Three Victoria Cross medals awarded to Canadian soldiers from Winnipeg’s Pine Street, later renamed Valour Road, have been reunited at the Canadian War Museum in Ottawa.
Heritage Minister James Moore unveiled the trio of medals, which will be housed in the Royal Canadian Legion of Honour, on Monday morning. The medals were awarded to Company Sergeant Major Federick William Hall, Corporal Leo Clarke, and Lieutenant Robert Shankland, who all lived on a single block in Winnipeg.
“The men were of different ages, they served in different military units, and they were recognized for heroism in different battles,” said Moore on Monday.
“The coincidence of having so many Victoria Crosses associated with a single street, in a single block, in a single city is a unique Canadian a story about which we are all proud.”
The Victoria Cross is the highest award for military valour in Canada and in much of the Commonwealth. It has been awarded to Canadians 96 times.
Hall was awarded the medal posthumously for his service during the second Battle of Ypres, after being shot in the forehead during an attempt to rescue wounded comrades in 1915.
Clarke, fighting on the Somme Front, single-handedly captured or killed 20 German soldiers in September 1916. Clarke was killed by an enemy shell two months later. The Victoria Cross was presented to his father.
Shankland’s platoon was caught in enemy crossfire in October 1917 at the Battle of Passchendaele. After suffering casualties during more than four hours of fighting, Shankland managed to make it back to his battalion’s headquarters to report and plan a counterattack. He then returned to his troops, who were successfully reinforced from by soldiers from the 52nd and 58th battalions. Shankland was the only one of the three men to return from the war.
The medals will be loaned to the Manitoba Museum in Winnipeg in 2014 to commemorate the role of the Winnipeg Rifles and the Queen’s Own Cameron Highlanders regiments during the First World War.