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Current Awards:  Victoria Cross OMM/MMM MSM (Cdn) MiD    
Former Awards: Imp.Honours & Foreign DSO MC DCM MSM (Brit) MM 
Service Awards: United Nations NATO Foreign Volunteer Long  
Commemoratives: Confederation Jubilee Provincial      
ribbonvc.gif (1263 bytes) The Victoria Cross

The highest award for bravery in the British Commonwealth is the Victoria Cross.  Of the 94 awards made to Canadians to date, two are claimed by The Calgary Highlanders.  Both were awarded to 10th Battalion soldiers late in the First World War.

Acting Sergeant Arthur George Knight, VC

On 2 September 1918 at Villers-les-Cagnicourt, France, Acting Sergeant Knight was leading a bombing section forward.  When the section was held up, he went forward alone, killing several enemy machine gunners and trench mortar crews with his bayonet.  The enemy was forced to retire, and Knight brought forward a Lewis Gun crew and directed fire on the retreating enemy.  When his platoon went in pursuit of the survivors, Knight observed thirty enemy soldiers descend into a tunnel.  He once again went forward alone, killing an officer and two NCOs, and taking twenty Germans prisoner.  He likewise routed yet another party of enemy troops, and was eventually fatally wounded.

Sergeant Knight is buried at Dominion Cemetery, France. His medal is in the possession of the Glenbow Museum in Calgary. 

The full text of his Victoria Cross Citation may be viewed on the Virtual Museum Tour portion of this website.

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Originally born in Haywards Heath, Sussex,England on 26 June 1886, he lived and worked as a carpenter in Regina, Saskatchewan where he was attested on 19 December 1914. A plaque has been erected at his former residence, 1843 Rae St, which is attached to an older apartment block. Additionally, two streets have been named in his honour, Knight and Sussex Crescents which are located in Coventry Park, a subdivision in west central Regina that was developed just after the Second World War. Coventry Park was named for the English cathedral city devastated by German bombers.

Photo at right appears at the Canadian Virtual War Memorial; the caption indicates that Sergeant Knight "was a former member of the Church Lads' Brigade at St. Mary Magdalene, Reigate, Company No. 2015."

 

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Private Harry W. Brown, VC

Private Harry Brown was just nineteen years old when he earned his Victoria Cross.  On 16 August 1917 at Hill 70, near Loos, France, the Tenth Battalion had just captured an enemy position when the enemy massed and counter-attacked in force.   As all signal wires were cut, Private Brown and another soldier were ordered to carry messages back "at all costs." The other messenger was killed and Private Brown was seriously injured by enemy fire.   He reached friendly headquarters with a shattered arm, and gasped out "Important Message" before collapsing.  He died of his wounds, and his actions were credited for saving many Allied lives.  He is buried in Noeux-les-Mines Communal Cemetery, France.  His medal is held by the Canadian War Museum. 

The full text of his Victoria Cross Citation may be viewed on the Virtual Museum Tour portion of this website.

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Honourable Mention - Lance Corporal George William Allan, DCM

During the epic stand of the Tenth Battalion near Locality C during the fighting at St. Julien in April 1915, an eight man Colt machine gun team under Lance Corporal George Allan was dispatched to reinforce the 2nd (Eastern Ontario) Battalion.  Lieutenant William Doxsee's platoon, down to 15 men, welcomed the arrivals at 6:00 am on the morning of the 23rd and the MG crew set up in a farm building dubbed "Doxsee's House", just east of Kitcheners' Wood, seventy five yards ahead of the 2nd Battalions main battle positions.  Only a hundred yards away, the Germans - it seemed like thousands of them - were digging in behind a row of hedges.

The Colt machine gun was carefully camouflaged in the badly damaged house, and the Tenth Battalion men opened fire on the enemy from loopholes in the walls of the farmhouse.  The men held out for the rest of the day and night, consuming what little food and water they had quickly.   Just after dawn on the 24th, the Germans launched several attacks - at least a half a dozen seperate rushes.  Lieutenant Doxsee refused to leave, telling his men he had been ordered to "hold the house at all cost." Only the most seriously wounded were allowed to leave the house.  German small arms fire kept the defenders under cover, and they could only move by crawling on their bellies.  Lieutenant Doxsee was finally struck in the head by a bullet and killed at mid-day.

The Colt machine gun, saved to surprise the Germans, proved invaluable during the German attacks, moving from the upstairs loft to the ground floor alternately, and despite occasionally jamming on the British made ammunition it was provided with.  Lance Corpora Allan coolly kept the gun operating, and German casualties also mounted with each new attack.   Reinforcements arrived in the form of a second MG crew from the 4th Battalion, but Allan's luck ran out when a German bullet went clear through his head. 

19616 Lance Corporal George William Allan was recommended for the Victoria Cross, and was instead awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal - posthumously.  He has no known grave, and his name is carved into the Menin Gate, memorializing 55,000 Commonwealth soldiers killed in the Ypres Salient whose bodies either disappeared without a trace or were rendered unidentifiable.


Honourable Mention - Captain Charles Costigan, DSO, MC

On 17 November 1915, two battalions of the CEF launched a major raid against German trenches.  Captain Costigan, of the Tenth Battalion, was selected to lead one of the two raiding parties.   Costigan trained his thirty-five men intensively, and after several days of bombardment on the enemy trenches, the party set off just after midnight, carrying a small wooden bridge to help cross over a stream in No Man's Land.  Arriving within 15 feet of the enemy trench, they found that the enemy wire had not been completely cut by the artillery.  Silently, the cut their way through the wire without alerting the Germans so close by.  Costigan and another officer went forward, and attempting yo supporting themselves on what they thought was a solid platform on the parapet of the trench, tumbled instead through the flimsy support and into the trench on top of three German sentries.   The two officers recovered quickly, shooting two of the Germans dead and wounding the third in the leg as he scrambled away shouting for help.

Germans began pouring into the adjacent stretches of trench, but by this time the men under Costigan had arrived and blocked both ends of their target trench, keeping up a rain of bombs on the enemy trying to move to assist.  Within their section, the Canadians used the bayonet to good effect on men coming out of the dugouts and thirty-five Germans were killed, with 12 prisoners taken.  Twenty minutes later, with bombs thrown down the dugouts for good measure, the raiding party had finished its work and returned to Canadian lines.  One man had been accidentally killed and another slightly injured.

Captain Costigan was recommended for the Victoria Cross for this action, and instead received the Distinguished Service Order.



Honourable Mention - Sergeant Clarence Crockett, DCM

Sergeant Clarence "Ken" Crockett volunteered for overseas service in 1943 after extensive service as an instructor in Canada.  Declining an officer's commission in May 1944 he headed to the UK with a reinforcement draft, and arrived in Normandy as a Calgary Highlander reinforcement in mid-July.  His bravery was made apparent at Tilly, his first real action, but it was in September where Crockett would gain regimental immortality.

In the early morning hours of 22 September 1944, Crockett led a small section-sized fighting patrol across the Albert Canal, sneaking across a damaged lock gate that was reduced to a single six-inch pipe with a thin wire handrail for the last eight feet.  Crockett personally scouted the far side, removed a barbed wire obstacle, then engaged German sentries when flares revealed their position on the far bank.  Killing one sentry with his Sten Gun, he silenced a German machinegun position shortly after, directed PIAT fire on a second MG, silencing it, and finally directing 2-inch mortar fire onto a third position.

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Three hours after the patrol had set out, the headquarters of the 5th Brigade was informed that all of Crockett's company had crossed the Albert Canal.  The brigadier was so pleased by this feat of arms, that a recommendation for the Victoria Cross was made.  The recommendation was approved by the 2nd Canadian Division, II Canadian Corps, and First Canadian Army, but the commander of 21st Army Group, one General Bernard Law Montgomery, rejected the award in favour of a Distinguished Conduct Medal instead.

Crockett's war ended on 23 October 1944, during the fighting west of Hoogerheide, when a German sniper put a bullet in his leg.  Crockett passed away in Crossfield in November 2002 at the age of 83.


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