With November 11th quickly approaching I thought that I would highlight a few Victoria Cross winners that were also involved in Scouting. While there were many brave soldiers that were associated with Scouting, I was impressed with the actions of some individuals that strongly reflect what I feel is Scouting spirit.
John Weir Foote was born in Madoc Ontario on May 5th, 1904. It was here that he was involved with Scouting. By 1934 he had joined the church as a Presbyterian minister and served congregations in both Fort-Coulonge, Quebec and Port Hope, Ontario. When war broke out in 1939 he answered the call for volunteers and enlisted in the Canadian Army. He was posted to The Royal Hamilton Light Infantry (RHLI) as chaplain with the rank of Honorary Captain.
He traveled with the regiment to England and on August 19th, 1942 he landed on the beach at Dieppe, France as part of the raid there. During the following 8 hours of battle he showed a selfless “duty to others” calmly walking the beaches helping to collect the wounded and deliver them to the first aid post all the time under fire. As the battle drew to a close he chose to return to the beachhead to stay with those not able to be evacuated or had been captured. Bravely he walked into a German position and surrendered. He would remain in captivity until May 5th, 1945 (his 41st birthday).
Below is the gazette awarding his VC in 1946:
DEPARTMENT OF NATIONAL DEFENCE, OTTAWA.
14th February, 1946.
THE CANADIAN ARMY.
The KING has been graciously pleased to approve the award of the VICTORIA CROSS to: —
Honorary Captain John Weir FOOTE, Canadian Chaplain Services.
At Dieppe, on 19th August, 1942, Honorary Captain Foote, Canadian Chaplain Services, was Regimental Chaplain with the Royal Hamilton Light Infantry.
Upon landing on the beach under heavy fire he attached himself to the Regimental Aid Post which had been set up in a slight depression on the beach, but which was only sufficient to give cover to men lying down. During the subsequent period of approximately eight hours, while the action continued, this officer not only assisted the Regimental Medical Officer in ministering to the wounded in the Regimental Aid Post, but time and again left this shelter to inject morphine, give first-aid and carry wounded personnel from the open beach to the Regimental Aid Post. On these occasions, with utter disregard for his personal safety, Honorary Captain Foote exposed himself to an inferno of fire and saved many lives by his gallant efforts. During the action, as the tide went out, the Regimental Aid Post was moved to the shelter of a stranded landing craft. Honorary Captain Foote continued tirelessly and courageously to carry wounded men from the exposed beach to the cover of the landing craft. He also removed wounded from inside the landing craft when ammunition had been set on fire by enemy shells. When landing craft appeared he carried wounded from the Regimental Aid Post to the landing craft through very heavy fire.
On several occasions this officer had the opportunity to embark but returned to the beach as his chief concern was the care and evacuation of the wounded. He refused a final opportunity to leave the shore, choosing to suffer the fate of the men he had ministered to for over three years.
Honorary Captain Foote personally saved many lives by his efforts and his example inspired all around him. Those who observed him state that the calmness of this heroic officer, as he walked about, collecting the wounded on the fire-swept beach will never be forgotten.
His service to the men he cared for is truly an inspiration and a stellar example of duty to others.
Please remember to take time to this coming November 11th to pause and give thanks for the freedoms that we enjoy because for the actions of men like Honorary Captain Foote and the many others like him.
Until next time…
Be safe, be prepared, and Remember!