Canadian War Museum acquires three Victoria Crosses from the First World WarNovember 1, 2022
Ottawa, Ontario, November 1, 2022 — The Canadian War Museum is pleased to announce the acquisition of three Victoria Crosses from the First World War. These were awarded to Second Lieutenant Edmund De Wind, Sergeant Thomas William Holmes, and Private James Peter Robertson. With these acquisitions, the War Museum is now home to 36 of 73 Victoria Crosses awarded to Canadians who fought in the First World War.
“We are pleased to be able to acquire these three Victoria Crosses, the highest honour for military valour,” said Dr. Dean F. Oliver, Acting Vice-President and Director General of the Canadian War Museum. “Each medal highlights a personal story of exceptional bravery under extraordinary circumstances.”
Second Lieutenant Edmund De Wind, 15th Battalion, Royal Irish Rifles, was posthumously awarded the Victoria Cross for his actions on March 21, 1918 at the Race Course Redoubt near Grugies, France. Despite being wounded twice, De Wind defended this redoubt for a period of seven hours, repelling attack after attack, until another section could arrive to help. He was fatally wounded during one of the final attacks.
Sergeant Thomas William Holmes and Private James Peter Robertson each received the Victoria Cross for their actions on different dates during the assault on Passchendaele, one of the most epic and tragic battles of the First World War.
On October 26, 1917, while German pillbox defences were keeping two waves of the Canadian Corps bogged down, Sergeant Holmes, 4th Canadian Mounted Rifles, noticed a lull in firing and attacked with hand grenades while the enemy was reloading. After killing and wounding the crews of two machine guns, he returned, under heavy fire, with more grenades and threw one into the pillbox entrance, causing the 19 occupants to surrender.
Private James Peter Robertson, 27th Canadian Infantry Battalion, was posthumously awarded the Victoria Cross for his actions on November 6, 1917. When his platoon was held up that day during an attack to capture Passchendaele, Robertson dashed to an opening on the flank, captured a machine gun, and inflicted several casualties among the enemy. Later, when two of his snipers were badly wounded in front of his trench, Robertson carried them back under severe fire. He was killed as he returned with the second man.
The purchase of these medals was made possible with support from the National Collection Fund and from individual donors. The Robertson Victoria Cross was purchased with support from Honorary Colonel (Ret’d) Brian Hastings.
The War Museum is home to 42 Victoria Crosses. In addition to 36 from the First World War, the Museum holds five from the Second World War and one from the 19th century. A total of 99 Victoria Crosses have been awarded to Canadians, each one reflecting the outstanding heroism of ordinary people under extraordinary circumstances.
The Canadian War Museum is Canada’s national museum of military history. Its mission is to promote public understanding of Canada’s military history in its personal, national and international dimensions. Work of the Canadian War Museum is made possible in part through financial support of the Government of Canada.
Avra Gibbs Lamey
Senior Communications and Media Relations Officer
Canadian War Museum