|Claude Joseph Patrick Nunney|
24 December 1892|
|Died||18 September 1918
|Buried at||Aubigny Communal Cemetery Extension, near Aubigny-en-Artois|
|Service/branch||Canadian Expeditionary Force|
|Years of service||1915–1918|
|Unit||38th Battalion, CEF|
|Battles/wars||First World War|
Distinguished Conduct Medal
Claude Joseph Patrick Nunney VC, DCM, MM (24 December 1892 – 18 September 1918) was a recipient of the Victoria Cross, the highest award for gallantry in the face of the enemy that can be awarded to British and Commonwealth forces. Born in Dublin, Ireland, by birth he was Irish but became a Canadian citizen by naturalization.
Nunney was one of the seven Canadians to be awarded the Victoria Cross for their actions on one single day, 2 September 1918, for actions across the 30 km long Drocourt-Quéant Line near Arras, France. The other six were Bellenden Hutcheson, Arthur George Knight, William Henry Metcalf, Cyrus Wesley Peck, Walter Leigh Rayfield and John Francis Young.
There has been some debate as to Nunney's origins. Whilst Nunney himself stated he was born in Dublin, Ireland, it is claimed he was actually born in Hastings, England as Stephen Sargent Claude Nunney. Also it is claimed that Nunney did not become a Canadian citizen by naturalisation, but by becoming part of a child emigration scheme known as British Home Children.[by whom?]
Dave Lorente (Homechildren Canada) wrote in an article on Claude:
It is interesting to speculate how Claude Nunney would answer, were he alive today and asked to give his first names, DOB and birthplace, because for some unknown reason or reasons he knowingly or unwittingly gave false information when he joined up in World War I. Perhaps it was because, like so many other Home Children, he had lost his baptismal record and/or birth certificate. ... [H]is birth certificate shows he was actually born in Hastings, England – not in Dublin as his military Attestation papers show. Nor was he Irish...and his name was not Claude Joseph Patrick Nunney as he stated but Stephen Sargent Claude Nunney' – the 'Sargent' being his mother's maiden name. His birthdate was also wrong and he came to Canada as Stephen – not Claude. All that said, none of it detracts in any way from the brave things he did during World War I when he became one of 'Canada's Magnificent Seven' and won the former Empire and Commonwealth's highest award for bravery in the ranks.
Nunney was a member of the 38th (Ottawa) Battalion, Canadian Expeditionary Force which is perpetuated by the Cameron Highlanders of Ottawa (Duke of Edinburgh's Own). The Cameron Highlanders are a Canadian Forces Primary Reserve light infantry regiment located in the Cartier Square Drill Hall. Nunney was a private in the First World War when the following deeds took place for which he was awarded the VC:
For most conspicuous bravery during the operations against the Drocourt-Quéant Line on Sept. 1st and 2nd, 1918.
On Sept. 1st, when his battalion was in the vicinity of Vis-en-Artois, preparatory to the advance, the enemy laid down a heavy barrage and counter-attacked. Pte. Nunney, who was at this time at company headquarters, immediately on his own initiative proceeded through the barrage to the company outpost lines, going from post to post and encouraging the men by his own fearless example. The enemy were repulsed and a critical situation was saved.
During the attack on Sept. 2nd, his dash continually placed him in advance of his companions, and his fearless example undoubtedly helped greatly to carry the company forward to its objectives. When his battalion which was preparing to advance, was heavily counter-attacked by the enemy, Private Nunney on his own initiative, went forward through the barrage to the company out-post lines, going from post to post and encouraging the men by his own fearless example.
He died aged 25, 16 days after receiving what proved to be mortal wounds and was buried at Aubigny Communal Cemetery Extension, near Aubigny-en-Artois (Grave reference number IV. B. 39).
All of Nunney's medals (he had earlier in the war won the Military Medal and the Distinguished Conduct Medal at the Battle of Vimy Ridge), including his VC are displayed above the fireplace at Cornwall Armoury in Cornwall, Ontario.
Listed in order of publication year
- The Register of the Victoria Cross (1981, 1988 and 1997)
- Clarke, Brian D. H. (1986). "A register of awards to Irish-born officers and men". The Irish Sword XVI (64): 185–287.
- Irelands VCs ISBN 1-899243-00-3 (Dept of Economic Development 1995)
- Monuments to Courage (David Harvey, 1999)
- Irish Winners of the Victoria Cross (Richard Doherty & David Truesdale, 2000)