Robert Hill Hanna, a Canadian soldier awarded the Victoria Cross for heroism 100 years ago in World War I, was honoured Thursday with the unveiling of a plaque in Thunderboard Memorial Square in Abbotsford.
Hanna, who died in Abbotsford in 1967, was 30 years old and a Company Sergeant-Major when he and his company encountered heavy resistance during the bloody battle at Hill 70 on Aug. 21, 1917.
“On August 21, 1917, at Hill 70 Lens, France, Company Sergeant-Major Hanna’s company met with most severe enemy resistance at a heavily protected strong point, which had beaten off three assaults and all the officers of the company had become casualties. This warrant officer, under heavy machine-gun and rifle fire, coolly collected and led a party against the strong point, rushed through the wire and personally killed four of the enemy, capturing the position and silencing the machine-gun. This courageous action was responsible for the capture of a most important tactical point.”
Around 100 people turned out for Thursday’s ceremony, which included speeches by local politician and historian Peter Slade, who gave the history of Hill 70.
The plaque “will be a lasting tribute to a man who was humble and came home to raise and sell seed Potatoes in the North Bradner Mount Lehman community,” according to one of the ceremony’s organizers.
See photos from the event below.