30 October 1917 – Victoria Cross Recipients
Centenary Actions

Credit: Nicholson, Canadian Expeditionary Force – 1914-1919, p. 322.

On this day in 1917, the Canadian Expeditionary Force renews its assault at Passchendaele. The plan is to gain what remains of the uncaptured Red Line, and then carry the advance a further 600-700 yards east to the Blue Line. On paper, the Canadians face positions with misleadingly peaceful names such as “Vienna Cottage”, “Crest Farm”, and “Duck Lodge”. But by nightfall, three Canadians have earned the Victoria Cross, while 884 have been killed and 1429 wounded (Nicholson, Canadian Expeditionary Force 1914-1919, p.323).

Cecil John Kinross, VC
Private Cecil John Kinross, VC.
Credit: Canada. Dept. of National Defence/Library and Archives Canada/PA-006734.

Cecil John Kinross of Uxbridge, England, emmigrated to Lougheed, Alberta where he worked on the family farm before enlisting with the 51st (Edmonton) Battalion in 1915. Once in France, he was transferred to the 49th (Edmonton Regiment) Battalion. In October 1916 he was wounded for the first time, taking shrapnel in his arm and neck.

On 30 October 1917, as the 49th Bn. advanced through the Red Line and on to the Blue Line, Kinross’ company was checked by a machine gun position. Surveying the situation, Kinross ducked into cover and stripped off all of his equipment. Now lightened of his load, carrying only his rifle and bandoliers of ammunition, Kinross stole across the pock-marked battlefield, creeping up on the machine gun. Having closed the distance, Kinross rose up and charged the position head on, killing the six-man crew and destroying the gun. Relieved and inspired by his actions, Kinross’ company then advanced another 300 yards, storming two more strongpoints.

Later in the day, Kinross was caught in a shell explosion and suffered serious shrapnel wounds to his right arm and left temporal region of his head. These wounds ultimately left him medically unfit for service, leading to his discharge in February 1919.

Cecil John Kinross, VC passed away in Lougheed, Alberta in 1957. Mount Kinross in the Canadian Rockies’ Victoria Cross Ranges is named in his honour.
The official Victoria Cross citation of Private Cecil John Kinross (last entry at bottom of left-hand column).
Credit: The London Gazette, Publication date: 8 January 1918, Supplement: 30471, Page: 724.
The “Medical History Of An Invalid” form in Kinross’ service file indicates his injuries had long-lasting effects on his body.
Credit: Library And Archives Canada, Reference: RG 150, Accession 1992-93/166, Box 5190 – 38, Item Number: 500752, Record Group: Canadian Expeditionary Force (CEF), p. 11.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hugh McKenzie, VC, DCM

Lt. Hugh McKenzie, VC, DCM.
Credit: Canada. Department of National Defence, 2017.

Born in Inverness, Scotland, Hugh McKenzie immigrated to Verdun, Quebec in 1911. With six years of service in various artillery units, Hugh enlisted almost immediately, on 12 August 1914.

By 22 May 1915, McKenzie had landed at Rouen, France. On 11 March 1916, he was awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal (see citation from service file). He later received the French Croix de Guerre and a Lieutenant’s commission. Having initially enlisted with the Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry (PPCLI), he was later transferred to the 7th Canadian Machine Gun Company in the field.

The official London Gazette citation for Hugh McKenzie’s Distinguished Conduct Medal, copied into his service file.
Credit: Library and Archives Canada. Reference: RG 150, Accession 1992-93/166, Box 6960 – 28, Item Number: 165108, Record Group: Canadian Expeditionary Force (CEF), p. 11.

On 30 October 1917, while the PPCLI attacked the crossroads at Meetcheele, McKenzie and his section of 7th CMGC guns advanced alongside them in close support. When German machine gun pillboxes beside the road cut into the PPCLI, McKenzie saw the leading officers of his old unit fall and the entire company begin to falter. Acting quickly, McKenzie left command of his gun section to a Corporal and assumed control of the infantry. Rallying the PPCLI, McKenzie reconnoitered the positions and sent out flanking parties, one of which included Sergeant G.H. Mullin, who would receive a Victoria Cross for his actions as well. With the men in position, McKenzie placed himself at the head of the frontal assault and charged. With McKenzie drawing the attention of the enemy, the flanking parties made quick work of the position, but not before McKenzie was shot and killed.

For his actions that day, Hugh McKenzie was posthumously awarded the Victoria Cross. His body was lost during the subsequent fighting in the quagmire of the Passchendaele battlefield. He is commemorated on Panel 31 of the Ypres (Menin Gate) Memorial.

The telegram to Hugh’s wife, Marjorie, detailing that he has been reported missing and believed killed.
Credit: Library and Archives Canada. Reference: RG 150, Accession 1992-93/166, Box 6960 – 28, Item Number: 165108, Record Group: Canadian Expeditionary Force (CEF), p. 26.
The official Victoria Cross citation of Lt. Hugh McKenzie, VC, DCM (entry begins in right-hand column).
Credit: The London Gazette, Publication date: 12 February 1918, Supplement: 30523, Page: 2003.
The official Victoria Cross citation of Lt. Hugh McKenzie, VC, DCM (entry begins in right-hand column).
Credit: The London Gazette, Publication date: 12 February 1918, Supplement: 30523, Page: 2004.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

George Harry Mullin, VC, MM

Sergeant George Mullin photographed in the field, displaying the Victoria Cross ribbon and one wound stripe on his uniform. January 1918.
Credit: Canada. Dept. of National Defence/Library and Archives Canada/PA-002361.

George Harry Mullin was born in Portland, Oregon. His family moved to Moosomin, Saskatchewan when George was two years old, where he later worked as a farmer before enlisting. On 14 December 1914, George enlisted in Winnipeg with the 32nd Battalion, later joining the Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry (PPCLI).

In June 1916, Mullin suffered gunshot wounds to the forehead, ear and groin. Evacuated to England, he recovered over two months, convalescing at Dartford and Epsom. Rejoining the PPCLI, Mullin received the Military Medal for bravery in the field in late 1916. He was soon promoted from Private to Corporal. By August 1917 he had reached the rank of Sergeant.

On 30 October 1917, Mullin was with the company of PPCLI held up by the machine guns in pillboxes at the Meetcheele crossroads, as described in the above account of Lt. McKenzie. When Lt. McKenzie left his machine guns to come take charge of the faltering PPCLI, Sgt. Mullin was tasked to one of the flanking parties. While McKenzie prepared his charge from the front, Mullin crawled out to the flank on his own reconnoiter. As the attack went in, with McKenzie charging head on, Mullin ambushed and destroyed a sniper’s post before crawling up on top of the concrete pillbox itself. In full view of the other Canadians rushing the post, Mullin used his revolver to eliminate the two German machine gunners, before jumping down from the pillbox roof and taking the surrender of the remaining ten defenders. The troublesome pillbox had been eliminated, but not before Lt. McKenzie was shot and killed in his courageous charge.

For his actions that day, Sergeant Mullin was awarded the Victoria Cross. He survived the war, ending his service with the rank of Lieutenant, and returned to Saskatchewan, passing away in 1963.

The official London Gazette citation for George Mullin’s Victoria Cross, copied into his service file.
Credit: Library And Archives Canada. Reference: RG 150, Accession 1992-93/166, Box 6474 – 21, Item Number: 206507, Record Group: Canadian Expeditionary Force (CEF), p. 3.