remained with the CEF while Barker did not. McLeod never attested with the CEF.

A more perplexing concern is whether to classify non-CEF members Barker and McLeod as Canadian VC recipients or Canadian fighter pilots who earned their VCs while serving in the British air services. The names of Barker and McLeod were given to Currie in July 1919 along with the sixty-two members of the Overseas Military Forces of Canada (OMFC) awarded the VC.[39] In 1920, Major A.F. Duguid compiled a list of sixty-three Canadian VCs. The list includes Bishop and Barker but not McLeod.[40] Furthermore, an April 1919 edition of the Canadian Daily Record claims sixty-three Canadian VCs, including McLeod.[41] As mentioned previously, Bishop was seconded with the RFC whereas Barker was struck off strength of the CEF.[42] McLeod was instructed to attest with the Imperial Royal Flying Corps in Toronto on 23 April 1917.[43] He qualified as a pilot at Camp Borden before going overseas.[44] Due to their large presence, all “Canadians in the Royal Air Force were to be permitted to wear a Canadian badge …”[45] These three air VC recipients rendered a strong Canadian presence. Upon the awarding of his VC, Barker received many letters of congratulation including: “Please convey to Major Barker, D.S.O., M.C., R.A.F. (Canada), the following personal message by telephone to G.H.Q. from His Majesty the King …”[46] Colonel G.W.L. Nicholson, author of the official CEF history recognises “… Canada’s remaining air V.C., 2nd Lieut. A. A. McLeod, …”[47] No independent overseas Canadian air force existed, unlike Australia which maintained three Australian Air Corps squadrons on the Western Front from late 1917 to the end of the war.[48] Goodspeed includes VC holders who were “Canadians who served in the Royal Flying Corps and Royal Air Force when there was no Canadian air force.”[49] This stipulation represents the second criterion for a “Canadian” VC in this article.

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Major William George Barker VC DSO MC, the Commander of No. 28 Squadron, beside his Sopwith Camel. Photograph might be taken when he was commanding No. 139 Squadron on the Italian Front in 1918. Imperial War Museum, Q27508.

 

Within months of the Armistice, the number of Canadian troops awarded the VC was known to be sixty-four. This count included three air VCs. Canadians who fought in British military land units were not included in the VC lists sent to the Canadian Corps Commander in 1919. Divergent Canadian VC criteria emerged in the 1940s. Early in 1942 five articles on Canadian VC holders appeared in Canadian newspapers. This resulted in correspondence with the Army’s Deputy Minister DesRosiers, who claimed incorrectly that O’Leary, Stone and Vann had been domiciled Canadians. That same year, the Army Historical Section researcher Pye published his criteria for Canadian VC recipients. His “category 2”, Canadians who served in British military units, includes O’Leary, Bourke and others. The January 1956 issue of The Legionary classifies Canadian-born members of the British Forces as Canadian VC recipients, and lists seventy Great War VC holders including O’Leary, Wilkinson, De Wind, Bourke, Bent and Ricketts. Machum’s VC centennial book Canada’s V.C.’s describes seventy Canadian Great War recipients, some of whom were not domiciled residents of Canada and served in British units. He may have been influenced by Pye, as Machum acknowledged the Historical Section of DND. DHH, formerly the Army Historical Section, has always focussed on the OMFC as did CEF historians Cruikshank, Duguid and Nicholson. The deciding factor is a Canadian military uniform: a distinctive Canadian cap badge, collar badge or shoulder title, as well as identity discs marked CANADIANS or CANADA.

Accordingly, “Canadian” VC recipients are those who, regardless of citizenship, served in the OMFC (sixty-one VCs) or were Canadian-born and served in the RFC or RAF (three VCs).[50] “Dual-allegiance” VC recipients are those who were Canadian-born and served in any other British military unit (three VCs) or immigrated to and were domiciled in Canada before the war and served in a British military unit (two VCs). Without adhering to the original criteria for a Canadian VC recipient, decoration creep over the past seventy years was inevitable. VAC has recently increased the number of Great War Canadian VC recipients to seventy-three.[51]

 

“Table 5” is a summary of sixty-four “Canadian” and five “dual-allegiance” (DA) Great War VC recipients.[52] Rank is that which was held at the time that the VC feat was performed. A location in parentheses in the Place column denotes a major battle. It is acknowledged that Rickett’s VC must be credited to Newfoundland, which joined Canada in 1949.

 

Table 5 Date and Location of VC Deeds

VC RecipientPost-humous AwardDate of VC DeedPlaceCountryUnitForce
Lieutenant Wallace L. AlgieYes11-Oct-18Iwuy, NE of CambraiFrance20th BnCEF
Major William G. BarkerNo27-Oct-18NE of Forêt de Mormal, vicinity of ValenciennesFrance201 SquadronRAF
Corporal Colin F. BarronNo06-Nov-17Vine Cottages (Passchendaele)Belgium3rd BnCEF
Lieutenant Edward D. BellewNo24-Apr-15near Keerselaere, north of St. Julien (2nd Ypres)Belgium7th BnCEF
Lieutenant-Colonel Philip E. BentYes01-Oct-17east of Polygon Wood (Passchendaele)Belgium9th Bn, Leicestershire RegimentBEF 'DA'
Captain William A. BishopNo02-Jun-17Estourmel aerodrome, SE of CambraiFrance60 Squadron (seconded by CEF with RFC)RFC
Lieutenant Rowland R.L. BourkeNo9-10 May 1918Ostend harbourBelgiumHM Motor Launch 276RNVR 'DA'
Corporal Alexander P. BreretonNo09-Aug-18Hatchet Wood near Warvillers (Amiens)France8th BnCEF
Lieutenant Jean B.A. BrillantYes8-9 Aug 1918Vrély and Méharicourt (Amiens)France22nd BnCEF
Private Harry BrownYes16-Aug-17Hill 70 (near Loos)France10th BnCEF
Sergeant Hugh CairnsYes01-Nov-18brickfields and Marly, eastern outskirts of ValenciennesFrance46th BnCEF
Lieutenant Frederick W. CampbellYes15-Jun-15north of Duck's Bill, east of GivenchyFrance1st BnCEF
Corporal Leo B. ClarkeYes09-Sep-16near Walker Avenue on Pozières Ridge (Somme)France2nd BnCEF
Lieutenant-Colonel William H. Clark-KennedyNo27-28 Aug 1918Chérisy and Fresnes-Rouvroy Line (2nd Arras)France24th BnCEF
Lieutenant Robert G. CombeYes03-May-17Arleux Loop, south of AchevilleFrance27th BnCEF
Corporal Frederick G. CoppinsNo09-Aug-18Hatchet Wood near Warvillers (Amiens)France8th BnCEF
Private John B. CroakYes08-Aug-18Ring Copse, east of Hangard Wood (Amiens)France13th BnCEF
Private Robert E. CruickshankNo01-May-18North of Shunet Nimrin, east of Jordan RiverPalestine2/14th Bn, London RegimentBEF 'DA'
2nd Lieutenant Edmund De WindYes21-Mar-18Race Course Redoubt, near GrougieFrance15th Bn, Royal Irish RiflesBEF 'DA'
Private Thomas DinesenNo12-Aug-18vicinity of La Chavatte, north of ParvillersFrance42nd BnCEF
Lance-Corporal Fred FisherYes22-23 April 1915midway between Keerselaere and St. Julien (2nd Ypres)Belgium13th BnCEF
Lieutenant Gordon M. FlowerdewYes30-Mar-18NE of Bois de MoreuilFrance Lord Strathcona’s HorseCEF
Corporal Herman J. GoodNo08-Aug-18Hangard Wood (Amiens)France13th BnCEF
Lieutenant Milton F. GreggNo28-30 Sept 1918Marcoing Line, east of Bourlon Wood (Canal du Nord)FranceRCRCEF
Company Sergeant-Major Frederick W. HallYes24-Apr-15near Locality 'C', NW of Gravenstafel (2nd Ypres)Belgium8th BnCEF
Company Sergeant-Major Robert HannaNo21-Aug-17Cinnabar Trench, outskirts of Lens (Hill 70)France29th BnCEF
Lieutenant Frederick M.W. HarveyNo27-Mar-17Guyencourt, SW of CambraiFranceLord Strathcona's HorseCEF
Sergeant Frederick HobsonYes18-Aug-17near Chicory Trench, outskirts of Lens (Hill 70)France20th BnCEF
Private Thomas W. HolmesNo26-Oct-17Wolf Copse (Passchendaele)Belgium4th CMRCEF
Lieutenant Samuel L. HoneyYes27-30 Sept 1918Bourlon Wood (Canal du Nord)France78th BnCEF
Captain Bellenden S. HutchesonNo02-Sep-18Drocourt-Quéant Line, south of Dury (2nd Arras)FranceCAMC, attached to 75th BnCEF
Corporal Joseph T. KaebleYes8-9 June 1918Neuville-VitasseFrance22nd BnCEF
Lieutenant George F. KerrNo27-Sep-18near Arras-Cambrai road, north of Bourlon Wood (Canal du Nord)France3rd BnCEF
Private John C. KerrNo16-Sep-16between Zollern Graben and Fabeck Graben (Courcelette)France49th BnCEF
Private Cecil J. KinrossNo30-Oct-17Furst Farm (Passchendaele)Belgium49th BnCEF
Sergeant Arthur G. KnightYes02-Sep-18Villers-lès-Cagnicourt (Drocourt-Quéant)France10th BnCEF
Corporal Filip KonowalNo21-22 Aug 1917beyond Lens-Arras Road and Fosse #4, Lens (Hill 70)France47th BnCEF
Major Okill M. LearmonthYes18-Aug-17south of Bois Hugo (Hill 70)France2nd BnCEF
Lieutenant Graham T. LyallNo27 Sept and 1 Oct 1918Bourlon Wood (Canal du Nord)France102nd BnCEF
Captain Thain W. MacDowellNoApril 9 1917midway between the Pimple and Hill 145 (Vimy Ridge)France38th BnCEF
Captain John MacGregorNo29 Sept-3 Oct 1918Douai-Cambrai Rd and Neuville-Saint-Rémy, (Canal du Nord)France2nd CMRCEF
Lieutenant George B. McKeanNo27-28 April 1918Hussar Trench Gavrelle sector, NE of ArrasFrance14th BnCEF
Lieutenant Hugh McKenzieYes30-Oct-17hill before Meetcheele (Passchendaele)BelgiumPPCLI, seconded to 7th CMGCCEF
2nd Lieutenant Alan A. McLeodNo27-Mar-18Bray-sur-Somme, SE of AlbertFrance2 SquadronRFC
Sergeant William MerrifieldNo01-Oct-18west of Abancourt (Canal du Nord)France4th BnCEF
Lance-Corporal William H. MetcalfNo02-Sep-18 Drocourt-Quéant Line, south of Cagnicourt (2nd Arras)France16th BnCEF
Private William J. MilneYes09-Apr-17near Zwolfer Stellung in front of Thélus (Vimy Ridge)France16th BnCEF
Corporal Harry G.B. MinerYes08-Aug-18outskirts of Démuin (Amiens)France58th BnCEF
Captain Coulson N. MitchellNo8-9 Oct 1918Pont d’Aire, Canal de l’Escaut, NE of CambraiFrance4th Bn, Canadian EngineersCEF
Sergeant George H. MullinNo30-Oct-17hill before Meetcheele (Passchendaele)BelgiumPPCLICEF
Private Claude J.P. NunneyYes1-2 Sept 1918Vis-en-Artois and Mont Dury (Drocourt-Quéant)France38th BnCEF
Captain Christopher P.J. O'KellyNo26-Oct-17Bellevue Farm area on Bellevue Spur (Passchendaele)Belgium52nd BnCEF
Private Michael J. O'RourkeNo15-17 Aug 1917at Hill 70 and vicinityFrance7th BnCEF
Private John G. PattisonYes10-Apr-17eastern slope behind Hill 145 (Vimy Ridge)France50th BnCEF
Major George R. PearkesNo30-31 Oct 1917Vapour and Source Farms (Passchendaele)Belgium5th CMRCEF
Lieutenant-Colonel Cyrus W. PeckNo02-Sep-18Drocourt-Quéant Line, south of Cagnicourt (2nd Arras)France16th BnCEF
Private Walter L. RayfieldNo2-4 Sept 1918west of Villers- lès-Cagnicourt (Drocourt-Quéant)France7th BnCEF
Piper James C. RichardsonYes08-Oct-16Regina Trench (Ancre Heights, Somme)France16th BnCEF
Private Thomas RickettsNo14-Oct-18Drie-Masten, NE of LedeghemBelgiumRoyal Newfoundland RegimentBEF
Private James P. RobertsonYes06-Nov-17Passchendaele villageBelgium27th BnCEF
Lieutenant Charles S. RutherfordNo26-Aug-18Monchy-le-Preux (2nd Arras)France5th CMRCEF
Captain Francis A.C. ScrimgerNo25-Apr-15Mouse Trap Farm, near St. Julien (2nd Ypres)BelgiumCAMC, attached to 14th BnCEF
Lieutenant Robert ShanklandNo26-Oct-17Bellevue Spur (Passchendaele)Belgium43rd BnCEF
Lance-Sergeant Ellis W. SiftonYes09-Apr-17Zwolfer Stellung, just before Les Tilleuls (Vimy Ridge)France18th BnCEF
Captain John A. SintonNo21-Jan-16Orah RuinsMesopotamia (Iraq)37th DograsIMS 'DA'
Sergeant Robert SpallYes12-13 Aug 1918south of ParvillersFrancePPCLICEF
Lieutenant Harcus StrachanNo20-Nov-17north of Masnières toward Rumilly, south of CambraiFranceFort Garry HorseCEF
Lieutenant James E. TaitYes8-11 Aug 1918east of Beaucourt-en-Santerre and Hallu (Amiens)France78th BnCEF
Private John F. YoungNo02-Sep-18south of Dury (Drocourt-Quéant)France87th BnCEF
Sergeant Raphael L. ZengelNo09-Aug-18east of Warvillers (Amiens)France5th BnCEF

Notes: 1. Many publications state that Konowal was awarded his VC for his exploits from 22 to 24 August 1917.[53] But, as a member of the 47th Battalion, he attacked at Zero Hour, 4:35 a.m. on 21 August. His service file documents that he was admitted to No. 6 Casualty Clearing Station on 23 August 1917 with gunshot wounds to his face and neck[54] received late on the evening of 22 August.[55] The 47th Battalion’s handwritten war diary is confusing: Zero hour of 4:35 a.m. is dated 22 August 1917, with a question mark beside the date’s entry as well as the 23 August and 24 August war diary entries.[56]

2. The date for Honey’s VC is sometimes stated as 27 September to 2 October 1918. Honey died from his wounds on 30 September 1918.[57]

3. Some publications maintain that Pearkes’ VC deed was performed at Vapour Farm. The 5th CMR’s unit narrative for Oct 1917 discloses that Pearkes held on to both Vapour and Source farms with a small garrison, beating off counterattacks.[58]

4. Gregg’s VC action is usually dated 27 September to 1 October 1918, as taken from the London Gazette’s citation. But the attack to force the Marcoing Line was launched 28 September at 6:00 a.m. Gregg was wounded severely either 30 September or 1 October. His service file states: (a) reported from Base wounded 1.10.18. and (b) admitted to 3 General Hospital Le Tréport 1.10.18.[59] Goodspeed gives the VC date as 28 to 30 September 1918.[60]

5. Fred Fisher’s VC deed was stated in the London Gazette as 23 April 1915. His deeds of valour occurred on the night of 22 April and on 23 April.[61]

[1] Dan Martin, Leicester Mercury, 27 August 2013, “Leicestershire hero left out of World War One centenary plans,” http://www.leicestermercury.co.uk/Leicestershire-hero-left-World-War-centenary/story-19711947-detail/story.html, accessed on 28 March 2015.

[2] John Hundevad, “The V.C. Centennial,” The Legionary, January 1956, LAC.

[3] CWRO letter to Sir Edward Kemp, 15 April 1919, RG 9, III-D-1, Volume 4744, Folder 170, File 6, LAC.

[4] A new headstone was unveiled in May 2013 in the Royal Oak Burial Park, Victoria, BC. The headstone replaced a flat and dark marker. See “BC historian champions headstone campaign,” The Maple Leaf, Vol. 25, Fall 2013, 13.

[5] Blatherwick, 1000 Brave Canadians, 79.

[6] Swettenham, Valiant Men, 225.

[7] C.L. Foster (ed.), Letters From the Front: Being a Record of the Part Played by Officers of the Bank of Commerce in the Great War 1914-1919, Vol. II: Biographies (Toronto & Montreal: Canadian Bank of Commerce, c.1921), 118.

[8] C.L. Foster (ed.), Letters From the Front: Being a Record of the Part Played by Officers of the Bank of Commerce in the Great War 1914-1919, Vol. I (Toronto & Montreal: Canadian Bank of Commerce, c.1921), 63.

[9] RNWMP Discharge Certificate, RG 18-G, Volume 3544, Interim Box 352, File 5685, LAC. O’Leary served as a constable for one year and fifty-two days.

[10] Pye, Canadians or Those Serving with Canadian Units Who Have Won the Victoria Cross, LAC.

[11] H. DesRosiers, Correspondence with T. Taylor, city editor of Victoria Daily Colonist, 9 October 1942, RG 24, C-6-a, Volume 1763, File DHS-11-7, LAC.

[12] Blatherwick, 1000 Brave Canadians, 22.

[13] Bishop, Our Bravest and Our Best, 221.

[14] Roman Jarymowycz, “Montreal and the Battle of Ypres 1915: One Hundred Years,” Canadian Military History, Vol. 24, Issue 1 (2015): 357n. A CEF veteran writes that Fisher’s VC “was the first V.C. won by the Canadians.” Will R. Bird, Thirteen Years After: The Story of the Old Front Revisited (Toronto: The Maclean Publishing Company, Limited, 1932), 9.

[15] LAC, Soldiers of the First World War 1914-1918, digitized Service File: RG 150, Accession 1992-93/166, Box 10372-34 Item number: 313870. Thomas O.L. Wilkinson papers.

[16] Blatherwick, 1000 Brave Canadians, 24.

[17] Swettenham, Valiant Men, x.

[18] Swettenham in an earlier book, Canada and the First World War, rev. ed. (1969, repr., Toronto: McGraw-Hill Ryerson Limited, 1973), 55, writes “[i]n the renewed fighting, a Canadian, Lt. T.O.L. Wilkinson won the V.C. on 5 July while serving with the British Army.” O’Leary is also called a Canadian. See page 31.

[19] Blatherwick, 1000 Brave Canadians, 80.

[20] Bishop, Our Bravest and Our Best, 198.

[21] Pye, Canadians or Those Serving with Canadian Units Who Have Won the Victoria Cross, LAC. DesRosiers listed Michael O’Leary, Walter Stone and Bernard Vann incorrectly as Canadian VCs. See Correspondence with T. Taylor, paragraph 4. O’Leary, Stone and Vann are listed as “others with Canadian associations.” See CWRO letter to Sir Edward Kemp. Lt.-Col. Vann married a Canadian nursing aide.

[22] Blatherwick, 1000 Brave Canadians, 80. Pye’s third category “who later became domiciled in Canada…” also applies.

[23] Machum, Canada’s V.C.’s, Appendix B.

[24] Ibid., 204.

[25] Swettenham, Valiant Men, 223-24.

[26] Bishop, Our Bravest and Our Best, 198.

[27] Pye, Correspondence with Col. Cummins, 2 October 1942, RG 24, III-C-6-a, Volume 1763, File DHS-11-7, LAC.

[28] “For Valour,” The Legionary IV, 6, November 1929, 5.

[29] MacDowell, Addresses of VC recipients, textual record 58A 1.171.26, Control No. 19790110-082, CWM.

[30] D. Hunt and J. Mulholland, A Party Fit for Heroes: His Majesty’s Garden Party for recipients of the Victoria Cross 26th June 1920 (Sussex: The Naval and Military Press Ltd., 2007), 97-120.

[31] “For Valour,” The Legionary IV, 6, November 1929, 5.

[32] CWM, REF PAM CR 4885 V55 (1956], The Victoria Cross: 1856 – One Hundred Years of Valour – 1956.

[33] CWM, REF PAM CR 5885 G7 V5 1956, Victory Cross Centenary: Review of Holders of the Decoration by Her Majesty the Queen: Hyde Park., 26 June 1956: Souvenir Program.

[34] Swettenham, Valiant Men, 224.

[35] Cruikshank, History of the Great War, 1914-18, 66-67.

[36] Canada’s Sixty-Four V.Cs. in the Great War, 31 July 1919, RG 24, C-6-a, Volume 1763, File DHS-11-7, LAC.

[37] LAC, Soldiers of the First World War 1914-1918, William A. Bishop, digitized service file: RG 150, Accession 1992-93/166, Box 760-48, Item number 45318.

[38] LAC, Soldiers of the First World War 1914-1918, William George Barker, digitized service file: RG 150, Accession 1992-93/166, Box 435-47, Item number 24824. DesRosiers also claims Baker was not on the strength of the Canadian Forces. See Correspondence with T. Taylor, paragraph 6.

[39] See second reference in footnote 1.

[40] Major A.F. Duguid, List of Canadian V.C.’s, 16 December 1920, RG 9, III-D-2, Volume 4811, “Folder Honours & Awards & VCs,” LAC.

[41] Official List up to Nov. 15 Last, Canadian Daily Record, 26 April 1919, RG 9, III-D-1, Volume 4744, Folder 170, File 5, LAC. Missing is E. Bellew, gazetted in May 1919. Another CWRO source states the “total number of our V.C.’s is 63, 3 of these being Canadian Officers who were serving in the R.A.F.” See Number of V.C’s awarded to Canadians, 6 March 1919, RG 9, III-D-1, Volume 4744, Folder 170, File 6, LAC.

[42] Another source confirming Barker being struck off strength is Wise, Canadian Airmen and the First World War, 365. A letter in Barker’s service file dated 4 February 1920 mistakenly states that “Barker has never been taken off the strength of the C.E.F.” In April 1919 Barker submitted his resignation to the RAF because he was taken on strength as a Lt.-Col. in the OMFC. He was seconded for duty Canadian Air Force 16 May 1919.

[43] Entry to the Cadet Wing of RFC, 12 April 1917, textual record 58A 1.51.20, Control No. 19780702-056, CWM.

[44] Lt.-Col. George A. Drew, Canada’s Fighting Airmen (Toronto: The Maclean Publishing Company, Limited, 1931), 218.

[45] Report of the Ministry, 347. The Canada shoulder title in a picture of RFC Captain Fred McCall was scratched out by a censor. See Wise, Canadian Airmen in the First World War, between 329 and 330.

[46] Drew, Canada’s Fighting Airmen, 175.

[47] Nicholson, Canadian Expeditionary Force, 506.

[48] Wise, Canadian Airmen and the First World War, 50n.

[49] Goodspeed, The Armed Forces of Canada 1867-1967, 275.

[50] This is the criteria for a Canadian VC by the CWRO published in the Canadian Daily Record. See Canadian Daily Record 4 April 1919, RG 9, III-D-1, Volume 4744, Folder 170, File 5, LAC.

[51] Veterans Affairs Canada, “Orders and Decorations – Canadian Victoria Cross Recipients,” http://www.veterans.gc.ca/eng/remembrance/medals-decorations/orders-decorations/canadian-victoria-cross-recipients, accessed on 29 January 2016.

[52] The number of VC recipients who served in the CEF is sixty-two. Fifty-seven VC holders were in the four Canadian Divisions of the Canadian Corps. One VC holder was in the Canadian Engineers (CE). One was seconded with the RFC. Three served in the Canadian Cavalry Brigade. Thain MacDowell, a CEF VC holder, maintained a typescript document with the details of the sixty-two members of the CEF. See List of Canadian VC Recipients, textual record 58A 1.171.26, Control No. 19790110-083, CWM. A list compiled by the Directorate of Records, DND confirms sixty-two CEF VCs. See List of CEF Decorations, November 1929, RG 24, C-6-a, Volume 1763, File DHS-11-12, LAC.

[53] Swettenham, Valiant Men, 71. One of the earliest sources with this incorrect date is on the nominal roll sent to Currie in July 1919. See MG30 E100, Volume 3, File 8, LAC.

[54] LAC, Soldiers of the First World War 1914-1918, Filip Konowal, digitized service file: RG 150, Accession 1992-93/166, Box 5247-77, Item number 503146.

[55] Ron Sorobey, “Filip Konowal, VC: The Rebirth of a Canadian Hero,” Canadian Military History, Vol. 5, Issue 2 (1996): 48.

[56] LAC, Digitized War Diary, 47th Battalion, 22 August 1917.

[57] LAC, Soldiers of the First World War 1914-1918, Samuel Honey, digitized service file: RG 150, Accession 1992-93/166, Box 4474-51, Item number 458239.

[58] 5th CMR Summary of Operations 30-31 October 1917, RG 9, III-D-1, Volume 4707, Folder 87, File 19, LAC.

[59] LAC, Soldiers of the First World War 1914-1918, Milton Gregg, digitized service file: RG 150, Accession 1992-93/166, Box 3806-20, Item number 430345.

[60] Goodspeed, The Armed Forces of Canada 1867-1967, 276.

[61] R.C. Fetherstonhaugh (ed.), The 13th Battalion Royal Highlanders of Canada 1914-1918 (Montreal: The 13th Battalion, 1925), 54; Nathan Greenfield, Baptism of Fire: The Second Battle of Ypres (Toronto: HarperCollins Publishers Ltd., 2007), 144.



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Posted by:

Kyle Falcon

1 Comment

  1. Anthony Staunton -  September 13, 2016 - 6:11 pm 29547

    A thoughtful and informative article. I had always wondered about the increasing total of Canadian VC awards. Australia claims 100 VCs but serious articles break it down as four ‘Victoria Cross for Australia’ awards plus 96 British VC awards, 91 to members of the Australian forces and five to Australians serving in South African and British forces.

    Reply

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