Genealogy History

Pte. Harry Brown (Gananoque, ON)

te. Harry W. Brown, a Gananoque native, was one of six Canadian soldiers to be awarded a Victoria Cross for their acts of heroism during the Battle of Hill 70, northwest of Lens, France, in August 1917.

The Victoria Cross is the highest military honour awarded to members of the Commonwealth forces “for extraordinary valour and devotion to duty while facing a hostile force.”

He was awarded the Victoria Cross, posthumously, for his actions.

The newly opened Hill 70 Memorial — the creation of a group of Kingstonians — features a walkway with imprints of maple leaves representing each of the 1,877 Canadian soldiers, including Brown, who died during the battle.

Brown, who was born May 11, 1898, in Gananoque, was delivering a message on a piece of paper on Aug. 16, 1917, when he was wounded. He died the next day at the age of 19.

His actions are commemorated at the cenotaph at the town park in Gananoque.

After Brown’s father died, the family moved to Emily Township, northwest of Peterborough, in 1908. He was working at a munitions factory in London, Ont., when, at age 18 he enlisted for the First World War on Aug. 18, 1916.

He served as a messenger with the 10th Battalion at Hill 70.

His Victoria Cross citation reads: “For most conspicuous bravery, courage and devotion to duty. After the capture of a position, the enemy massed in force and counter-attacked. The situation became very critical, all wires being cut. It was of the utmost importance to get word back to Headquarters. This soldier and one other were given the message with orders to deliver the same at all costs. The other messenger was killed. Private Brown had his arm shattered but continued on through an intense barrage until he arrived at the close support lines and found an officer. He was so spent that he fell down the dug-out steps, but retained consciousness long enough to hand over his message, saying ‘Important message.’ He then became unconscious and died in the dressing station a few hours later. His devotion to duty was of the highest possible degree imaginable, and his successful delivery of the message undoubtedly saved the loss of the position for the time and prevented many casualties.”



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *