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World War II Victoria Cross winner honoured in his hometown

August 2018

In the northern Ontario town of Latchford, the steel arch bridge that allows Provincial Highway 11 to cross over the Montreal River is dedicated to the memory of a long-lost local hero:  Sergeant Aubrey Cosens, V.C.

Cosens is one of only 16 Canadians to be awarded the Victoria Cross during World War II, the highest award for gallantry in the face of the enemy that can be awarded go members of British and Commonwealth militaries in times of war.

Cosens was born in Latchford on 21 May 1921 but shortly afterwards, the family moved a little further north to Porquis Junction.

After leaving school in 1938 at 17, Cosens worked for the Temiskaming and Northern Ontario Railway.  When World War II broke out the following year, Cosens tried to join the Royal Canadian Air Force but was rejected as being too young.

In 1940, Cosens joined The Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders of Canada (Princess Louise’s) and later transferred to the Queen’s Own Rifles of Canada as a Corporal.

Cosens, now a Sergeant, landed at Normanby as part of the D-Day reinforcements in August 1944.

On 25 February 1945, Cosens’ unit took part in an attack on German forces at Mooshof, Germany.  With his platoon commander killed, Cosens to command and lead the four remaining members of his platoon in an attack and capture of three enemy strong points, single-handedly taking a number of prisoners.

Cosens was killed by an enemy sniper while on his way to report to his commanders.  He was 23 years old.

Sergeant Aubrey Cosens was posthumously awarded the Victoria Cross, the highest award for valour in the face of the enemy in British and Commonwealth militaries.

Cosens was buried in Groesbeek Canadian War Cemetery in The Netherlands.

On 31 May 1986, the Town of Latchford dedicated the bridge crossing the Montreal River to the Memory Cosens.

Veterans Park on the north side of the river provides a picnic and rest area, in the shadow of the Sergeant Aubrey Cosens, V.C. Bridge.

Sources:  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aubrey_Cosens, http://www.latchford.ca, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Latchford,_Ontario

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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