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Canada's Victoria Cross Recipients

Second World WarRECIPIENTS

Squadron Leader Ian Bazalgette

635 Squadron, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve, Second World War

Bazalgette was born in Calgary, Alberta on 19 October 1918. He received the Victoria Cross for his actions on 4 August 1944 as master bomber with an RAF Pathfinder squadron. Despite his plane being seriously damaged by anti-aircraft fire, Bazalgette continued on to successfully mark an important target for the main bomber force. Ordering his crew to bail out, Bazalgette landed the burning aircraft in the French countryside but was killed when it exploded on the ground.

Sergeant Aubrey Cosens

Queen’s Own Rifles of Canada – Mooshof, Germany, Second World War

Cosens was born in Latchford, Ontario on 21 May 1921. He received the Victoria Cross for actions on 25-26 February 1945. Cosens took command of his platoon after the platoon commander was killed. He ran across open ground to direct a tank to fire on German strongpoints, then entered three buildings killing the occupants or taking them prisoner. Cosens was killed by a sniper shortly after.

Major David Currie

29th Armoured Reconnaissance Regiment (The South Alberta Regiment) – St-Lambert-sur-Dives, France, Normandy Campaign, Second World War

Born in Sutherland, Saskatchewan on 8 July 1912, Currie was a Militia member before the war. Serving with the 29th Armoured Reconnaissance Regiment, he earned the Victoria Cross on 18 August 1944 for his part in organizing an attack to capture the key village of St. Lambert-sur-Dives during attempts to cut off the German army’s escape from the Falaise pocket. Currie died on 24 June 1986 in Ottawa.

Padre John Foote

Royal Hamilton Light Infantry – Dieppe, France, Second World War

Foote was born on 5 May 1904 in Madoc, Ontario. He received the Victoria Cross for his actions during the Dieppe Raid on 19 August 1942. Foote helped the medical officer collect and tend to the wounded on the beach under intense fire. He also assisted with the loading of the wounded onto landing craft for evacuation but stayed behind to minister to those who became prisoners of war. On 2 May 1988 Foote died in Hamilton.

Lieutenant Robert Gray

Royal Navy Fleet Air Arm – Onagawa Wan, Japan, Second World War

Gray was born on 2 November 1917 in Trail, British Columbia. He received the Victoria Cross for his actions on 9 August 1945. While leading eight fighters on a mission to bomb Japanese shipping, his plane was hit by intense anti-aircraft fire. Gray kept up his low-level attack and sank a Japanese escort vessel with his remaining bombs before his plane crashed into the bay. Gray did not survive.

Major Charles Hoey

1st Battalion, The Lincolnshire Regiment, British Army – Maungdaw, Burma, Second World War

Hoey was born in Duncan, British Columbia on 29 March 1914. He received the Victoria Cross for his actions on 17 February 1944. Hoey’s company was part of a force ordered to capture a Japanese position at any cost. He led his company forward under heavy fire and, despite being wounded twice, he was the first to reach the enemy post, killing all its occupants before being mortally wounded himself.

Flight Lieutenant David Hornell

162 Squadron, Royal Canadian Air Force – North Atlantic, Second World War

Hornell was born in Toronto, Ontario on 26 January 1910. He received the Victoria Cross for his actions on 24 June 1944. On a reconnaissance flight, Hornell successfully depth charged and sank an enemy submarine. Badly damaged by anti-aircraft fire, Hornell landed the plane in the sea and the crew jumped into the icy Atlantic, taking turns in the one serviceable life raft. They were rescued after 21 hours but attempts to revive the blinded and exhausted Hornell failed.

Major John Mahony

The Westminster Regiment – Melfa River, Italy, Second World War

Mahony was born in New Westminster, British Columbia on 30 June 1911. He received the Victoria Cross for actions on 24 May 1944. Mahony’s company was tasked with securing a bridgehead over the Melfa River. Despite fierce enemy resistance and being wounded three times, Mahony tirelessly led his troops until reinforcements arrived. On 15 December 1990, Mahony died in London, Ontario.

Lieutenant Colonel Charles Merritt

The South Saskatchewan Regiment – Dieppe, France, Second World War

Merritt was born in Vancouver, British Columbia on 10 November 1908. He received the Victoria Cross for actions on 19 August 1942. Merritt walked back and forth across a bridge under fire leading his men to the other side, led uphill assaults on several pillboxes, and, despite being twice wounded, organized the withdrawal from the beaches. Holding off the enemy while his men were evacuated, he became a prisoner of war. On 12 July 2000, he died in Vancouver.

Pilot Officer Andrew Mynarski

419 Squadron, Royal Canadian Air Force –Cambrai, France, Second World War

Mynarski was born in Winnipeg, Manitoba on 14 October 1916. He received the Victoria Cross for actions on 12-13 June 1944. Ordered to abandon his burning plane on a bombing mission over France, Mynarski attempted to free the trapped rear gunner, despite his clothing catching fire. Unable to release the gunner, Mynarski bailed out but later died of his burns. The rear gunner survived the crash and was picked up by the French resistance.

- All portraits painted by Sharif Tarabay -

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