Personal info

  • Name: William Hew CLARK-KENNEDY
  • D.O.B: 3rd March, 1879
  • D.O.A: 28th August, 1918
  • D.O.D: 25th October, 1961
  • Award: Victoria Cross
  • Occupation at time of action: Lieutenant Colonel, commanding 24th Battalion Quebec Regiment (Victoria Rifles), 2nd Division, Canadian Expeditionary Force
  • Book: The Complete History - Volume 2
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Chérisy and ‘Upton Wood’, east of Chérisy, France 27-28 August 1918

27-28 August 1918

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The First World War 1918 

On 27 and 28 August 1918, the second and third days of the Battle of the Scarpe, 24th Battalion Quebec Regiment (Victoria Rifles), 2nd Canadian Division, was towards the right flank of First Army, south-east of Arras and south of the Arras to Cambrai road. On 27 August 1918, it advanced from Wancourt to Chérisy, north of Fontaine-lès-Croisilles. After Chérisy had been captured the Battalion crossed the Sensée and the following day attacked Upton Wood. During the fighting Lieutenant Colonel W H Clark-Kennedy’s leg was shattered by machine-gun fire but he refused to be evacuated for many hours.

Citation

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

Second Supplement to The London Gazette of 13 December 1918. 14 December 1918, Numb. 31067, pp. 14773-74.

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