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Valour Road VCs coming to Winnipeg

Manitoba Museum to display medals

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Frederick Hall, Leo Clarke and Robert Shankland lived on Pine Street when they enlisted to serve in the First World War. The soldiers received the Victoria Cross for their bravery in battle.

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Frederick Hall, Leo Clarke and Robert Shankland lived on Pine Street when they enlisted to serve in the First World War. The soldiers received the Victoria Cross for their bravery in battle.

Three Victoria Cross medals awarded to First World War soldiers living on the same Winnipeg street will be in the city for the first time together.

From Aug. 6 to Nov. 14, the Manitoba Museum will display the original medals awarded to the three soldiers who lived on the same block of what is now Valour Road in the West End.

The medals, for extreme bravery, were awarded to Cpl. Leo Clarke, Sgt.-Maj. Frederick William Hall, and Lt. Robert Shankland.

Because all three lived on what was then Pine Street at the time of their enlistment, the street was later renamed Valour Road.

The Victoria Cross is the highest military decoration awarded to Commonwealth military personnel. It was introduced by Queen Victoria in 1856 during the Crimean War.

Clarke and Hall were killed during the war. Hall died while trying to save an injured soldier, an act that earned him the medal.

Clarke received the honour during the Battle of the Somme when he was alone in enemy trenches being attacked by almost two dozen enemy soldiers. He emptied his revolver twice and also fired a German rifle he found on the ground, killing four and taking a prisoner while also being bayoneted in the knee. He was ordered into a hospital, but he returned to battle the next day. He was killed a month later.

Shankland was honoured because during the Battle of Passchendaele, he was able to regroup his men and others from different battalions to hold off a counterattack. He made his way alone to headquarters with a request for reinforcements and a plan to attack before going back and rejoining his troops.

Shankland survived the war and returned to Winnipeg. He re-enlisted during the Second World War. He died in 1968.

The Canadian War Museum had to pay more than $280,000 for Shankland's medal in 2009. Clarke's medal was donated in 2010, and Hall's medal was acquired by the museum in 2012.

Maj.-Gen. Dennis Tabbernor (Ret.), of the Royal Military Institute of Manitoba, said the three medals are a piece of history that only came together in recent years.

"The Canadian War Museum just got all three medals a couple of years ago," Tabbernor said on Monday.

"This will probably be the first time that the three medals have actually been here in Winnipeg. Pine Street was renamed Valour Road because of these three."

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition May 27, 2014 B4

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