A Centennial Action
The Battle of Fresnoy – May 3, 1917
During the Battle of Fresnoy, Lieutenant Robert Grierson Combe led his company of the 27th Battalion (City of Winnipeg) in attacking the left flank of the Fresnoy Switch. Passing through a heavy barrage that stopped much of his company 500 yards short of the objective, Lt. Combe reached the enemy trench with only five men. Disregarding their inferior numbers, Lt. Combe immediately led his little band bombing through the German positions. When their own supply of grenades ran out, they made use of the many German stick grenades lying about. Capturing 250 yards of trench and approximately 100 prisoners, Lt. Combe’s five-man battle group single-handedly linked up with the 1st Battalion’s (Western Ontario) left flank. As reinforcements finally caught up, Lt. Combe continued to lead his men forward with bomb and bayonet, before he was killed by a sniper. For his leadership and courage that day, Lt. Robert Grierson Combe was posthumously awarded the Victoria Cross.
Lt. Combe, VC was buried in a field cemetery at Acheville, France, but that cemetery was destroyed in subsequent fighting and Combe’s grave lost. He is consequently commemorated on the Vimy Memorial.