Noun: 1. Great courage in the face of danger, especially in battle. “The medals are awarded for acts of valour.”
Nothing exemplifies courage, honour, and heroism more than the story of three young Winnipeg men who lived on the same quaint street in the West End in the days leading up to World War I.
The three neighbours enlisted together for the barbaric war. Only one came home.
Yet, Corporal Leo Clarke,Sergeant-Major Frederick William Hall, and Lieutenant Robert Shankland would be connected for eternity through the highest military honour in the British Empire – The Victoria Cross – and their “human gallantry in the presence of the enemy.”
Corporal Clarke was honoured for his heroism on the Somme Front in 1916, killing or capturing 18 German soldiers and two officers, but was killed by enemy shell fire two months later.
Sergeant-Major Hall refused to leave three wounded soldiers behind in the Second Battle of Ypres in 1915, rescuing two of them but dying while attempting to pull a third to safety.
Lieutenant Shankland’s platoon was taking heavy enemy fire in the Battle of Passchendaele in 1917, but he managed to reach battalion headquarters before returning with reinforcements for a counter-attack. He was the only of the three Winnipeg men to survive the war.
Their heroism led to the renaming of Pine Street to Valour Road in their honour in 1925.
Theirs is a Canadian story that resonates from coast to coast, but is proudly owned by Winnipeg.
This story of valour, of heart, of strength and fearlessness in the face of danger embodies the very traits that make Manitobans the beating heart of the nation. Winnipeg is more than just the geographical centre of North America, it is the very heart of our continent. The people here are tough, hard-working and honest, and they are among the most generous in the country.
This is the common thread that runs through the veins of those who have called Manitoba home through thousands of years: courage and togetherness in the face of adversity.
Clarke, Hall and Shankland’s remarkable story of heroism occurred over 100 years ago, but their courage, honour and pride will never be forgotten.
For Valour, for Winnipeg.