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John Bernard Croak - (from the Encyclopedia of Newfoundland and Labrador)
Photo by Terry Macdonald

John Bernard Croak[1] VC (b. 1892 – August 8, 1918), was a soldier in the Canadian Army during the First World War, and a recipient of the Victoria Cross, the highest award of the British Commonwealth for gallantry "in the face of the enemy".



Croak was born in Little Bay, Newfoundland, on May 18, 1892 to James and Cecelia Croak.[2] The family moved to Glace Bay, Nova Scotia when Croak was two years old. He attended school there and then began work as a coal miner.

Croak enlisted in the military in 1915. He was a private in the 13th (Royal Highlanders of Canada) Battalion, Canadian Expeditionary Force. On August 8, 1918 at Amiens, France, Croak performed a deed which earned him the Victoria Cross. He was wounded in the act, and died shortly thereafter at the age of only 26.


For most conspicuous bravery in attack when having become separated from his section he encountered a machine gun nest, which he bombed and silenced, taking the gun and crew prisoners. Shortly afterwards he was severely wounded, but refused to desist. Having rejoined his platoon, a very strong point, containing several machine guns, was encountered. Private Croak, however, seeing an opportunity, dashed forward alone and was almost immediately followed by the remainder of the platoon in a brilliant charge. He was the first to arrive at the trench line, into which he led his men, capturing three machine guns and bayonetting or capturing the entire garrison. The perseverance and valour of this gallant soldier,who was again severely wounded, and died of his wounds, were an inspiring example to all.
The London Gazette, No. 30922, September 24, 1918[2]

Further information

Grave/memorial at Buried at Hangard Wood British Cemetery, France. 12m SW of Albert. Plot I. Row A. Grave 9. Headstone.

In Glace Bay, Nova Scotia, where John Bernard Croak grew up, there is a school, a park and a Royal Canadian Legion branch named in his honour.

The medal

John Bernard Croak's medals are held by The Army Museum, located on the second floor of the Cavalier Block in the Halifax Citadel Defence Complex, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada.


  1. ^ The Newfoundland spelling of the name is "Croke," and that is also how it appears on Pvt. Croak's birth certificate. However, Pvt. Croak enlisted with this spelling, which remains on many of his official documents.
  2. ^ a b Croak, John Bernard, Commonwealth War Graves Commission

External links

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