This past Sunday was Remembrance Day: a day when we pause to remember those who made tremendous sacrifices for our freedom.
Of particular note are the sacrifices made by Corporal Leo Clarke, Sergeant-Major Frederick William Hall and Lieutenant Robert Shankland. All three men fought and gave their lives during World War I. All three men received the Victoria Cross for acts of bravery. All three men lived on one block of Pine Street in Winnipeg, Manitoba.
On September 9, 1916, Corporal Clarke was involved in a battle that wiped out his entire section. 20 enemy soldiers counter-attacked, and Clarke defended the position. He single-handedly killed 19 enemy soldiers, and captured one. Corporal Clarke was later seriously injured in battle on October 11, 1916, and died on October 19,1916 at the age of 23.
Sergeant-Major Frederick William Hall died in battle on April 24, 1915 at the age of 30. During a battle in Belgium, Hall left his position of shelter and ventured onto the battle field to recover wounded soldiers. He brought two wounded soldiers back to safety, but lost his life will trying to save a third.
Lieutenant Robert Shankland fought in both World War I and II. He was awarded the Victoria Cross for his acts of bravery while a Sergeant in World War I. On October 26, 1917, Shankland led a platoon and captured a position at Passchendaele, Belgium. The position was exposed and under heavy attack, and was at risk of being lost. Shankland turned over command to another officer, and fended his way through mud and enemy shelling to return to battalion headquarters, where he was able to report on the situation, obtain reinforcements, and plan a counterattack. He returned to the front to lead the counterattack. Shankland rejoined the military for World War II. Lieutenant Shankland died in 1968,
What united the three men, apart from their extraordinary valour, was the fact that they all lived, and one point, on Pine Street, Winnipeg. In 1925, Pine Street was renamed Valour Road. in honour of these wonderful gentlemen.
Shankland’s medal was purchased by the Canadian War Museum in 2009 for $240,000 from, it is believed, Shankland’s family. Shankland’s Victoria Cross, along with those of Hall and Clarke are now displayed at the Canadian War Museum in Ottawa.
Thank you for reading,
Paul Trudelle – Click here for more information on Paul Trudelle.
Every year on Groundhog Day I can’t help but reflect on Bill Murray and his contribution to the modern North American psyche. It must be a massive ego trip to know that, on one day of the year, most everyone reflects on a movie that you have made. With all due apologies to Punxsutawney Phil and Ontario’s own Wiarton Willie, Bill Murray is to Groundhog Day what Cupid is to Valentine’s Day (that other February distraction). And you can’t escape him. Groundhog Day (the movie) is played endlessly in syndication (especially on, well, Groundhog Day) unrivaled in its mind-numbing repetition except by the inescapable "Bridget Jones Diary" and Murray’s other masterpiece "What About Bob?"
But I digress. Groundhog Day (the day, not the movie) speaks to our deepest yearnings for the coming of Spring in the depths of what is now a very frigid winter. And Groundhog Day (the movie, not the day) observes the mind-numbing monotony of everyday life coupled with the fantasy of excelling at a given endeavour if only given 365 chances to repeat it. There is a lesson in there somewhere…I am just not sure what it is.
Here’s to trying to get it right the first time…whatever "it" happens to be!
David M. Smith
David M. Smith – Click here for more information on David Smith.