Claude Nunney (1892-1918)
Claude Nunney was born in Hastings in 1892 and spent his early years at 42 Bexhill Road prior to leaving Hastings with the British Home Children following the death of his mother and a spell as a ward of the Catholic Church for a new life in Canada.
He served with the Canadian Expeditionary Force (C.E.F) during WW1, becoming one of the first to enrol with the 38th Canadian Expeditionary Force. Before earning his Victoria Cross, Private Claude Nunney had already received the Distinguished Conduct Medal and the Military Medal during 1917. Private Nunney was awarded the Victoria Cross posthumously for the dash and steadfast example he demonstrated on 1 and 2 September 1918 during the fighting at the Drocourt-Quéant Line in France.
Action leading to award of Victoria Cross
On 1 September, near Vis-en-Artois, the positions that had recently been captured by the Canadians were subjected to a heavy enemy artillery barrage and a counterattack. On his own initiative, Nunney left his company’s main line and went forward through the barrage to its outpost line. Here he went from position to position giving encouragement to his comrades. The next day, Private Nunney’s conduct helped to inspire his company to carry its objective. Having sustained severe wounds to his face and neck on that day, Nunney died on 18 September 1918, and is buried in Aubigny en Artois Cemetery.
On the 2nd of September, 2018, a Victoria Cross paving stone at the War Memorial in Alexandra Park was unveiled by the Lord Lieutenant of East Sussex in a ceremony organised to coincide with the one hundredth anniversary of Claude's exhibition of courage. A further memorial to Claude was erected in the Vis-en-Artois town square in 2018, and a permanent museum entered the planning phase in 2020, dedicated to "Canada's Highways of Heroes" as of 2020.
The 544 (Lancaster) Branch of the Royal Canadian Legion is also named in his honour, a memorial to Claude Nunney being located at the ‘four corners’ in North Lancaster, Ontario