Lo­cal Hero Saved Many Lives


The Peterborough Examiner - - Lest We Forget - By El­iz­a­beth Bower-Gordon

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.

Harry Brown

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