Calls to honour St Leonards soldier from WW1 with new Blue Plaque

Claude Nunney. Picture from Canadian Archives
Claude Nunney. Picture from Canadian Archives

Calls to have a Blue Plaque placed in St Leonards to commemorate the town’s only winner of the Victoria Cross (VC) during the First World War have been given unanimous approval.

Councillors Andy Patmore and Rob Lee put forward the motion at a council meeting last Wednesday (October 26) to honour Private Claude Nunney.

The motion called for the plaque to be placed on 447 Bexhill Road.

Cllr Patmore said: “Claude Nunney was the most decorated ordinary private soldier in the Canadian Army in the First World War and he is the only Great War VC born in our town.

“He is such a significant and proud part of this town’s history and must be commemorated with a Blue Plaque. It would be astonishing if the only Victoria Cross victor of the Great War to be born in this town wasn’t commemorated in this way.

“What would also be important to commemorate on the Blue Plaque is that he was one of more than 100,000 juvenile migrants, known as Home Children, sent to Canada from the British Isles during the child emigration movement between 1869 and the late 1930s. Motivated by social and economic forces, churches and philanthropic organisations sent orphaned, abandoned and pauper children to Canada.

“On July 19, 2017 it will be the 125th anniversary of his birth. Local resident, Peter Silk has spent 12 years documenting and researching the life of Claude Nunney and needed the support of Hastings Borough Council to bring to prominence one of the town’s most prominent war heroes. With volunteer and charitable help this Blue Plaque would be a significant addition to the plaques already in place in Hastings and St Leonards and form a lasting and proud reminder of the sacrifices men like Claude Nunney gave for the freedoms we enjoy today.”

Pte Nunney was a member of the 38th (Ottawa) Battalion, Canadian Expeditionary Force. He was awarded the VC for his actions during the operations against the Drocourt-Quéant Line near Vis-en-Artois in France at the start of September 1918, where he led his men to victory despite coming under heavy German fire. Pte Nunney died on September 18, 1918, aged 25. Earlier in the war he won the Military Medal and the Distinguished Conduct Medal at the Battle of Vimy Ridge in April 1917.

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