Victoria Cross - First World War, 1914-1918

Robert Hanna

Robert Hanna

Robert Hanna was born in Kilkeel, Ireland on 6 August 1886, and came to Canada in 1905. He joined the Canadian Expeditionary Force during the First World War, and by the summer of 1917 was a Company Sergeant-Major (CSM) serving with the 29th Infantry Battalion.

On 21 August 1917 CSM Hanna’s company was attempting to overpower a German strongpoint on Hill 70, near Lens in France. In the course of three assaults on the enemy position, the company had suffered several casualties, including the loss of all of its officers. While his company continued to take casualties from the heavy machine gun fire coming from the strongpoint, Hanna calmly collected a party of men and led them in a fourth attack, rushing through the dense barbed wire protecting the position. When he arrived inside the strongpoint, CSM Hanna bayoneted three of the enemy and clubbed a fourth with his rifle, enabling the position and its machine gun to be captured.

For the bravery and leadership he demonstrated in this action, Hanna received the Victoria Cross. He died in Mount Lehman, British Columbia on 15 June 1967.


“For most conspicuous bravery in attack, when his company met with most severe enemy resistance and all the company officers became casualties. A strong point, heavily protected by wire and held by a machine gun, had beaten off three assaults of the company with heavy casualties. This Warrant Officer under heavy machine gun and rifle fire, coolly collected a party of men, and leading them against this strong point, rushed through the wire and personally bayonetted three of the enemy and brained the fourth, capturing the position and silencing the machine gun.

This most courageous action, displayed courage and personal bravery of the highest order at this most critical moment of the attack, was responsible for the capture of a most important tactical point, and but for his daring action and determined handling of a desperate situation the attack would not have succeeded.

C.S./M. Hanna’s outstanding gallantry, personal courage and determined leading of his company is deserving of the highest possible reward.”

(London Gazette, no.30372, 8 November 1917)


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