• Samantha Cowan

An Awe-Inspiring Story Stands Behind Valour Road in Winnipeg, Manitoba


[From Left: Clarke, Hall, & Shankland, supplied by Canadian Geographic, Ja14]. They lived a mere steps between eachother, they may have known each other well, but many Canadians do not know that there was in fact three boys, who had happened to all grew up on Pine Street in Winnipeg, Manitoba, that would go on to display three incredible acts of valourin the First World War. The bustling city of Winnipeg in the early 1900's raised the three boys to lead normal lives, one becoming a shipping clerk, the other a railroad surveyor, and the last, a frontsman at a creamery. But when the Great War began, they were summoned along with the 600,000 other young men overseas to fight. The shipping clerk, a young man named Freddy Hall, became part of the battalion of Canadians defending the Ypres Salient. A front line had enveloped around the town, and the German infantry clashed violently with Allied forces. Fighting was relentless, with neither side giving way, until, on April 22nd, 5,730 canisters of chlorine gas was unleashed by the Germans on allied forces. The death was agonizing, long, and of unspeakable proportions. On the second day of attack, in the midst of yet another gas attack, the now Sergeant Major Frederick Hall realized two of his soldiers were missing. His only choice was to climb out of the trench, onto no man's land to recover them, which he did, crawling through the mud, bullets whizzing past. The following morning, upon hearing another soldier groaning and in need of recovery, two men in Hall's company ventured out for rescue. They were both hit by gunfire. It was Frederick Hall who manage to crawl out and pull the wounded to shelter, before being killed himself. His Victoria Cross was posthumously presented to his mother on Pine Street, Winnipeg. The Railroad Surveyor, Lionel "Leo" Clarke, Freddy's neighbour back home, found himself on the Battle of the Somme, an epic disaster that an eradicated almost 60,000 young men on the first day alone. Faced with close-range fighting, and after being stabbed in the leg, Clarke, alone and surrounded, counter attacked single handedly and managed to kill or capture 19 German soldiers. Clarke was killed two months later at only 23 years old. His Victoria Cross was posthumously presented to his father on Pine Street, WInnipeg. Robert Shankland, the front desk man of the local creamery, was not prepared for where he had found himself; in the throws of the third battle of Ypres, the battle of Passchendaele was a tremdnous sacrifice with a suicidal attack plan. However, while leading his his platoon forward, Shankland encountered heavy fire threatening his very men. Shankland fought his way back to headquarters and returned with reinforcements, saving everyone in his platoon. Unlike his neighbours Freddy and Lionel, Robert survived the war, and was awarded and presented the Victoria Cross for such courage under fire. In 1925, Pine Street was renamed to "Valour Road" for the incredible acts of bravery performed by these three men. Today, you will find a memorial plaza commemorating the three men at the corner of Sargent Avenue and Valour Road. Every November, Winnipeg gathers tofether here for Remembrance Day. This year, "The Boys of Pine Street"'s Victoria Crosses can all be seen at the Manitoba Museum, loaned from the Canadian War Museum.


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