Joseph Harcourt Tombs, VC

Section K, Lot 1056
Pine Hills Cemetery, Scarborough


Born in Birmingham, England on March 23, 1887, Joseph Harcourt Tombs, VC joined the army in 1912. He was a Lance-Corporal in the 1st battalion, The King’s (Liverpool Regiment) during World War I. On May 16, 1915 near Rue du Bois, France, under the name Joseph Harcourt Tombs, he repeatedly crawled out under heavy shell and machine-gun fire to bring in wounded men who were lying about 100 yards in front of the trenches. He rescued four men, including one of who he dragged back by means of a rifle sling placed around his own neck and the man’s body. For these acts, he was awarded the Victoria Cross. On May 24, 1915, he was promoted to Corporal in the field. After the war he emigrated to Canada where he spent the rest of his life. On 25 May 1920, Tombs enlisted in the Canadian Army in Montréal, and served as a Private in The Royal Canadian Regiment. (His attestation papers are held in The Royal Canadian Regiment Museum, Wolseley Barracks, London, Ontario). During World War II Tombs enlisted in the Royal Canadian Air Force and served at the Flying School in Trenton, Ontario. A 1952 operation to remove some shrapnel embedded in his stomach was not completely successful, and in 1964 he suffered a stroke. Harcourt died on June 28, 1966 at the age of 78. His Victoria Cross is held by the Royal Regiment of Canada Foundation, Toronto, Ontario, Canada.