Canada’s Last 100 Days of the Great War

1st Canadian Division Final Order of the Day. 1918.

Final Order of the Day. 1st Canadian Division.
Circa November 1918.

Near to an ending?

The passing days of centenary have provided several opportunities to pause and think upon celebration, commemoration, reconciliation. Now near to the end, those of us who have chosen to venture into the marshes of conflict must come to terms with 100 years plus one, plus two and so on. Although centenaries provide an impetus for examination, the study does not have to end November 12, 2018…there is still more to do…places to go…much to learn. And so, I ask myself how many of you might venture into these marshes and find your peace perhaps at 100, or 101 or 102?

The last 100 Days of Canada’s Great War commenced at Amiens, France 8 August 1918 culminating with the armistice at Mons, Belgium 11 November 1918. In 100 days, 28 soldiers of the Canadian Expeditionary Force became recipients of the Victoria Cross for valour. However, Canada’s Great War is not measured by honours alone…there were thousands who wore the bronze badge of Canada who served equally without honours and who returned home to find their own new dawn and sunset. And how can we ever let go of those who loved and were loved and remain our reminder of too many early dawns and sunsets.

Still there are more, the bands of brothers and sisters of the Canadian home-front whose volunteers found time, in their 24 hours, to provide linens for bandages…time to knit…apples to pick for soldier convalescents, a letter to write…a family to care for….and not just their own, but in this marsh of hurt…the family next door whose hurt that Great War day and for many days has remained their connection to this war to end all wars.

It is not too much to remember them. There is no ending.

The Victoria Cross during Canada’s 100 Days

John Bernard Croak VC

Inscription on Commonwealth War Graves Commission Headstone

8 August 1918*
Private  John Bernard Croak VC
In the vicinity of Hangard Wood, France
13th Battalion CEF (Royal Highlanders of Canada)
3rd Infantry Brigade, 1st Canadian Division
Buried at Hangard Wood British Military Cemetery

For most conspicuous bravery in attack when having become separated from his section he encountered a machine gun nest, which he bombed and silenced, taking the gun and crew prisoners. Shortly afterwards he was severely wounded, but refused to desist.

Having rejoined his platoon, a very strong point, containing several machine guns, was encountered. Private Croak, however, seeing an opportunity, dashed forward alone and was almost immediately followed by the remainder of the platoon in a brilliant charge. He was the first to arrive at the trench line, into which he led his men, capturing three machine guns and bayonetting or capturing the entire garrison.

The perseverance and valour of this gallant soldier, who was again severely wounded, and died of his wounds, were an inspiring example to all.

(Supplement to the London Gazette, 27 September 1918, page 11430)


Herman Good VC8 August 1918
Corporal Herman James Good VC
In the vicinity of Hangard Wood, France
13th Battalion CEF (Royal Highlanders of Canada)
3rd Infantry Brigade, 1st Canadian Division

For most conspicuous bravery and leading when in attack his company was held up by heavy fire from three enemy machine-guns, which were seriously delaying the advance. Realising the gravity of the situation, this N.C.O. dashed forward alone, killing several of the garrison, and capturing the remainder.

Later on, Cpl. Good, while alone, encountered a battery of 5.9-inch guns, which were in action at the time. Collecting three men of his section, he charged the battery under point-blank fire and captured the entire crews of three guns.

(Supplement to the London Gazette, 27 September 1918, page 11430)


8 August 1918*
Corporal Henry (Harry) Garnet Bedford Miner VC
Rifle Wood and near Demuin, France
58th Battalion CEF (Central Ontario Regiment)
9th Infantry Brigade, 3rd Canadian Division
Buried at Crouy Military Cemetery, Crouy-Saint Pierre, France

For most conspicuous bravery and devotion to duty in attack, when despite severe wounds he refused to withdraw. He rushed an enemy machine-gun post single-handed, killed the entire crew and turned the gun on the enemy.

Later, with two others, he attacked another enemy machine-gun post, and succeeded in putting the gun out of action.

Cpl. Miner then rushed single-handed an enemy bombing post, bayoneting two of the garrison and putting the remainder to flight. He was mortally wounded in the performance of this gallant deed.

(Supplement to the London Gazette, 26 October 1918, page 12670)


Jean Brillant VC MC8 – 9 August 1918*
Lieutenant Jean Baptiste Arthur Brillant VC MC

East of Meharicourt, in the vicinity of Boiry-Becquerelle, France
22nd Battalion CEF (Canadians Francais)
5th Infantry Brigade, 2nd Canadian Division
Buried at Villers-Bretonneux Military Cemetery, Fouilloy, France

For most conspicuous bravery and outstanding devotion to duty when in charge of a company which he led in attack during two days with absolute fearlessness and extraordinary ability and initiative, the extent of the advance being twelve miles.

On the first day of operations shortly after the attack had begun, his company’s left flank was held up by an enemy machine gun. Lt. Brillant rushed and captured the machine-gun, personally killing two of the enemy crew. Whilst doing this, he was wounded but refused to leave his command.

Later on the same day, his company was held up by heavy machine-gun fire. He reconnoitered the ground personally, organised a party of two platoons and rushed straight for the machine-gun nest. Here 150 enemy and fifteen machine-guns were captured. Lt. Brillant personally killing five of the enemy, and being wounded a second time. He had this wound dressed immediately, and again refused to leave his company.

Subsequently this gallant officer detected a field gun firing on his men over open sights. He immediately organised and led a “rushing” party towards the gun. After progressing about 600 yards, he was again seriously wounded. In spite of this third wound, he continued to advance for some 200 yards more, when he fell unconscious from exhaustion and loss of blood.

Lt. Brillant’s wonderful example throughout the day inspired his men with an enthusiasm and dash which largely contributed towards the success of the operations.

(Supplement to the London Gazette, 27 September 1918, pp. 11429 and 11430)

Resting place of Jean Brillant VC MC.

At Villers-Bretonneux Military Cemetery,
the grave of Jean Brillant VC MC.
(Image by P. Ferguson, September 2013)

Translation of Headstone Inscription:  Son of Joseph Brillant. Enlisted voluntarily at Rimouski, Province of Quebec. Fell gloriously on the soil of his ancestors. Good blood cannot lie.


AP Brereton VC9 August 1918
Acting Corporal Alexander Picton Brereton VC
East of Amiens, France
8th Battalion CEF (“Little Black Devils” – Winnipeg Rifles)
2nd Infantry Brigade, 1st Canadian Division

For most conspicuous bravery during an attack, when a line of hostile machine-guns opened fire suddenly on his platoon which was in an exposed position and no cover available. This gallant N.C.O. at once appreciated the critical situation and realised that unless something was done at once the platoon would be annihilated. On his own initiative, without a moment’s delay and alone he sprang forward and reached one of the hostile machine-gun posts, where he shot the man operating the machine gun and bayoneted the next one who attempted to operate it, whereupon nine others surrendered to him.

Cpl. Brereton’s action was a splendid example of resource and bravery, and not only undoubtedly saved many of his comrades’ lives, but also inspired his platoon to charge and capture the five remaining posts.

(Supplement to the London Gazette, 27 September 1918, page 11430)


F. Coppins VC9 August 1918
Corporal Frederick George Coppins VC
Hatchet Woods near Amiens, France
8th Battalion CEF (“Little Black Devils” – Winnipeg Rifles)
2nd Infantry Brigade, 1st Canadian Division

For conspicuous bravery and devotion to . duty when, during an attack, his platoon – came unexpectedly under fire of numerous machine guns. It was not possible to advance or to retire, and no cover was available. It became apparent that the platoon would be annihilated unless the enemy machine guns were silenced immediately. Cpl. Coppins, without hesitation, and on his own initiative, called on four men to follow him and leapt forward in the face of intense machine-gun fire. With his comrades he rushed straight for the machine guns. The four men with him were killed and Cpl. Coppins wounded. Despite his wounds he reached the hostile machine guns alone, killed the operator of the first gun and three of the crew, and made prisoners of four others, who surrendered.

Cpl. Coppins, by this act of outstanding valour, was the means of saving many lives of the men of his platoon, and enabled the advance to be continued. Despite his wound, this gallant N.C.O. continued with his platoon to the final objective, and only left the line when it had been made secure and when ordered to do so.

(Supplement to the London Gazette, 27 September 1918, page 11430)


R.L. Zengel VC MM9 August 1918
Sergeant Raphael Louis Zengel VC MM
East of Warvillers, France
5th Battalion CEF (Western Cavalry)
2nd Infantry Brigade, 1st Canadian Division

For most conspicuous bravery and devotion to duty when protecting the battalion right flank. He was leading his platoon gallantly forward to the attack, but had not gone far when he realised that a gap had occurred on his flank, and that an enemy machine gun was firing at close range into the advancing line. Grasping the situation, he rushed forward some 200 yards ahead of the platoon, tackled the machine-gun emplacement, killed the officer and operator of the gun, and dispersed the crew. By his boldness and prompt action he undoubtedly saved the lives of many of his comrades.

Later, when the battalion was held up by very heavy machine-gun fire, he displayed much tactical skill and directed his fire with destructive results. Shortly afterwards he was rendered unconscious for a few minutes by an enemy shell, but on recovering consciousness he at once continued to direct harassing fire on the enemy.

Sjt. Zengel’s work throughout the attack was excellent, and his utter disregard for personal safety, and the confidence he inspired in all ranks, greatly assisted in bringing the attack to a successful end.

(Supplement to the London Gazette, 27 September 1918, page 11430)

[The 5th Battalion CEF was an unmounted unit of infantry and not cavalry].


[Happy Memories]
James Edward Tait VC MC
Inscription on Commonwealth War Graves Commission Special Memorial

J.E. Tait VC MC11 August 1918*
Lieutenant James Edward Tait VC MC
Advance on Hallu, France
78th Battalion CEF (Winnipeg Grenadiers)
12th Infantry Brigade, 4th Canadian Division
Commemorated on Special Memorial at Fouquescourt British Cemetery, France

For most conspicuous bravery and initiative in attack. The advance having been checked by intense machine-gun fire, Lt. Tait rallied his company and led it forward with consummate skill and dash under a hail of bullets. A concealed machine gun, however, continued to cause many casualties. Taking a rifle and bayonet, Lt. Tait dashed forward alone and killed the enemy gunner. Inspired by his example his men rushed the position, capturing twelve machine guns and twenty prisoners. His valorous action cleared the way for his battalion to advance.

Later, when the enemy counter-attacked our positions under intense artillery bombardment, this gallant officer displayed outstanding courage and leadership, and, though mortally wounded by a shell, continued to aid and direct his men until his death.

(Supplement to the London Gazette, 27 September 1918, page 11429)


T. Dinesen VC12 August 1918
Private Thomas Fasti Dinesen VC
Parvillers, France
42nd Battalion CEF (Royal Highlanders of Canada)
7th Infantry Brigade, 3rd Canadian Division

For most conspicuous and continuous bravery displayed during ten hours of hand-t0-hand fighting, which resulted in the capture of over a mile of strongly garrisoned and stubbornly defended enemy trenches.

Five times in succession he rushed forward alone, and single-handed put hostile machine guns out of action, accounting for twelve of the enemy with bomb and bayonet. His sustained valour and resourcefulness inspired his comrades at a very critical stage of the action, and were an example to all.

(Supplement to the London Gazette, 26 October 1918, page 12670)


To the valour of their Countrymen in the Great War
And in memory of their sixty Thousand dead this monument Is raised by the people of Canada
Robert Spall VC

Inscription on the Vimy Memorial

13 August 1918*
Sergeant Robert Spall VC
Near Parvillers-le-Quesnoy, France
Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry
7th Infantry Brigade, 3rd Canadian Division
Commemorated on the Vimy Memorial, France

For most conspicuous bravery and self-sacrifice when, during an enemy counter-attack, his platoon was isolated. Thereupon Sjt. Spall took a Lewis gun and, standing on the parapet, fired upon the advancing enemy, inflicting very severe casualties. He then came down the trench directing the men into a sap seventy-five yards from the enemy. Picking up another Lewis gun, this gallant N.C.O. again climbed the parapet, and by his fire held up the enemy. It was while holding up the enemy at this point that he was killed.

Sjt. Spall deliberately gave his life in order to extricate his platoon from a most difficult situation, and it was owing to his bravery that the platoon was saved.

(Supplement to the London Gazette, 26 October 1918, page 12670)


Charles Smith Rutherford VC MC MM

Charles Smith Rutherford VC MC MM in later years. (Newspaper clipping).

26 August 1918
Lieutenant Charles Smith Rutherford VC MC MM
Near Monchy, France
5th Canadian Mounted Rifles
8th Infantry Brigade, 3rd Canadian Division

For most conspicuous bravery, initiative and devotion to duty. When in command of an assaulting party Lt. Rutherford found himself a considerable distance ahead of his men, and at the same moment observed a fully armed strong enemy party outside a “Pill Box” ahead of him. He beckoned to them with his revolver to come to him, in return they waved to him to come to them. This he boldly did, and informed them that they were prisoners. This fact an enemy officer disputed and invited Lt. Rutherford to enter the “Pill Box” an invitation he discreetly declined. By masterly bluff, however, he persuaded the enemy that they were surrounded, and the whole party of 45, including two officers and three machine guns, surrendered to him.

Subsequently he induced the enemy officer to stop the fire of an enemy machine-gun close by, and Lt. Rutherford took advantage of the opportunity to hasten the advance of his men to his support.

Lt. Rutherford then observed that the right assaulting party was held up by heavy machine-gun fire from another “Pill Box.” Indicating an objective to the remainder of his party he attacked the “Pill Box” with a Lewis gun section and captured a further 35 prisoners with machine guns, thus enabling the party to continue their advance.

The bold and gallant action of this officer contributed very materially to the capture of the main objective and was a wonderful inspiration to all ranks in pressing home the attack on a very strong position.

(Supplement to the Edinburgh Gazette, 19 November 1918, page 4254)


W.H. Clark-Kennedy VC CMG DSO and Bar27-28 August 1918
Lieutenant Colonel William Hew Clark-Kennedy VC CMG DSO and Bar
Fresnes-Rouvroy Line, France
24th Battalion CEF (Victoria Rifles)
5th Infantry Brigade, 2nd Canadian Division

For most conspicuous bravery, initiative and skillful leading on the 27th and 28th August, 1918 when in command of his battalion.

On 27th August he led his battalion with great bravery and skill from Crow and Aigrette trenches in front of Wancourt to the attack on the Fresnes-Rouvroy line. From the outset the brigade of which the 24th Battalion was a central unit, came under very heavy shell and machine-gun fire suffering many casualties, especially amongst leaders. Units became partially disorganized and the advance was checked. Appreciating the vital importance to the brigade front of a lead by the centre, and undismayed by annihilating fire, Lt.  Col. Clark-Kennedy by sheer personality and initiative inspired his men and led them forward. On several occasions he set an outstanding example by leading parties straight at the machine-gun nests which were holding up the advance and overcame these obstacles.

By controlling the direction of neighbouring units and collecting men who had lost their leaders, he rendered valuable services in strengthening the line, and enabled the whole brigade front to move forward.

By the afternoon, very largely due to the determined leadership of this officer and disregard for his own life, his battalion, despite heavy losses, had made good the maze of trenches west of Cherisy and Cherisy Village, had crossed the Sensee River bed, and had occupied Occident Trench in front of the heavy wire of the Fresnes-Rouvroy line; under continuous fire he then went up and down his line until far into the night, improving the position, giving wonderful encouragement to his men, and sent back very clear reports. On the next day he again showed valorous leadership in the attack on the Fresnes-Rouvroy line and Upton Wood. Though severely wounded soon after the start he refused aid and dragged himself to a shell-hole, from which he could observe. Realizing that his exhausted troops could advance no further he established a strong line of defence and thereby prevented the loss of most important ground. Despite intense pain and serious loss of blood he refused to be evacuated for over five hours, by which time he had established the line in a position from which it was possible for the relieving troops to continue the advance.

It is impossible to overestimate the results achieved by the valour and leadership of this officer. 

(Supplement to the Edinburgh Gazette, 17 December 1918, pp. 4581 – 4582)


CJP Nunney VC DCM MM1 – 2 September 1918*
Private Claude Joseph Patrick Nunney VC DCM MM
Drocourt-Quéant Line in the vicinity of Vis-en-Artois, France
38th Battalion CEF (Royal Ottawa Battalion)
12th Brigade, 4th Canadian Division
Buried at Augbiny Communal Cemetery Extension, France

For most conspicuous bravery during the operations against the Drocourt-Quéant Line on Sept. 1st and 2nd September 1918.

On 1st September, when his battalion was in the vicinity of Vis-en-Artois, preparatory to the advance, the enemy laid down a heavy barrage and counter-attacked. Pte. Nunney, who was at this time at company headquarters, immediately on his own initiative proceeded through the barrage to the company outpost lines, going from post to post and encouraging the men by his own fearless example. The enemy were repulsed and a critical situation was saved. During the attack on 2nd September his dash continually placed him in advance of his companions, and his fearless example undoubtedly helped greatly to carry the company forward to its objectives.

He displayed throughout the highest degree of valour until severely wounded.

(Supplement to the London Gazette, 14 December 1918, pp. 14779-14780)

Grave of Claude Joseph Patrick Nunney VC DCM MM.

Grave of Claude Joseph Patrick Nunney VC DCM MM at Aubigny Communal Cemetery Extension, France.
(P. Ferguson image, September 2010)

[Died of Wounds 18 September 1918]


BS Hutcheson VC MC2 September 1918
Captain Bellenden Seymour Hutcheson VC MC
Drocourt-Quéant Line near Arras, France
Canadian Army Medical Corps attached 75th Battalion CEF
11th Infantry Brigade, 4th Canadian Division

For most conspicuous bravery and devotion to duty on September 2nd, when under most intense shell, machine-gun and rifle fire, he went through the Quéant-Drocourt Support Line with the battalion. Without hesitation and with utter disregard of personal safety he remained on the field until every wounded man had been attended to. He dressed the wounds of a seriously wounded officer under terrific machine-gun and shell fire, and, with the assistance of prisoners and of his own men, succeeded in evacuating him to safety, despite the fact that the bearer party suffered heavy casualties.

Immediately afterwards he rushed forward, in full view of the enemy, under heavy machine-gun and rifle fire, to tend a wounded sergeant, and, having placed him in a shell-hole, dressed his wounds. Captain Hutcheson performed many similar gallant acts, and, by his coolness and devotion to duty, many lives were saved.

(Supplement to the London Gazette, 14 December 1918, page 14774)


AG Knight VC2 September 1918*
Acting Sergeant Arthur George Knight VC
Villers-les-Cagnicourt, France
10th Battalion CEF (10th Canadians)
2nd Infantry Brigade, 1st Canadian Division
Buried at Dominion Cemetery, Hendecourt-les-Cagnicourt, France

For most conspicuous bravery, initiative, and devotion to duty, when after an unsuccessful attack, Sjt. Knight led a bombing section forward, under very heavy fire of all descriptions, and engaged the enemy at close quarters. Seeing that his party continued to be held up, he dashed forward alone, bayoneting several of the enemy machine gunners and trench mortar crews, and forcing the remainder to retire in confusion. He then brought forward a Lewis gun and directed his fire on the retreating enemy, inflicting many casualties.

In the subsequent advance of his platoon in pursuit, Sjt. Knight saw a party of about thirty of the enemy go into a deep tunnel which led off the trench, He again dashed forward alone, and, having killed one officer and two N.C.O.’s, captured twenty other ranks. Subsequently he routed, single-handed, another enemy party which was opposing the advance of his platoon.

On each occasion he displayed the greatest valour under fire at very close range, and by his example of courage, gallantry, and initiative was a wonderful inspiration to all. This very gallant N.C.O. was subsequently fatally wounded.

(Supplement to the Edinburgh Gazette, 19 November 1918, page 4254)


Metcalf VC MM and Bar. Peck VC DSO and Bar

William Henry Metcalf and Cyrus Wesley Peck were both awarded the Victoria Cross during Canada’s Last 100 Days of the Great War. Metcalf was born in the United States.
(Image courtesy of the Canadian Scottish Regiment).

2 September 1918
Lance Corporal William Henry Metcalf VC MM and Bar

Arras, France
16th Battalion CEF (Canadian Scottish)
3rd Infantry Brigade, 1st Canadian Division

For most conspicuous bravery, initiative and devotion to duty in attack, when, the right flank of the battalion being held up, he realised the situation and rushed forward under intense machine-gun fire to a passing Tank on the left. With his signal flag he walked in front of the Tank, directing it along the trench in a perfect hail of bullets and bombs. The machine-gun strong points were overcome, very heavy casualties were inflicted on the enemy, and a very critical situation was relieved.

Later, although wounded, he continued to advance until ordered to get into a shell hole and have his wounds dressed.

His valour throughout was of the highest standard.

(Supplement to the London Gazette 15 November 1918, page 13473)

2 September 1918
Lieutenant Colonel Cyrus Wesley Peck VC DSO and Bar
Cagnicourt, France
16th Battalion CEF (Canadian Scottish)
3rd Infantry Brigade, 1st Canadian Division

For most conspicuous bravery and skillful leading when in attack under intense fire.

His command quickly captured the first objective, but progress to the further objective was held up by enemy machine-gun fire on his right flank.

The situation being critical in the extreme, Colonel Peck pushed forward and made a personal reconnaissance under heavy machine-gun and sniping fire, across a stretch of ground which was heavily swept by fire.

Having reconnoitered the position he returned, reorganised his battalion, and, acting upon the knowledge personally gained; pushed them forward and arranged to protect his flanks. He then went out under the most intense artillery and machine-gun fire, intercepted the Tanks, gave them the necessary directions, pointing out where they were to make for, and thus pave the way for a Canadian Infantry battalion to push forward. To this battalion he subsequently gave requisite support.

His magnificent display of courage and fine qualities of leadership enabled the advance to be continued, although always under heavy artillery and machine-gun fire, and contributed largely to the success of the brigade attack.

(Supplement to the London Gazette 15 November 1918, page 13471)


WL Rayfield VC2 – 4 September 1918
Private Walter Leigh Rayfield VC
East of Arras, France
7th Battalion CEF (1st British Columbia Regiment)
2nd Infantry Brigade, 1st Canadian Division

For most conspicuous bravery, and devotion to duty, and initiative during the operations east of Arras from 2nd to 4th September, 1918.

Ahead of his company, he rushed a trench occupied by a large party of the enemy, personally bayoneting two and taking ten prisoners.

Later, he located and engaged with great skill, under constant rifle fire, an enemy sniper who was causing many casualties. He then rushed the section of trench from which the sniper had been operating, and so demoralised the enemy by his coolness and daring that thirty others surrendered to him.

Again, regardless of his personal safety, he left cover under heavy machine-gun fire and carried in a badly wounded comrade.

His indomitable courage, cool foresight, and daring reconnaissance were invaluable to his Company Commander and an inspiration to all ranks.

(Supplement to the London Gazette, 14 December 1918, page 14779)


JF Young VC2 – 4 September 1918
Private John Francis Young VC
Dury – Arras Sector, France
87th Battalion CEF (Canadian Grenadier Guards)
11th Infantry Brigade, 4th Canadian Division

For most conspicuous bravery and devotion to duty in attack at Dury-Arras sector on the 2nd September, 1918, when acting as a stretcher-bearer attached to “D” Company of the 87th Bn., Quebec Regiment.

This company in the advance over the ridge suffered heavy casualties from shell and machine-gun fire.

Pte. Young, in spite of the complete absence of cover, without the least hesitation went out, and in the open fire-swept ground dressed the wounded. Having exhausted his stock of dressings, on more than one occasion he returned, under intense fire, to his company headquarters for a further supply. This work he continued for over an hour, displaying throughout the most absolute fearlessness.

To his courageous conduct must be ascribed the saving of the lives of many of his comrades.

Later, when the fire had somewhat slackened, he organised and led stretcher parties to bring in the wounded whom he had dressed.

All through the operations of 2nd, 3rd, and 4th September Pte. Young continued to show the greatest valour and devotion to duty.

(Supplement to the London Gazette, 14 December 1918, page 14779)


GF Kerr VC MC and Bar MM27 September 1918
Lieutenant George Fraser Kerr VC MC and Bar, MM
Bourlon Wood near the Arras-Cambrai Road, France
3rd Battalion CEF (Toronto Regiment)
1st Infantry Brigade, 1st Canadian Division

For most conspicuous bravery and leadership during the Bourlon Wood operations on 27th September 1918, when in command of the left support company in attack.

He handled his company with great skill, and gave timely support by out-flanking a machine-gun which was impeding the advance.

Later, near the Arras-Cambrai road, the advance was again held up by a strong point. Lt. Kerr, far in advance of his company, rushed this strong point single-handed and captured four machine-guns and thirty-one prisoners.

His valour throughout this engagement was an inspiring example to all.

(Supplement to the London Gazette, 6 January 1919, page 306)


Graham Thomson Lyall VC
Inscription on the Commonwealth War Graves Commission Headstone, Halfaya Sollum War Cemetery, Egypt, 1941

GT Lyall VC27 September 1918
Lieutenant Graham Thomson Lyall VC
North of Cambrai against Bourlon Wood and near Blecourt, France
102nd Battalion CEF (North British Columbians)
11th Infantry Brigade, 4th Canadian Division

For most conspicuous bravery and skillful leading during the operations north of Cambrai.

On September 27th, 1918, whilst leading his platoon against Bourlon Wood, he rendered invaluable support to the leading company, which was held up by a strong point, which he captured, by a flank movement, together with thirteen prisoners, one field gun and four machine guns.

Later, his platoon, now much weakened by casualties, was held up by machine guns at the southern end of Bourlon Wood. Collecting any men available, he led them towards the strong point, and springing forward alone, rushed the position single-handed and killed the officer in charge, subsequently capturing at this point forty-five prisoners and five machine guns. Having made good his final objective, with a further capture of forty-seven prisoners, he consolidated his position and thus protected the remainder of the company.

On October 1st, in the neighbourhood cf Blecourt when in command of a weak company, by skillful dispositions he captured a strongly defended position, which yielded eighty prisoners and seventeen machine guns.

During two days of operations Lt. Lyall captured in -all 3 officers, 182 other ranks, 26 machine guns and one field gun, exclusive of heavy casualties inflicted. He • showed throughout the utmost valour and high powers of command.

(Supplement to the London Gazette, 14 December 1918, page 14775)


MF Gregg VC MC and Bar27 September – 1 October 1918
Lieutenant Milton Fowler Gregg VC MC and Bar
Near Cambrai, France
Royal Canadian Regiment
7th Infantry Brigade, 3rd Canadian Division

For most conspicuous bravery and initiative during operations near Cambrai, 27th September to 1st October 1918.

On 28th September, when the advance of the brigade was held up by fire from both flanks and by thick, uncut wire, he crawled forward alone and explored the wire until he found a small gap through which he subsequently led his men and forced an entry into the enemy trench. The enemy counter-attacked in force and, through lack of bombs, the situation became critical. Although wounded Lt. Gregg returned alone under terrific fire and collected a further supply. Then rejoining his party, which by this time was much reduced in numbers, and in spite of a second wound, he reorganized his men and led them with the greatest determination against the enemy trenches, which he finally cleared.

He personally killed or wounded 11 of the enemy and took 25 prisoners, in addition to 12 machine guns captured in this trench. Remaining with his company in spite of wounds he again on the 30th September led his men in attack until severely wounded. The outstanding valour of this officer saved many casualties and enabled the advance to continue.

(Supplement to the London Gazette, 6 January 1919, page 306)


Grave of S.L. Honey VC DCM MM

Resting place of Samuel Lewis Honey VC DCM MM,
(P. Ferguson image, September 2009)

27 September – 2 October1918*
Lieutenant Samuel Lewis Honey VC DCM MM
Bourlon Wood, France
78th Battalion CEF
12th Infantry Brigade, 4th Canadian Division
Buried at Queant Communal Cemetery British Extension, France

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.

(Supplement to the London Gazette, 6 January 1919, page 306)


J. MacGregor VC MC and Bar DCM29 September – 3 October 1918
Temporary Captain John MacGregor VC MC and Bar DCM
Near Cambrai and at Neuville St. Remy, France
2nd Canadian Mounted Rifles
8th Infantry Brigade, 3rd Canadian Division

For most conspicuous bravery, leadership and self-sacrificing devotion to duty near Cambrai from 29th September to 3rd October. 1918.

He led his company under intense fire, and when the advance was checked by machine guns, although wounded, pushed on and located the enemy guns. He then ran forward in broad daylight, in face of heavy fire from all directions, and, with rifle and bayonet, single-handed, put the enemy crews out of action, killing four and taking eight prisoners. His prompt action saved many casualties and enabled the advance to continue.

After reorganising his command under heavy fire he rendered most useful support to neighbouring troops. When the enemy were showing stubborn resistance, he went along the line regardless of danger, organised the platoons, took command of the leading waves,, and continued the advance. Later, after a personal daylight reconnaissance under heavy fire, he established his company in Neuville St. Remy, thereby greatly assisting the advance into Tilloy. Throughout the operations Capt. MacGregor displayed magnificent bravery and heroic leadership.

(Supplement to the London Gazette, 6 January 1919, pp. 305 – 306)


W. Merrifield VC MM1 October 1918
Sergeant William Merrifield VC MM
Near Abancourt, France
4th Battalion CEF (Central Ontario)
1st Infantry Brigade, 1st Canadian Division

For most conspicuous bravery and devotion to duty during the attack near Abancourt on the 1st October, 1918. When his men were held up by an intense fire from two machine-gun emplacements, he attacked them both single-handed. Dashing from shell-hole to shell-hole he killed the occupants of the first post, and, although. wounded, continued to attack the second post, and with a bomb killed the occupants. He refused to be evacuated, and led his platoon until again severely wounded.

Sjt. Merrifield has served with exceptional distinction on many former occasions, and throughout the action of the 1st October showed the highest qualities of valour and leadership.

(Supplement to the London Gazette, 6 January 1919, page 308)


CN Mitchell VC MC8 – 9 October 1918
Captain Coulson Norman Mitchell VC MC
Canal de L’Escaut, north-east of Cambrai, France
4th Battalion Canadian Engineers
2nd Brigade Canadian Engineers, 2nd Canadian Division

For most conspicuous bravery and devotion to duty on the night of 8th–9th October 1918, at Canal de L’Escaut, north-east of Cambrai.

He led a small party ahead of the first wave of infantry in order to examine the various bridges on the line of approach and, if possible, to prevent their demolition.

On reaching the canal he found the bridge already blown up. Under a heavy barrage he crossed to the next bridge, where he cut a number of “lead” wires. Then in total darkness, and unaware of the position or strength of the enemy at the bridgehead, he dashed across the main bridge over the canal. This bridge was found to be heavily charged for demolition, and whilst Capt. Mitchell, assisted by his N.C.O., was cutting the wires, the enemy attempted to rush the bridge in order to blow the charges, whereupon he at once dashed to the assistance of his sentry, who had been wounded, killed three of the enemy, captured 12, and maintained the bridgehead until reinforced.

Then under heavy fire he continued his task of cutting wires and removing charges, which he well knew might at any moment have been fired by the enemy.

It was entirely due to his valour and decisive action that this important bridge across the canal was saved from destruction.

(Supplement to the London Gazette, 31 January 1919, pp. 1503 – 1504)


Wallace Lloyd Algie VC
Inscription on Commonwealth War Graves Commission Headstone

11 October 1918*
Lieutenant Wallace Lloyd Algie VC
North-east of Cambrai, France
20th Battalion CEF (1st Central Ontario Regiment)
4th Infantry Brigade, 2nd Canadian Division
Buried at Niagara Cemetery, Iwuy, France

For most conspicuous bravery and self-sacrifice on the 11th October, 1918, north-east of Cambrai, when with attacking troops which came under heavy enfilade machine-gun fire from a neighbouring village.

Rushing forward with nine volunteers, he shot the crew of an enemy machine gun, and, turning it on the enemy, enabled his party to reach the village. He then rushed another machine gun, killed the crew. captured an officer and 10 enemy, and thereby cleared the end of the village.

Lt. Algie, having established his party, went back for reinforcements, but was killed when leading them forward. His valour and personal initiative in the face of intense fire saved many lives and enabled the position to be held.

(Supplement to the London Gazette, 31 January 1919, page 1504)


Hugh Cairns VC DCM
Inscription on Commonwealth War Graves Commission Headstone

H. Cairns VC DCM1 November 1918*
Sergeant Hugh Cairns VC DCM
Before Valenciennes and at Marley, France
46th Battalion CEF (South Saskatchewan Battalion)
10th Infantry Brigade, 4th Canadian Division
Buried at Auberchicourt British Cemetery, France

For most conspicuous bravery before Valenciennes on 1st November, 1918, when a machine gun opened on his platoon. Without a moment’s hesitation Serjt. Cairns seized a Lewis gun and single-handed, in the face of direct fire, rushed the post, killed the crew of five, and captured the gun. Later, when the line was held up by machine-gun fire, he again rushed forward, killing 12 enemy and capturing 18 and two guns.

Subsequently, when the advance was held up by machine guns and field guns, although wounded, he led a small party to outflank them, killing many, forcing about 50 to surrender, and capturing all the guns.

After consolidation he went with a battle patrol to exploit Marly and forced 60 enemy to surrender. Whilst disarming this party he was severely wounded. Nevertheless, he opened fire and inflicted heavy losses. Finally he was rushed by about 20 enemy and collapsed from weakness and loss of blood.

Throughout the operation he showed the highest degree of valour, and his leadership greatly contributed to the success of the attack. He died on the 2nd November from wounds.

(Supplement to the London Gazette, 31 January 1919, page 1504)


A posthumous Victoria Cross is indicated with an asterisk (*) alongside the date of award.

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About The Author

Paul has worked with the Paradigm Motion Picture Company since 2009 as producer, historian and research specialist. Paul first met Casey and Ian WIlliams of Paradigm in April 2007 at Ieper (Ypres), Belgium when ceremonies were being held for the re-dedication of the Vimy Memorial, France. Paul's sensitivity to film was developed at an early age seeing his first films at RCAF Zweibrucken, Germany and Sardinia. Paul returned to Canada in 1967 and was captivated by David Lean's "Lawrence of Arabia" and "Bridge on the River Kwai". Over time Paul became increasingly interested in storytelling, content development, character, direction, cinematography, narration and soundtracks. At the University of Victoria, Paul studied and compared Japanese and Australian film and became interested in Australian film maker Peter Weir and his film "Gallipoli" (1981). Paul was inspired when he learned Weir visited the beaches, ridges and ravines of the peninsula. "Gallipoli", the film, led Paul on many journeys to sites of conflict in England, France, Belgium, Holland, Germany, Malta, Hawaii, Gallipoli, North Macedonia and Salonika. When Paul first watched documentary filmmaker Ken Burns, "The Civil War", Paul understood how his own experience and insight could be effective and perhaps influential in film-making. Combining his knowledge of Museums and Archives, exhibitions and idea strategies with his film interests was a natural progression. Paul thinks like a film-maker. His passion for history and storytelling brings to Paradigm an eye (and ear) to the keen and sensitive interests of; content development, the understanding of successful and relational use of collections, imagery and voice. Like Paul's favorite actor, Peter O'Toole, Paul believes in the adage “To deepen not broaden.” While on this path Paul always remembers his grandmother whose father did not return from the Great War and how his loss shaped her life and how her experience continues to guide him.


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