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Canadian Virtual War Memorial

Hugh Cairns

In memory of:

Sergeant Hugh Cairns

November 2, 1918


Valenciennes, France

Military Service


Service Number:

472168

Age:

21

Force:

Army

Unit:

Canadian Infantry (Saskatchewan Regiment)

Division:

46th Battalion

Citation(s):

An extract from "The London Gazette," No. 31155, dated January 28, 1919, records the following:

For most conspicuous bravery before Valenciennes on 1st November, 1918, when a machine gun opened on his platoon. Without a moment's hesitation Serjt. Cairns seized a Lewis gun and single-handed in the face of direct fire, rushed the post, killed the crew of five, and captured the gun. Later, when the line was held up by machine-gun fire, he again rushed forward, killing 12 enemy and capturing 18 and two guns. Subsequently when the advance was held up by machine-guns and field guns, although wounded, he led a small party to outflank them, killing many, forcing about 50 to surrender, and capturing all the guns. After consolidation he went with a battle patrol to exploit Marly and forced 60 enemy to surrender. Whilst disarming this party he was severely wounded. Nevertheless he opened fire and inflicted heavy losses. Finally he was rushed by about 20 enemy and collapsed from weakness and loss of blood. Throughout the operation he showed the highest degree of valour, and his leadership greatly contributed to the success of the attack. He died on the 2nd November from wounds. Distinguished Conduct Medal

Honours and Awards:

Victoria Cross

Distinguished Conduct Medal

Additional Information


Born:

December 4, 1896
Newcastle-on-Tyne, England

Enlistment:

August 2, 1915
Saskatoon, Saskatchewan

Son of George H. and Elizabeth D. Cairns, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. Brother of Corporal Albert Cairns, 46th battalion, died of wounds on 10 September 1918.

Mr. and Mrs. Cairns attended a civic ceremony at Valenciennes, France on July 25, 1936 for the naming of a street in the city L'avenue Hugh Cairns. It was in memory of their son who earned the Victoria Cross but gave his life in the capture of the city from the Germans.

Commemorated on Page 378 of the First World War Book of Remembrance. Request a copy of this page. Download high resolution copy of this page.

Hugh Cairns is a recipient of the Victoria Cross.
Complete list of Canadian Victoria Cross Recipients

Burial Information


Cemetery:
Grave Reference:

I. A. 8.

Location:

Auberchicourt is a commune mining village in the Department of the Nord, 11.5 kilometres east of Douai on the road to Valenciennes and AUBERCHICOURT BRITISH CEMETERY is one kilometre west of the village on the northside of the road to Erchin, 300 yards away from the Communal Cemetery.

Information courtesy of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission.

Digital Collection

Send us your images
  • Photo of Hugh Cairns– Sergeant Hugh Cairns, V.C.
  • Attestation Paper (front)
  • Attestation Paper (back)
  • War Diary– Extracts from 46th Battalion War Diary for November 1918.
  • War Diary– Extracts from 46th Battalion War Diary for November 1918
  • War Diary– Extracts from 46th Battalion War Diary for November 1918
  • War Diary– Extracts from 46th Battalion War Diary for November 1918.
  • Service Records (front)– Casualty Form - Active Service
  • Service Records (back)– Casualty Form - Active Service
  • Award Citation
  • Military Will
  • Newspaper Clipping– From the Toronto Star for 1 February 1919, page 28.
  • Newspaper Clipping
  • Circumstances of Death Registers– Source: Library and Archives Canada.  CIRCUMSTANCES OF DEATH REGISTERS, FIRST WORLD WAR Surnames:  Cabana to Campling. Microform Sequence 17; Volume Number 31829_B016726. Reference RG150, 1992-93/314, 161.  Page 115 of 1024.
  • Plaque– Plaque mounted in 1927 between the houses at 3 and 5 Sergent Cairns Avenue at Valenciennes, in France, to commemorate his death due to wounds.
  • Plaque - 2– Plaque mounted in 1937 between the houses at 3 and 5 Sergent Cairns Avenue at Valenciennes, in France, to commemorate his death due to wounds.
  • Plaque– Original street name plate in Valenciennes' Sgt Cairns Avenue
  • Cenotaph– Barrie Military Park, Victoria Cross Recipients, Cenotaph
  • Cemetery Plan
  • Auberchicourt British Cemetery
  • Auberchicourt British Cemetery
  • Gravemarker– Grave Marker for Sgt. Hugh Cairns, V.C., D.C.M.
Photo originally submitted to the Victoria Cross Reference by Terry MacDonald.
  • Grave Marker– Gravemarker, April 2007

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