Great War 100 Reads

Commemorating the centenary of the First World War in books

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Monday Monuments and Memorials – Frederick W Campbell VC and S Lewis Honey VC DCM MM, Mount Forest, ON

Two historical plaques stand guard in front of the Mount Forest Legion , 140 King St W. They honour two Victoria Cross recipients from the area.

Lt Stanley Lewis Honey

Extract from the London Gazette, No. 31108, 3 Jan 1919: For most conspicuous bravery during the Bourlon Wood operations, 27th September to 2nd October, 1918. On 27th September, when his company commander and all other officers of his company had become casualties, Lt Honey took command and skilfully reorganised under very severe fire. He continued the advance with great dash and gained the objective. Then finding that his company was suffering casualties from enfilade machine-gun fire he located the machine-gun nest and rushed it single-handed, capturing the guns and ten prisoners. Subsequently he repelled four enemy counter-attacks and after dark again went out alone, and having located an enemy post, led a party which captured the post and three guns. On the 29th September he led his company against a strong enemy position with great skill and daring and continued in the succeeding days of the battle to display the same high example of valour and self-sacrifice. He died of wounds received during the last day of the attack by his battalion.

Capt Frederick William Campbell

Extract from the London Gazette, No. 29272, 20 Aug 1915: For most conspicuous bravery on 15th June, 1915, during the action at Givenchy. Lt. Campbell took two machine-guns over the parapet, arrived at the German first line with one gun, and maintained his position there, under very heavy rifle, machine-gun and bomb fire, notwithstanding the fact that almost the whole of his detachment had then been killed or wounded. When our supply of bombs had become exhausted, this Officer advanced his gun still further to an exposed position, and, by firing about 1,000 rounds, succeeded in holding back the enemy’s counter-attack. This very gallant Officer was subsequently wounded, and has since died.

Eleven more Ontario historical plaques mark Victoria Crosses from WW1:

  • William Avery Bishop, VC 1894-1956, Owen Sound
  • Lionel Beaumaurice (Leo) Clarke, VC 1892-1916, Waterdown
  • Lance-Corp Fred Fisher, VC 1894-1915, St Catharines
  • Sgt Frederick Hobson, VC 1873-1917, Cambridge
  • Thomas William Holmes, VC 1898-1950, Owen Sound
  • Capt George Fraser Kerr, VC MC MM 1895-1929, Deseronto
  • Col Graham Thomson Lyall, VC 1892-1941, St Catharines
  • Lt-Col Thain Wendell MacDowell, VC DSO 1890-1960, Maitland
  • Corp Harry G.B. Miner, VC 1891-1918, Cedar Springs
  • Claude J.P. Nunney, VC 1892-1918, Lancaster
  • Ellis Wellwood Sifton, VC 1891-1917, Tyrconnell

A long-departed British monarch still lends her birthday for a holiday that marks the unofficial start of summer, and her name to the highest military honour awarded for valour in the face of the enemy. Victoria Day weekend – a good time to remember Campbell, Lewis and other VCs.

Gold-Wing Ranch, on the site of Camp Rathbun, the WW1 Royal Flying Corps training station near Deseronto, Ontario is hosting a centenary celebration on 10 June 2017. Details here and here.

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Monday Monuments and Memorials – Cenotaph, Pakenham, ON

Spring tulips and apple blossoms frame the cenotaph in Pakenham, Ontario at this time of year. The Celtic cross design would have been symbolic to the many Irish settlers in the area. The Pakenham Horticultural Society maintains seasonal plantings here and around the village. The cenotaph is in the Community Horticultural Park on County Road 29.

This is the Victoria Day holiday in Canada. A good time to reflect on those awarded the Victoria Cross for valour in the face of the enemy.

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Monday Monuments and Memorials – Canadians awarded the Victoria Cross, Ottawa

This plaque honours Canadians (including Newfoundlanders) awarded the Victoria Cross during the First World War. It was unveiled by Princess Anne on 10 Nov 2014, on the wall of the British High Commission on Elgin Street in Ottawa.

According to a UK government press release:

Bronze plaques were commissioned to recognise 175 Victoria Cross winners in total from 11 countries. Canada has the highest number of overseas recipients with 70. Other countries for whom plaques have been commissioned are Australia (66 Victoria Cross winners), New Zealand (16), South Africa (14), India (6), USA (5), Pakistan (3), Nepal (2), Denmark (2), Belgium (1) and Ukraine (1).

In the UK, a commemorative paving stone will be laid to honour each person in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland awarded the Victoria Cross during the First World War – 469 in all. Ceremonies will take place in the birthplace or hometown of each recipient on the anniversary of their winning the VC. Paving stones for overseas-born recipients will be unveiled at the National Memorial Arboretum in Staffordshire on 5 March 2015.

The Victoria Cross is the UK’s highest award for gallantry. It is given for most conspicuous bravery or a daring or pre-eminent act of valour or self-sacrifice or extreme devotion to duty in the presence of the enemy. Medals are made from cannons captured from the Russians during the Crimean War.