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World War one – Canada’s heroes

When Britain declared war against Germany on august 4, 1914, Canada as a part of Britain was also at war…

Canada At War

When Britain declared war against Germany on august 4, 1914, Canada as a part of Britain was also at war. On October 3, 1914 after months of training, 32,000 volunteered soldiers of the First Division set sail for England. Canadian corps got outstanding reputation as one of the most effective military formations on the Western Front, making immense contribution to the Allied victory. Soldiers would spend months in the trenches battling only for a few meters of land. It was cold, wet and death was in the air as the soldiers risked their lives. Canadians earned the respect of the Allies in the battles at Ypres, Mount Sorrel, the Somme, Passchendale Ridge, and the capture of Vimy Ridge which is considered their greatest achievement in the First World War.

Victoria Cross

The Victoria Cross is an award given to a person who shows an act of great heroism. It is the highest award that can be given to a person. The Victoria Cross was created by Royal Warrant Queen Victoria in 1854 to recognize acts of heroism during the Crimean War of 854-1855. The Victoria Cross is made from two pieces of bronze from the cannons retrieved during the Crimean War. The medal is a Maltese cross, bearing a crown surmounted by a lion, and the inscription “For Valour”. The ribbon’s color is a deep crimson.


In fall of 1917, for the first time in the war Canadian soldiers were under command by a Canadian, General Arthur Currie. They were instructed to retrieve targets outside of Passchendale. The ground was wet and marshy but they still completed the task. The mud was hard to dig through so the Canadians had small trenches and poor protection against the enemy. They got to the outskirts of Passchendale gaining 8 km of land but lost it to the Germans in a matter of months. Canadian soldiers suffered immense casualties. After the battle, 9 Canadians won the Victoria Cross.

Victoria Cross Winners

  • Algie, Wallace Lloyd (1891-1918)
  • Barker, William George (1894-1930)
  • Barron, Colin Fraser (1893-1958)
  • Bellew, Edward Donald (1882-1961)
  • Brent, Philip Eric (1891-1917)
  • Bishop, William Avery (1894-1956)
  • Bourke, Rowland Richard Louis (1885-1958)
  • Breton, Alexander Picton (1892-1976)
  • Brillant, Jean (1890-1918)
  • Brown, Harry (1898-1917)
  • Cairns, Hugh (1896-1918)
  • Campbell, Frederick William (1867-1915)
  • Clark, Leo (1892-1916)
  • Clark-Kennedy, William Hew (1880-1961)
  • Combe, Robert Grierson (1880-1917)
  • Coppins, Frederick George (1889-1963)
  • Croak, John Bernard (1892-1918)
  • De Wind, Edmund (1883-1918)
  • Dinesen, Thomas (1892-1979)
  • Fisher, Fred (1894-1915)
  • Flowerdew, Gordon Muriel (1885-1918)
  • Good, Herman James (1887-1969)
  • Gregg, Milton Fowler (1892-1978)
  • Hall, Frederick William (1885-1915)
  • Hanna, Robert (1887-1967)
  • Harvey, Frederick Maurice Watson (1888-1980)
  • Hobson, Frederick (1875-1917)
  • Holmes, Thomas William (1898-1950)
  • Honey, Samuel Lewis (1894-1918)
  • Hutcheson, Bellenden Seymour (1883-1954)
  • Kaeble, Joseph (1893-1918)
  • Kerr, George Fraser (1894-1929)
  • Kerr, John Chipman (1887-1963)
  • Kinross, Cecil John (1896-1957)
  • Knight, Arthur George (1886-1918)
  • Konowal, Filip (1887-1959)
  • Learmonth, Okill Massey (1894-1917)
  • Lyall, Graham Thomson (1892-1941)
  • MacDowell, Thain Wendell (1890-1960)
  • MacGregor, John (1888-1952)
  • McKean, George Burdon (1888-1926)
  • MacKenzie, Hugh (1885-1917)
  • McLeod, Alan Arnett (1899-1918)
  • Merrifield, William (1890-1943)
  • Metcalf, William Henry (1885-1968)
  • Milne, William Johnstone (1892-1917)
  • Miner, Harry Garnet Bedford (1891-1918)
  • Mitchell, Coulson Norman (1889-1978)
  • Mullin, George (1892-1963)
  • Nunney, Claude (1892-1918)
  • O’Kelly, Christopher Patrick John (1895-1922)
  • O’Leary, Michael (1889-1961)
  • O’Rourke, Michael James (1878-1957)
  • Pattison, John George (1875-1917)
  • Pearkes, George Randolph (1888-1984)
  • Peck, Cyrus Wesley (1871-1956)
  • Rayfield, Walter Leigh (1881-1949)
  • Richardson, James Cleland (1895-1916)
  • Ricketts, Thomas (1901-1967)
  • Robertson, James Peter (1883-1917)
  • Rutherford, Charles Smith (1892-1989)
  • Scrimger, Francis Alexander Caron (1881-1937) .
  • Shankland, Robert (1887-1968)
  • Sifton, Ellis Wellwood (1891-1917)
  • Spall, Robert (1890-1918)
  • Strachan, Harcus (1889-1982)
  • Tait, James Edward (1886-1918)
  • Train, Charles William (1890-1965)
  • Young, John Francis (1893-1929)
  • Zengel, Raphael Louis (1894-1977)

John Kerr

John Kerr was born in Fox River Nova Scotia on January 11th 1887. He was awarded the Victoria Cross on the 16th of September for his actions at Courcelette during the Somme offensive. During a bombing attack he was acting as a bayonet man, and, knowing that bombs were running short, he ran along the Parados under heavy fire until he was in close contact with the enemy, when he opened fire on them at point blank range, and inflicted heavy damage. The enemy, thinking they were surrounded, surrendered. Sixty two prisoners were taken and 250 yards of trench captured. Before carrying out this very brave act one of Private Kerr’s fingers had been blown off by a bomb. Later, with two other men, he escorted back the prisoners under fire, and then returned to report himself for duty before having his wound dressed.

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