I'll call him Beau for ease of typing. He started his life in Canada, born to English parents, who would take their child and move back to England very early in Beau's life. But by the age of about 11 he was back in Canada. And after some serious education Beau became an engineer and found work as a surveyor with the railway in Canada's northland.
Then came the call men to serve both his countries in WW1. Beau proudly walked into the recruiting office and signed up with the 27th Battalion Canadian Expeditionary Force and soon he was back in England. Not long after he would be at the western Front, but by then he had transferred to the 2nd Battalion CEF to be with a serving brother named Charlie.
Here are images of Beau with his first unit cap badge, that of the 27th and his later regiment, the 2nd Battalion CEF.
By September of 1916 Beau found himself and unit facing the deadly trenches of the Germans in the Battle that came to be known as Flers-Courcelette. He had only been in the unit about 15 months at the time and no doubt proved his worth such that he was already wearing the rank of an acting Corporal.
His unit was ordered to take a trench that was heavily fortified and about 150 yards long, his section of course being much smaller. When the order came down, over the top his men went from their own breastworks and moved towards the obstacle..under very heavy rifle and artillery fire. And his men did not carry any rifles! They called themselves bombers as all they has were handfuls of 'Bombs"... hand grenades. Beau also carried a .45 automatic Colt pistol, that he had purchased himself.
Soon Beau realized that he was the only man standing as all his crew had fallen either dead or wounded. Nevertheless he pushed on with even more furry and then out of the back of the trench 20 Germans appeared but he just kept throwing bombs and even picked up two German rifles along the way and empty their shells into the enemy Soon all but one were dead of the ground. He brought the last man back as a POW, even though badly wounded by a bayonet scrape to the leg.
A month later Beau's unit was order to capture part of the German occupied trench lines that the Canadians dubbed... the Regina Trench. This line of trenches had passed back and forth several times between both sides and thousands died trying to take or hold it. On 11 October 1916 the Allies were trying to retake it and had called down Artillery fire for hours... as had the Germans when things started going bad.
And bad they were for Beau, who had arrived in a part of the trench and huddled against a wall to escape the potential dangers of all the shells dropping . One landed close by and caved in the back wall and instantly buried Beau. Brother Charlie raced to his aid and when he finally found and dug his brother out, the Cpl. exclaimed that he knew Charlie would find him. But his back and spine were crushed and he had to be med evacuated to friendly lines and an aide station for recovery.
It was around that time that his officers recommended Beau for the Victoria Cross. And about the same time that he would be quoted in the press saying that "I don't care so much for the Victoria Cross, as getting home for a couple of months."
Beau would never see home again and sadly passed away as result of his battle wounds on 19 October 1916.
In 1917 the Governor General of Canada presented the Victoria Cross posthumously to the family at a ceremony said to have over 30,000 in attendance. It was one of the few time in the history of the medal that it was actually presented on Canadian soil. It now rests at the War Museum at Ottawa. But don't ask to see Beaumaurice's medal. It is doubtful anyone will know what you are talking about.
The Victoria Cross was issued to him under his nickname.... and that was Leo. And you may well have heard of Leo...Clarke... one of the three WW1 VC recipients who all lived on Pine Street in Winnipeg in the 700 block. The same street that had its name changed to Valour Road back in 1925 in honour of Beau...oops...Leo, and his comrades... Frederick William Hall and Robert Shankland.
Cpl Lionel (Leo) Beaumaurice Clarke performed his deed that resulted in the posthumous awarading of the VC exactly 96 years ago today.