If you could turn left as you face the plaque, and walk off to the left and do a short swim... of a few thousand miles, then head overland another short distance..but stop when you have finally traveled to about the 8,500 mile mark you will find yourself pretty close to the Ukraine and therein the Crimean, and possibly might even end up near the Valley of Death, made famous by Alfred Lord Tennyson in 1854.
Before you head off, look around you and within a few blocks of that sign is where Alexander Dunn spent his youth.
Dunn's heroism was rewarded for actions in the Valley of Death during the famous Charge of the Light Brigade on 25 October 1854.
Dunn was educated at a private boys school at Toronto and shortly after his mother's death the family moved to London England where he completed his education.
At the age of 19 his wealthy father purchased him a commission in the British army where he would receive his basic training and then be commissioned a full Lieutenant with the 11th Hussars (Prince Albert's Own Regiment of Light Dragoons). In 1854 his regiment and others would sail to Russia and the 11th would play a major role in the Charge of the Light Brigade. As the officer in charge of F Troop of the 11th, Dunn would lead about 125 men on what any strategist would have called a suicide mission. The entire charge of some 630 men on horseback were supposed to be going off in one direction but because of a family fude between two powerful officers who were brother's in law, and hating each other, directions got screwed up and the men were forced to proceed on the mission under excrutiating deady fire from the left and right and ultimately the front. Cannons of the left cannons of the right, Cannons to the front..as Tennyson would later make famous.
The few that were still alive by the time they had gotten to the far left charged through what openings they could find and then had to deal with Russian mounted cavalry that would begin to take its toll.
Dunn would soon turn this weapon onto two others attacking his sergeant and ran them through with his sword. As he turned he found a private in his unit on the ground and in a heck of a fight with Russians and went to that fellow's rescue also and killed at least one Russian in the process.
The British then had to reverse their direction and again charge through cannon fire enroute back to their start point.
Wen all was said and one... only 25 of the 110 who went into battle with the 11th were still alive. Of the 630 in all units, 156 had been killed or missing, 135 would be wounded and 14 taken prisoner. Over 500 horses lay dead on the battle field.
Dunn, pictured to the right, would be paraded before Queen Victoria at London in June of 1857 in the first ever awarding of Victoria Crosses. She would ride her horse along side each man and bend over and actually pin the cross to the chest of 62 men. Dunn would be the 17th in history to actually receive his, and as above noted it would be the first for Canada.
Others who could not attend the historic ceremony, but were also to be presented with a VC would have their own ceremonies elsewhere in the world, wherever they were stationed at the time. In a previous blog on this site is the story Phillip Smith's presentation in Montreal later in 1857.
Col. Dunn would die in Abyssinia in a rather strange accident that still has yet to solve eveyone's curiousity. It was claimed that he was killed in a hunting accident when his weapon discharged, but some think that perhaps someone else, yet to be determined, helped in it's discharge.
His grave was left unattended for many years and was discovered in 1945.
Many years later it was said to have again been discovered and that the area was then being used as a garbage dump.
In 2001 several Canadian Forces Engineers went out of their way to find the grave and clean up the area as best they could. They even created a cairn in Dunn's honour complete with a cross, as you see in this picture. Kudo's to each of these soldiers.
There are thoughts in some circles that the body should be exhumed and repatriated back to Canada, but it is unknown what has been done about this.
Alexander Dunn's Royal Gazette, as you can see from above, was published on 24 February 1857, 156 years ago yesterday.