Personal info

  • Name: John Henry (Harry) BROWN
  • D.O.B: 9th May, 1898
  • D.O.A: 16th August, 1917
  • D.O.D: 17th August, 1917
  • Award: Victoria Cross
  • Occupation at time of action: Private, 10th Battalion The Alberta Regiment, Canadian Expeditionary Force
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Hill 70, near Lens, France 15-17 August 1917

15-17 August 1917

More details about:
The First World War 1917 

Hill 70, in fact a low ridge, lay east of Loos and north of Lens on the road south from La Bassée. Atop it was a German redoubt, which commanded the surrounding area. It had been attacked by the British on 25-26 September 1915 (qv) during the Battle of Loos but had been held by the Germans. On 15 August 1917 it was taken by Canadian troops and fighting continued there until the 25th (see 18, 21-24 August 1917 below). Six Canadians were to be awarded the VC for their gallantry during the whole engagement. In the course of the battle, on 16 August the Germans counter-attacked a trench known as the Chalk Pit, which the Canadians had captured the day before. Two stretcher-bearers were killed and 11 wounded out of the 16 that were assigned to the 7th Battalion The British Columbia Regiment.

Citation

 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. Pte. 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. 

Second Supplement to The London Gazette of 16 October 1917. 17 October 1917, Numb. 30338, p. 10678

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