Robert Shankland (1887-1968) was born in 1887 in Ayr, Scotland. He came to Canada in 1910 and worked as a cashier at Crescent Creamery Company in Winnipeg, Manitoba, until the First World War broke out. He enlisted on December 18, 1914, and joined the 43rd Battalion (Cameron Highlanders). He served with distinction throughout the war. He earned a Distinguished Conduct Medal at Sanctuary Wood in June 1916 and the Victoria Cross at Passchendaele on October 26, 1917, in the fighting for the Bellevue Spur, one of the main lines of defense before the town. He held his positions tenaciously against heavy shelling and counterattacks, which allowed supporting troops to come up, and reported back to command to update them on the situation before rejoining his troops to lead a charge. After the war, Shankland stayed with the Cameron Highlanders. When the Second World War broke out, he was a major and was sent overseas to be camp commandant of the Canadian Army Headquarters in England in 1940. After the Second World War he retired to Vancouver, where he died on January 20, 1968. Before the wars, Shankland lived on Pine Street in Winnipeg, on the same block as two other soldiers who received the Victoria Cross in the First World War, Leo Clarke and Frederick Willian Hall. Pine Street was subsequently renamed Valour Road.
Service Record Details
Date of Birth: October 10, 1887 (Ayr, Scotland)
Date of Attestation: December 21, 1914
Age at Enlistment: 27 years, 2 months
Height: 5 feet, 4 1/2 inches
Weight: 150 pounds
Description: Sallow complexion, grey eyes, dark brown hair. Presbyterian.
Home Address: Not indicated
Details of Family: Father, William Shankland, living at 68 Church Street, Ayr, Scotland.
Next of Kin: Father (William Shankland)
Branch of Service: Canadian Expeditionary Force
Theatre of War: England, France
Casualties / Medical History
- October to November 1917 – A note indicates that he was reported wounded on October 26, 1917, but remained on duty. Then on November 13 he is admitted to the 1st British Red Cross Hospital at Le Touquet, France, with slight wounds to the head and neck. (Page 38)
- February 25, 1919 – Upon leaving service he has a medical exam at Bramshott Military Hospital in England. He has a scar on his back from a gunshot wound received in October 1917 and scars on his head and neck and from wounds received in November 1917. (Page 64)
Interesting Details from the Service Record
- June 1, 1915 – His assigned pay is to be sent to George J. Ritchie at the Crescent Creamery Company Limited in Winnipeg. (Page 25)
- August 18, 1916 – He is awarded a Distinguished Conduct Medal. (LG 29713) (Page 43)
- December 14, 1917 – He is awarded the Victoria Cross. A typed transcript of The London Gazette article appears in full. (LG 30433) (Page 42)
- March 20, 1919 – He returns to Canada at the end of the war on the SS Baltic. He plans to live at 698 Goulding Street in Winnipeg. (Page 5 and 30)
- November 20, 1919 – His Certificate of Service indicates that he was struck off strength on April 11, 1919, due to demobilization. (Page 44)
The London Gazette
The London Gazette—Supplement 29713, Page 8248, August 18, 1916
“#420933 Coy. S./M. R. Shankland, Can. Infy.
“For conspicuous gallantry in volunteering to lead a party of stretcher-bearers, under very heavy shell fire, and bringing in some wounded and partially buried men. His courage and devotion were most marked.”
Military Medals Honours and Awards
No records found