Knight's Canadian Info Collection
Knight's Canadian Info Collection


Victoria Cross Recipients

And a Footnote About Our Medal of Honor Recipients

Canada's National Flag

The Victoria Cross for Valour has been awarded to 94 Brave Canadians plus an additional 6 who are considered to be Canadians at the time of their award.(see below).

The Victoria Cross

ALGIE, Wallace Lloyd 1918Cambrai, France
BARKER, William George1918Foret de Mormal, France
BARRON, Colin Fraser1917Passchendaele, Belgium
BAZALGETTE, Ian Willoughby 1944Trossy St. Maximin, France
BELLEW, Edward Donald 1915Kerselaere, Belgium
BENT, Philip Eric 1917Polygon Wood, Belgium
BISHOP, William Avery 1917Cambrai, France
BOURKE, Roland Richard Louis 1918Ostend, Belgium
BRERETON, Alexander Picton 1918Amiens, France
BRILLANT, Jean 1918Meharicourt, France
BROWN, Harry 1917Loos, France
CAIRNS, Hugh 1918Valenciennes, France
CAMPBELL, Frederick William 1915Givenchy, France
CLARKE, Leo 1916Pozieres, France
CLARK-KENNEDY, William Hew 1918Fresnes, France
COCKBURN, Hampden Zane Churchill 1900Komati River, South Africa
COMBE, Robert Grierson 1917Acheville, France
COPPINS, Frederick George 1918Hackett Woods, France
COSENS, Aubrey 1945Mooshof, Germany
CROAK, John Bernard 1918Amiens, France
CURRIE, David Vivian 1944Falaise, France
DE WIND, Edmund 1918Groagie, France
DOUGLAS, Campbell Mellis 1867Little Andaman, India
DUNN, Alexander Roberts (*2)1854Balaclava, Crimea
FISHER, Frederick 1915St. Julien, Belgium
FLOWERDEW, Gordon Muriel 1918Bois de Moreuil, France
FOOTE, John Weir 1942Dieppe, France
GOOD, Herman James 1918Hangard Wood, France
GRAY, Robert Hampton (*4)1945Honshu, Japan
GREGG, Milton Fowler1918Cambrai, France
HALL, Frederick William 1915Ypres, Belgium
HALL, William Edward (*3)1857Lucknow, India
HANNA, Robert Hill1917Lens, France
HARVEY, Frederick Maurice Watson 1917Guyencourt, France
HOBSON, Frederick 1917Lens, France
HOEY, Charles Ferguson 1944Ngakyedauk Pass, Burma
HOLLAND, Edward James Gibson 1900Komati River, South Africa
HOLMES, Thomas William 1917Passchendaele, Belgium
HONEY, Samuel Lewis 1918Bourlon Wood, France
HORNELL, David Ernest 1944Faroes, Atlantic
KAEBLE, Joseph 1918Neuville-Vitasse, France
KERR, George Fraser 1918Bourlon Wood, France
KERR, John Chipman 1916Courcelette, France
KINROSS, Cecil John 1917Passchendaele, Belgium
KNIGHT, Arthur George 1918Villers-les-Cagnicourt, France
LEARMONTH, Okill Massey 1917Loos, France
LYALL, Graham Thomson 1918Cambrai, France
MacDOWELL, Thain Wendell 1917Vimy Ridge, France
MacGREGOR, John 1918Cambrai, France
MAHONY, John Keefer 1944River Melfa, Italy
McKEAN, George Burdon 1918Gavrelle Sector, France
McKENZIE, Hugh 1917Meetscheele Spur, Belgium
McLEOD, Alan Arnett 1918Albert, France
MERRIFIELD, William 1918Abancourt, France
MERRITT, Charles Cecil Ingersoll 1942Dieppe, France
MILNE, William Johnstone 1917Thelus, France
MINER, Harry Garnet Bedford 1918Demuin, France
MITCHELL, Coulson Norman 1918Canal de L'Escaut, France
MYNARSKI, Andrew Charles 1944Cambrai, France
NUNNEY, Claude Joseph Patrick 1918Drocourt-Queant Line, France
O'KELLY, Christopher Patrick John 1917Passchendaele, Belgium
O'LEARY, Michael 1915Cuinchy, France
O'ROURKE, Michael James 1917Hill 70, France
OSBORN, John Robert 1941Mount Butler, Hong Kong
PATTISON, John George 1917Vimy Ridge, France
PEARKES, George Randolph 1917Passchendaele, Belgium
PECK, Cyrus Wesley 1918Cagnicourt, France
PETERS, Frederick Thornton 1942Oran, Algeria
RAYFIELD, Walter Leigh 1918Arras, France
READE, Herbert Taylor 1857Delhi, India
RICHARDSON, Arthur Herbert Lindsay 1900Wolwespruit, South Africa
RICHARDSON, James Cleland 1916Somme, France
ROBERTSON, James Peter 1917Passchendaele, Belgium
RUTHERFORD, Charles Smith 1918Monchy, France
SCRIMGER, Francis Alexander Caron 1915St. Julien, Belgium
SHANKLAND, Robert 1917Passchendaele, Belgium
SIFTON, Ellis Welwood 1917Neuville-St.-Vaast, France
SMITH, Ernest Alvia “Smokey” (*1)1944River Savio, Italy
SPALL, Robert 1918Parvillers, France
STRACHAN, Harcus 1917Masnieres, France
TAIT, James Edward 1918Amiens, France
TILSTON, Frederick Albert 1945Hochwald Forest, Germany
TOPHAM, Frederick George 1945Rhine, Germany
TRIQUET, Paul 1943Casa Berardi, Italy
TURNER, Richard Ernest William 1900Komati River, South Africa
WILKINSON, Thomas Orde Lauder 1916La Boiselle, France
YOUNG, John Francis 1918Dury-Arras Sector, France

The following 4 Victoria Cross recipients were Canadians, but were serving in Other Army Units at the time of their VC act

RecipientYearLocation RegimentArmy
CRUICKSHANK, Robert Edward 1918Jordan, Palestine LondonBritish
NICKERSON, William Henry Snyder1900Wakkerstroom, South AfricaMedicalBritish
RICKETTS, Thomas (*) 1918Ledeghem, BelgiumNewfoundlandBritish
SINTON, John Alexander1916Orah Ruins, MesopotamiaMedicalIndian

(*) Newfoundland did not enter Confederation until 1949

The following 6 Victoria Cross recipients were serving with the Canadian Expeditionary Force (CEF) in WWI when awarded their VC, but were not Canadian born. They are 'considered' to be Canadians at the time of their VC act

DINESEN, Thomas1918Parvillers, FranceDanishQuebec
HUTCHESON, Bellenden1918Queant Line, FranceAmericanMedical
KONOWAL, Filip1917Lens, FranceUkranianB.C.
METCALF, William Henry1918Arras, FranceAmericanCanadian Scottish
MULLEN, George Harry1917Passchendaele, Belgium FranceAmericanPPCLI
ZENGEL, Raphael Louis1918Warvillers, FranceAmericanSaskatchewan

Please Visit our Victoria Cross Grave Site Page: Graves of VC Recipients located in Canada

Ernest Alvia “Smokey” SMITH was the only Canadian VC recipient to be presented with his medal before the award was gazetted. The presentation is reported in the London Times on 20 December 1944 the same day of the gazette notice. The Court Circular dated Buckingham Palace 19 December 1944 states that Smith had the honour of being received by the King the previous evening. The presentation on 18 December 1944 was two days before the gazettal on 20 December 1944. It was the only such early presentation in the Second World War.

Scottish born Robert Gordon McBEATH, was only 19 years old when he was awarded his Victoria Cross in Cambrai, France during the 1917 battle of the Somme, while serving with his Scottish Seaforth Highlanders Regiment. After the war (1921) he came to Canada with his wife, and settled in Vancouver, BC, where he joined the BC Provincial Police, and later the Vancouver City Police. In October 1922, Cst. McBeath was fatally shot while attempting to make a routine arrest. His ashes are buried in Mountain View Crematorium, Vancouver, BC. A Vancouver Police Marine vessel is named the "R.C. McBeath VC" in his honour.

A Victoria Cross was awarded to 20 year old Pte. Timothy O'HEA, who was a member of the 1st Batallion, Rifle Brigade (Prince Consort's Own). The Irish soldier was serving with the British Army in Danville, Quebec on June 9, 1866, when a railway car containing 2000 pounds of ammunition caught fire. He quickly took charge, opened the locked railcar, and single handedly brought the fire under control. His Victoria Cross was unusual in that it was the ONLY one awarded for bravery within Canada.

Leo CLARKE, Frederick HALL and Robert SHANKLAND all lived on the same street, Pine Street, in Winnipeg, Manitoba. It is believed to be the only street in the world to have three Victoria Cross recipients who lived there. The city of Winnipeg has now renamed the street Valour Road in honour of the three VC recipients. A bronze plaque has been mounted on a street lamp to tell this interesting story.

The 94 Canadian VC Recipients - listed by war action:

(Full citations to these awards are recorded in 1000 Brave Canadians, published by The Unitrade Press):

Prior to the South African War (4)

DUNN, Alexander Robert
HALL, William
READE, Herbert Taylor
DOUGLAS, Campbell Mellis

The South African (Boer) War (4)

COCKBURN, Hampden Z.C.
HOLLAND, Edward J.G.
TURNER, Richard E.W.

First World War (70)

ALGIE, Wallace Lloyd
BARKER, William George
BARRON, Colin Fraser
BELLEW, Edward Donald
BENT, Philip Eric
BISHOP, William Avery
BOURKE, Rowland R.L.
BRERETON, Alexander P.
BROWN, Harry
CAMPBELL, Frederick W.
COMBE, Robert Grierson
COPPINS, Frederick G.
CROAK, John Bernard
De WIND, Edmund
GOOD, Herman James
GREGG, Milton Fowler
HALL, Frederick William
HANNA, Robert
HARVEY, Frederick M.W.
HOBSON, Frederick
HOLMES, Thomas William
HONEY, Samuel Lewis
HUTCHESON, Bellenden S.
KAEBLE, Joseph
KERR, George Fraser
KERR, John Chipman
KINROSS, Cecil John
KNIGHT, Arthur George

LYALL, Graham Thomson
MacDOWELL, Thain W.
McKEAN, George Burdon
McLEOD, Alan Arnett
METCALF, William Henry
MILNE, William Johnstone
MINER, Harry G.B.
MITCHELL, Coulson N.
MULLIN, George Harry
NUNNEY, Claude J.P.
O'KELLY, Christopher P.J.
O'LEARY, Michael
O'ROURKE, Michael James
PATTISON, John George
PEARKES, George Randolph
PECK, Cyrus Wesley
RAYFIELD, Walter Leigh
ROBERTSON, James Peter
SCRIMGER, Francis A.C.
SIFTON, Ellis Wellwood
SPALL, Robert
TAIT, James Edward
YOUNG, Francis
ZENGEL, Raphael Louis

Second World War (16)

COSENS, Aubrey
CURRIE, David Vivian
FOOTE, John Weir
GRAY, Robert Hampton
HOEY, Charles Ferguson
HORNELL, David Ernest
MAHONY, John Keefer
MERRITT, Charles C.I.

OSBORN, John Robert
PETERS, Frederick Thornton
SMITH, Ernest Alvia
TILSTON, Frederick Albert
TOPHAM, Frederick George
At the going down of the sun and in the morning, we will remember them

Facts about the Victoria Cross

"It is ordained that the Cross shall only be awarded for most conspicuous bravery, or some daring or pre-eminent act of valour or self-sacrifice or extreme devotion to duty in the presence of the enemy."

The Victoria Cross is the highest decoration that can be awarded to British and Commonwealth forces.

The VC was instituted by Royal Warrant in 1856 but was made retrospective to the Autumn of 1854 to cover the period of the Crimean War. There have been several amending warrants since then.

The Victoria Cross has been bestowed 1356 times since 1854.

It can only be bestowed for actions "in the presence of the enemy" (although from 1858 to 1881 an amendment allowed for awards "under circumstances of extreme danger". Six awards were made under these conditions).

Each VC is still made by the same London jewelers, Messrs Hancocks from the bronze of Chinese cannons captured from the Russians at the siege of Sebastopol (remaining ingots of which are stored at the Army's Central Ordnance Depot at Donnington).

There is now a requirement for at least three witnesses, who must make sworn written statements as to the exact circumstances of the action involved.

It was not until 1920 that an official amendment was made allowing the VC to be awarded posthumously (after death).

Until 1977 it was the only British decoration (apart from a Mention in Despatches) that could be awarded posthumously.

It is not just a British award, but also a Commonwealth one; it was extended to members of the Colonial Forces in New Zealand and other parts of the Empire in 1867 and to the officers and men of the Indian Army in 1911.

There is no barrier of colour, creed, sex or rank (unlike many military decorations which have different types for officers and other ranks).

It has been estimated that the chance of surviving a Victoria Cross act is only 1-in-10.

The largest number of VCs won in a single day was 24 at the second relief of Lucknow on 16 Nov 1857 during the Indian Mutiny.

Fifteen men, not born British or Commonwealth citizens, have received the VC: six Americans, (including the Unknown Soldier), one Belgian, three Danes, two Germans, one Swede, one Swiss and one Ukrainian.

The ribbon was originally red for the Army and blue for the Royal Navy but when the Royal Air Force was formed in 1918 it was changed to red for all the services.

The top British units for recipients are the Royal Artillery with 51, the Royal Engineers with 41, and then the Royal Army Medical Corps and the Rifle Brigade with 27 each.

Since 1916 miniature VCs have been worn instead of the full-sized medals with evening dress or mess dress.

The Victoria Cross is still awarded only by Royal assent and is presented by the Monarch.

On the front of the VC reads the inscription "For Valour", and the hand engraved details of the recipient on the back (name, rank, number, unit and the date of the action).

Since the end of the Second World War the original VC has been awarded 13 times: four in the Korean War, one in the Indonesia-Malaysia confrontation in 1965, four to Australians in the Vietnam War, two during the Falklands War in 1982, one in the Iraq War in 2004, and one in the War in Afghanistan in 2006.

It is worth remembering that many servicemen who merited the Victoria Cross never received it because their brave actions went unnoticed, or the witnesses were killed, or whose self-sacrifice resulted in a lonely death in an unmarked grave. This is true no matter what the nationality of the person and is the reason why the tomb of a nation's unknown warrior usually has the highest gallantry decoration bestowed upon it.

The Victoria Cross for New Zealand has been awarded once, which was earned in 2004 but awarded in 2007.

The Victoria Cross for Australia was established in 1991 as the highest Australian operational gallantry medal. It supersedes the original Victoria Cross, but is physically identical and carries the same award criteria. No Australian VCs have been awarded.

Lesser awards (only in terms of the VC) for meritorious service or gallantry are: the Distinguished Service Order (DSO) and Military Cross (MC) for officers and the Distinguished Conduct Medal (DCM) and the Military Medal (MM) for other ranks. These have been awarded for deeds which earlier might have merited a VC.

May 16, 2008 - Ottawa, Ontario - Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Governor General Michaëlle Jean today unveiled Canada’s newly minted Victoria Cross medal at a formal ceremony at Rideau Hall. All future VC medals awarded to Canadians will be minted in Canada. Though the design is faithful to the original design commissioned by Queen Victoria in 1856, Canada’s Victoria Cross includes a number of small but significant Canadian design and content features. The original inscription, “For Valour,” has been changed to the Latin “Pro Valore,” on Canada’s Victoria Cross. This uses the ancient language employed by our English and French ancestors to express the universal ideal that they shared. Other uniquely Canadian elements include metal from the 1867 Confederation medal, as well as metals from each of Canada’s regions. Canada’s VC can be awarded more than once, but no one has received the award since its creation in 1993. Canada’s Victoria Cross was produced through a collaboration of the Departments of National Defence, Veterans Affairs, and Natural Resources, the Royal Canadian Mint and Rideau Hall.

Canada has also established other medals for acts of courage, bravery and valient service.

Please Visit: Victoria Cross on Wikipedia
This EXCELLENT site covers the history of the Victoria Cross and provides a complete breakdown of every man who won the supreme award for valour. It is well worth a visit.

Canadian Medal of Honor Recipients

Many Canadians realize that March 25th is celebrated all across the USA as National Medal of Honor Day. The USA recognize their heroes going back to the first ever awarding on the Medal of Honor on March 25th 1863.

But, did you know that of the 3425 MOH recipients, 60 of these heroes were born in Canada. And one - Robert Sweeney from Montreal - actual earned 2 medals. This has been repeated only 19 times in the history of the medal. Sweeney and a fellow by the name of Joseph Noil from Nova Scotia are Canada’s only 2 of about 88 MOH awardees of colour.

More than 50,000 Canadians fought on one side or the other in the American Civil War, and 34 of these earned the MOH.

As we remember the brave Americans on this day, let’s not forget our own fore-fathers of days gone by.

Let’s remember Colonel George Morgan of Saint Catherines Ontario who’s feats of bravery would still be remembered by our American friends with the naming of Camp Morgan in Bosnia in his name sake in 2000.
Let’s give thought to the adventures of Vancouver born Douglas Munro who’s bravery at Guadalcanal saved 500 marines but cost him his life. His MOH would be the only one issued, in the history of the medal, to the US Coast Guard. His grave site in WA state is now a STATE HISTORIC SITE, and a move is afoot to make it a NATIONAL historic site.
Reflect too on Charles MacGillivary and his days of heroism during the Battle of the Buldge and recall that in the history of the Medal Of Honor Society, he may well be THE ONLY Canadian to have served as its President.

We’ve produced Colonel’s and Generals and private soldiers and sailors that carried the banner and earned this most senior of US distinctions for bravery.

Something to think about and talk about to your American friends each March 25th.

Written by Bart Armstrong, CD
Victoria, BC and used with permission.

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