Local Hero Saved Many Lives
PETERBOROUGH’S PTE. HARRY BROWN AWARDED THE VICTORIA CROSS FOR BRAVERY
A local hero was awarded a Victoria Cross in the First World War after delivering an important message to headquarters despite having to travel through intense fighting and having his arm shattered along the way. Pte. Harry Brown, of Peterborough, was part of the Battle of Hill 70 in France and died a few hours after successfully delivering the message, which prevented many more men from dying, according to a London Gazette report from the time. He was 19. Pte. Brown, 10th Canadian Battlion, had been part of the Canadian Expeditionary Forces during the battle from Aug. 15 to 25, 1917. That battle cost the Canadians 8,677 lives. It was Aug. 17 when Pte. Brown was tasked with delivering the message of an enemy counterattack. An extract from The London Gazette dated Oct. 16, 1917, records the following: “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.” Pte. Brown was one of six Canadian soldiers to recieve a Victoria Cross during that battle. The others were: - Company Sergeant-Major Robert Hill Hanna 29th Vancouver Battalion (Citation for Most Conspicuous Bravery) - Sergeant Frederick Hobson 20th Central Ontario Battalion (Valour and Devotion to Duty during attack) - Major Okill Massey Learmonth 2nd Eastern Ontario Battalion (Citation for Most Conspicuous Bravery) - Private Michael James O’Rourke 7th British Columbia Battalion (Citation for Most Conspicuous Bravery - Sergeant Filip Konowal 47th British Columbia Battalion (Citation for Most Conspicuous Bravery) NOTES: Did you know that the Omemee Legion is named after Pte. Harry Brown?…. Pte. Brown was born in Gananoque and moved with his mother to Peterborough in 1908…. He is buried in Noeux-les-Mines Communal Cemetery in Pas de Calais, France.