A mem­ber of the ‘Mag­nif­i­cent Seven’

The Glengarry News - - News - BY SCOTT CARMICHAEL News Staff

A civic cer­e­mony was held re­cently in Claude Nun­ney’s Bri­tish home­town to com­mem­o­rate Glen­garry County’s only Vic­to­ria Cross win­ner.

The event took place at Alexan­dra Park in Hast­ings, on Septem­ber 2 – ex­actly 100 years af­ter Pte. Nun­ney was se­ri­ously wounded while fight­ing along the Ger­man-held Dro­court-Quéant Line near Ar­ras, France. It was dur­ing this bat­tle that Pte. Nun­ney – who died of his wounds just over two weeks later – per­formed the re­peated acts of hero­ism that earned him the VC, posthu­mously, three months later.

Ac­cord­ing to the Dec. 14, 1918 edi­tion of the Lon­don Gazette, Pte. Nun­ney was cited for the Vic­to­ria Cross “for most con­spic­u­ous brav­ery dur­ing the op­er­a­tions against the Dro­court-Quéant Line on Septem­ber 1 and 2, 1918.”

The ex­tract ex­plains that “on Septem­ber 1, when his bat­tal­ion was in the vicin­ity of Vis-en-Ar­tois, prepara­tory to the ad­vance, the en­emy laid down a heavy bar­rage and counter-at­tacked.”

Pte. Nun­ney, who was at com­pany head­quar­ters at the time of the coun­ter­at­tack, “im­me­di­ately on his own ini­tia­tive pro­ceeded through the bar­rage to the com­pany out­post lines, go­ing from post to post and en­cour­ag­ing the men by his own fear­less ex­am­ple. The en­emy was re­pulsed and a crit­i­cal sit­u­a­tion was saved.” The fol­low­ing day, Pte. Nun­ney’s “dash con­tin­u­ally placed him in ad­vance of his com­pan­ions, and his fear­less ex­am­ple un­doubt­edly helped greatly to carry the com­pany for­ward to its ob­jec­tives.”

Born in St. Leonards-on-Sea, Hast­ings, Sussex in July 1892, Claude Joseph Pa­trick Nun­ney came to Canada in 1905 as a Bri­tish Home Child. Af­ter spend­ing a brief time at St. Ge­orge's dis­tri­bu­tion home (or­phan­age) in Ot­tawa, he was placed with Mrs. Don­ald Roy McDon­ald of Pine Hill (North Lan­caster) who adopted the young­ster, pro­vided him with a lov­ing and nur­tur­ing home, and sent him to school.

Fol­low­ing Mrs. McDon­ald’s death in 1912, young Claude con­tin­ued work­ing on area farms be­fore leav­ing Glen­garry to travel across the coun­try. He led the life of an itin­er­ant labourer be­fore heed­ing the call of ‘ King and Coun­try’ and en­list­ing with the Cana­dian Army in 1915. The only Cana­dian sol­dier of the First World War to be awarded the Vic­to­ria Cross, Distin­guished Con­duct Medal (DCM) and the Mil­i­tary Medal (MM), Claude Nun­ney also had an­other claim to fame.

He was one of the so-called ‘Mag­nif­i­cent Seven’ Cana­dian ser­vice­men who earned the Vic­to­ria Cross for their ac­tions across the 30-km-long Dro­court-Quéant Line on Sept. 2, 1918.

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