VC hero Claude gets blue plaque

Nunney 2 SUS-170721-133930001
Nunney 2 SUS-170721-133930001

A Hastings born World War One hero has been honoured with a blue commemorative plaque on the Bexhill Road house where he was born.

Claude Nunney was awarded the highest military honour - The Victoria Cross for his dash toward the front-line during a fierce battle for the Drocourt-Queant line in France in 1918.

Nunney 1 SUS-170721-130635001

Nunney 1 SUS-170721-130635001

He sadly died from his wounds a few weeks after the action.

Claude was described as ‘fearless’ in his VC citation.

Claude was born in Hastings but he and his brother were sent to Canada as ‘Home Children’ after his mother died.

He signed up to join the Canadian Army on 8th February 1915. He was a machine gunner in the 38th Canadian Expeditionary Force, which went to France embarking to cross the Channel on 13th August 1916.

Claude, who was known as ‘Red Nunney’ by his comrades, due to his red hair, was involved in the heavy fighting at Vimy Ridge on 8th April 1917 and was awarded a medal for his bravery.

Within the next three months he was taking part in the ongoing fighting around Avion and he was awarded the Military Medal for his bravery.

In April 1918 Claude was one of several soldiers who attempted to rescue the pilot and observer of a German plane that had been shot down and crashed in flames nearby. He suffered burns to his face and to his hands.

He later went into action at Dury when they attacked the very heavily fortified defensive trench system known as the Drocourt Queant Line on 1st September 1918.

The 38th Ottawa Overseas Battalion were successful in their attack which took place on the 1st and 2nd September. Nunney was badly wounded on the second day of the attack.

He was s buried in Aubigny Communal Cemetery.

The plaque was unveiled by Hastings Mayor Judy Rogers in the presence of several generations of Claude’s family along with representatives from the Cameron Highlanders of Ottawa

Canada has many 1914-18 links with Hastings, three of the Canadian Divisions had their headquarters and several hospitals in the town, and there were training bases in both Hastings and Bexhill.

The event was co-ordinated by Councillor Andy Patmore and Peter Silk, who has spent twenty years researching Claude’s life in Hastings, Kentish Town, Lancaster Ontario and France.

Claude Nunney is the only First World War Victoria Cross winner born in Hastings. He was the most highly decorated Private soldier in the Canadian Army in the Great War, being awarded in addition to the Victoria Cross, the Distinguished Conduct Medal at Vimy 1917 and Military Medal at Avion also in 1917.

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