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Lieutenant Samuel Honey, VC, MM – Conn area soldier won Victoria Cross in World War I

December 2009

The highest award for bravery in the face of an enemy that can be awarded to members of British and Commonwealth forces is the Victoria Cross. 

The V.C. was first awarded by Queen Victoria in 1856 and since then 1,356 medals have been awarded, with three people being awarded the medal twice.

Samual Honey was born on February 9, 1894 in Conn, Ontario, near Mount Forest, to Rev. George E. Honey and Metta B. Honey. He attended numerous schools in south-western Ontario, including Walkerton High School, in addition to holding teaching positions with Six Nations Indian Reserve in Brantford, when he was only seventeen, and in York County.

When war broke out in 1914, Honey was planning to attend Victoria University in Toronto. He put his academic plans on hold and enlisted with the 34th Battalion (The Highland Light Infantry of Canada) in Guelph in January 1915. By the time the battalion went overseas in October 1915, Honey had been promoted to sergeant.

After serving as an instructor in England, Honey went to France with the 78th Battalion (Winnipeg Grenadiers) in August 1916, where he distinguished himself as an exceptional soldier and leader. Honey was awarded the Military Medal in January 1917 for his actions in raiding German trenches and the Distinguished Conduct Medal for leadership during the Battle of Vimy Ridge in April 1917.

Honey was further recommended for a commission as an officer and subsequently, he attended the Officers’ Training School in England, returning to his unit in France in October 1917 as a lieutenant.

During the Battle of the Canal du Nord in September 1918, Honey earned the Victoria Cross. His citation, as published in The London Gazette on January 6, 1919, reads as follows:

“On 27th September, when his company commander and all other officers of his company had become casualties, Lt. Honey took command and skilfully reorganised under very severe fire. He continued the advance with great dash and gained the objective. Then finding that his company was suffering casualties from enfilade machine-gun fire he located the machine-gun nest and rushed it single-handed, capturing the guns and ten prisoners.

“Subsequently he repelled four enemy counter-attacks and after dark again went out alone, and having located an enemy post, led a party which captured the post and three guns.

“On the 29th September he led his company against a strong enemy position with great skill and daring and continued in the succeeding days of the battle to display the same high example of valour and self-sacrifice.”

Sadly, Samuel Honey would not live to receive his VC.  He died on September 30, 1918, from wounds he received the previous day. He is buried in Quéant Communal Cemetery British Extension in Quéant, France, twenty-five kilometres southeast of Arras. His Victoria Cross and other medals are on display at the Canadian War Museum in Ottawa.

About the author

Bruce Forsyth

Bruce Forsyth served in the Royal Canadian Navy Reserve for 13 years (1987-2000). He served with units in Toronto, Hamilton & Windsor and worked or trained at CFB Esquimalt, CFB Halifax, CFB Petawawa, CFB Kingston, CFB Toronto, Camp Borden, The Burwash Training Area and LFCA Training Centre Meaford.

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