The Victoria Cross

Lieutenant Colonel Clark-Kennedy, V.C., D.S.O.
24th (Victoria Rifles) BattalionClark-Kennedy

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.

(Clark-Kennedy, V.C. Citation. 14 Dec 1918)

For heroically charging a German machine nest during the battle of Arras on 28 August 1918, William Hew Clark-Kennedy received the Victoria Cross, the highest award for gallantry in the British Empire. Born in Scotland on 3 March 1879, he had fought in the Boer War before immigrating to Canada, where he joined the 5th Royal Highlanders.

As a captain with the 13th Battalion, Clark-Kennedy served with distinction during the battle of Second Ypres in April 1915. After he and several officers were blown up by a German shell, Clark-Kennedy was officially reported killed in action. The error was only corrected days later when he returned to his unit the sole survivor of the blast.

When Lieutenant Colonel Charles Frederick Richie transferred to England in January 1918, Clark-Kennedy took charge of the 24th Battalion. He remained in command until his Victoria Cross winning actions at the end of August 1918. After suffering a gunshot wound to his right leg and losing a good deal of blood, the 24th C.O. was evacuated to England.

On 16 December 1918, King George V presented Clark-Kennedy and five other Canadian soldiers with the Victoria Cross. General Currie enthused: “Nothing was too dangerous for this gallant officer and I had to restrain him often. Luckily he was not killed but lived to win the Victoria Cross, and I can assure you that no V.C. was ever more worthily won than that awarded to Clark-Kennedy.”

He became honourary colonel of the Black Watch and died in Montreal on 25 October 1961.

Digitized Service File (LAC):

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