Robert’s column

Robert Barron column: Hats off to war heroes

Lipscomb took part in the Vimy Ridge attack in France

I’m sure Charles Hugh Pearson Lipscomb would have been pretty impressed and flattered that two people from his home country would honour him while visiting the Cowichan Valley more than 100 years after his death.

Lipscomb, who has his name engraved on the cenotaph honouring war dead in Duncan’s Charles Hoey Park, was born in England in 1880 and settled in the Cowichan Valley just before the First World War.

He answered the call of Britannia when war was declared and joined the 2nd Canadian Mounted Rifles.

Lipscomb took part in the Vimy Ridge attack in France as part of the Battle of Arras in April, 1917, where he was wounded and later died of his injuries at the young age of just 36, leaving behind a widow and two children under the age of four.

Cenotaphs like the one in Charles Hoey Park are covered in names of people who died in wars that happened decades ago and who are now largely forgotten.

Of course, the Valley is fortunate to have the members of the Royal Canadian Legion Branch 53 who make it a point to ensure the war dead are honoured and remembered for their sacrifices during numerous services that are held every year in their honour.

But I doubt that even they know much about the people whose names are listed on the Cenotaph in Duncan, other than the fact they deserve much respect and thanks.

That’s why I thought it was great to meet Andy and Hannah Towner, two teachers from Yorkshire, England, who visited the Valley a couple of weeks ago and, as part of their visit, laid a wreath at Duncan’s Cenotaph specifically to honour Lipscomb.

Apparently, as a young lad, Lipscomb attended the 500 year-old Pocklington School in Yorkshire and there is a long tradition at the old boarding school to remember and to reconnect with former students who attended there, particularly those who have fought and fallen in the two world wars.

I was fascinated that people from the other side of the planet should know so much more than us who live here about a man whose name many of us see every day, but know virtually nothing about.

They told me that Lipscomb was the son of a pastor who emigrated to Canada in 1908 and eventually settled in the Cowichan Valley and then Duncan, working first for the Cowichan Creamery Association before becoming a partner in the Cameron Farmers’ Exchange of Hilliers’s Crossing.

After talking to the Towners, I spent a few minutes staring at Lipscomb’s name on the cenotaph and was glad that I could finally put some kind of story to at least one of the many names engraved on it.

Of course there’s Major Charles Hoey himself, for whom the park is named, who was the only soldier from the Valley to receive the Victoria Cross, the British Empire’s highest award for bravery under fire.

The story of Hoey, who received the Victoria Cross for his actions fearlessly leading his troops in battle in Asia, a battle in which he was killed, is more well known to most locally.

But I fear those others, like Lipscomb, who died just as selflessly and bravely, are being forgotten as the years go by.

It would be a great project for someone to research all the names on the cenotaph in Charles Hoey Park and write a book, giving us some idea of just who these people are.

It would make for some good reading, and I think they deserve it.



robert.barron@cowichanvalleycitizen.com

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