|Sergeant Valentine Stewart Hitchcock photographed wearing the uniform of the Royal Canadian Garrison Artillery sometime around 1900.
A bookbinder by trade, Valentine Stewart Hitchcock was born in Liverpool, Lancashire, England on 15 October, 1874 the son of Valentine
and Ellen Hitchcock. Like so many young men of his era he had followed his father into his chosen trade. The family moved to Canada
sometime between 1881 and 1891 and the event may have occurred as the result of the elder Valentine’s death since he appears in the 1881
Census for Liverpool but he is not listed with the family in the 1891 Census for Victoria, British Columbia where the Hitchcock family was
living in that year.
The younger Hitchcock served with the 50th Regiment (militia), The Gordon Highlanders of Canada and later with the 5th Regiment,
Canadian Garrison Artillery. Exactly how long and at what rank he served with the Canadian Gordons is not known but his photograph
clearly shows that he had attained the rank of Sergeant while serving with the Artillery. It appears that he was a member of the militia as
early as 1898 when a Corporal V. Hitchcock is mentioned in the Canada, Nominal Rolls and Paylists for the Volunteer Militia, 1857-1922
having served in the Honour Guard that fired a salute during the opening of the Victoria Legislature on 10 February, 1898.
Hitchcock attested as a Private with the 67th Battalion (Ontario Regiment) Canadian Expeditionary Force on 1 September, 1915. Here his
birth date is given as 1877 but this was probably a typographical error by the military clerk who typed the forms since all other records make
his birth year out as 1874. His service number was 102047.
While overall details of Hitchcock’s service are sketchy he was cited for the Military Medal in the London Gazette on 27 June, 1918. A
German mortar round landed in a shell crater that the Canadian’s had been using as a gun pit and started a fire which threatened to ignite a
quantity of Stokes ammunition that was stored there. Private Valentine and two other Canadians - Corporal Wardman and Private Colwill –
proceeded to remove the Stokes rounds from the pit and prevented its detonation. All three soldiers were cited for the Military Medal.
Hitchcock’s citation read in part:
Pte. Hitchcock rendered valuable assistance in removing ammunition from the recess and in extinguishing the fire, which had ignited the
sandbag curtain and framework of the recess. He afterwards carried a number of shells which had become hot, to the lip of the crater to cool
off. His coolness and bravery undoubtedly assisted in preventing the destruction of the whole of the ammunition and the guns, with a
possible loss of life.
Hitchcock would have been additionally entitled to the British War and Victory Medals.
One can find interesting addition details of a man’s military career in rather unexpected places’ In the January 1918 edition of The
International Bookbinder: Official Journal of the International Brotherhood of North American Bookbinders where the following
statement was made: “Brother Valentine Hitchcock, unfortunately, has been wounded during the recent severe fighting in France.”
Little else regarding Valentine Hitchcock has come to light. In the 1920 city directory for Henderson, Victoria, British Columbia Valentine
Hitchcock is show living at 162 Robertson. Also living at the same address is Irene Hitchcock who may have been his wife. Valentine
Stewart Hitchcock passed away on 16 January, 1946 in Victoria, British Columbia.
9 Inches by 7 Inches
(22.7 cm x 17.6 cm)
John Savannah - Photographer
Victoria, British Columbia, Canada