Combe, Robert Grierson
Robert Grierson Combe VC, was a recipient of the Victoria Cross, the highest and most prestigious award for gallantry in the face of the enemy that can be awarded to British and Commonwealth forces.
Citation: An extract from "The London Gazette," dated June 27, 1917, records the following:
For most conspicuous bravery and example. He steadied his Company under intense fire and led them through the enemy barrage, reaching the objective with only five men. With great coolness and courage Lt. Combe proceeded to bomb the enemy, and inflicted heavy casualties. He collected small groups of men and succeeded in capturing the Company objective, together with eighty prisoners. He repeatedly charged the enemy, driving them before him, and whilst personally leading his bombers was killed by an enemy sniper. His conduct inspired all ranks, and it was entirely due to his magnificent courage that the position was carried, secured and held. (London Gazette, no.30154, 27 June 1917)
Son of James and Elizabeth Combe, of Aberdeen, Scotland; husband of Jean Traquair Donald Combe, Victoria, British Columbia. Robert Grierson Combe came to Canada around 1906, having already completed his schooling and apprenticeship in pharmacies in Aberdeen and London, England. He soon joined the staff of a drug store in Moosomin, Saskatchewan and several years later opened his own store in Melville, Saskatchewan. Combe enlisted in 1915, was granted a commission and subsequently posted to the 53rd Battalion in Prince Albert. Initially qualified as a Major on arrival overseas and placed on the instructional staff, he later, at his own request, reverted to the rank of Lieutenant and joined the 28th Battalion in France. He was forced back to England due to illness but soon returned to the front, this time with the 27th Battalion where he served with distinction until the time of his death. A lake in Northern Saskatchewan has been named in his honour.
Combe was buried in a battlefield cemetery near Acheville close where he was killed, but later fighting saw the cemetery destroyed and his grave site lost. As such, R.G. Combe's name is inscribed on the Canadian National Vimy Memorial along with the names of the other Canadian soldiers who were killed in France and whose bodies were never recovered or identified or whose graves were lost. The battlefield on which Lt. Combe fell is just over seven kilometres away from the Vimy Monument, and on a clear day Acheville can be seen from the monument itself.