Belfast Telegraph

Canadian war hero Hanna honoured with blue plaque in Kilkeel

By Adrian Rutherford

A Northern Ireland war hero who won the Victoria Cross for his bravery is being honoured with a blue plaque.

The tribute to Company Sgt Major Robert Hill Hanna, who single-handedly killed four German soldiers during a fierce WWI battle, will be unveiled in his home town of Kilkeel, Co Down, tomorrow.

The ceremony, at Kilkeel Presbyterian Church, will be performed by his nephew.

Robert Hill Hanna was born in August 1887 before emigrating to Canada in 1905, settling in British Columbia.

Aged 27, he enlisted in the Canadian Infantry, and was posted as a private to the 29th (Vancouver) Batt.

In August 1917, at Hill 70 Lens, France, Company Sergeant-Major Hanna's company met with severe enemy resistance at a heavily-protected strong point.

Under heavy fire, he coolly led a party against the strong point. He rushed through the wire and personally killed four of the enemy, capturing the position and silencing the machine gun.

The notice of Mr Hill Hanna's bravery was cited in the London Gazette, and he was awarded the Victoria Cross in December 1917.

After the war he returned to Vancouver where he was manager of a logging camp until 1938.

He died in 1967 at the age of 80 and is buried in British Columbia, Canada.

Relations of Robert Hill Hanna still live in the Mourne area.

The plaque is being organised by the Ulster History Circle, a voluntary, not for profit charity which puts up blue plaques in public places to celebrate people of achievement.

Its chairman Chris Spurr said: "Robert Hill Hanna left Mourne for Canada to seek a new life.

"However, it was in France, as a Company Sergeant Major, that his valour brought him lasting honour.

"One hundred years after CSM Hanna won the Victoria Cross, the Ulster History Circle is delighted to commemorate this heroic soldier with a blue plaque in Kilkeel."

A person is not considered for a blue plaque unless they have been dead for a minimum of 20 years, or would have reached their 100th birthday.

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