Robert Hanna was born near Hanna's Close, Kilkeel, County Down, in 1886, and migrated to Canada in 1905.
He joined the Canadian Expeditionary Force during the 1st World War, and by the summer of 1917 was a Company Sergeant-Major (CSM) serving with the 29th Infantry Battalion.
In 1917, CSM Hanna’s company was attempting to overpower a German strongpoint on Hill 70, near Lens in France.
In the course of three assaults on the enemy position, the company had suffered several casualties, including the loss of all of its officers.
While his company continued to take casualties from the heavy machine gun fire coming from the strongpoint, Hanna calmly collected a party of men and led them in a fourth attack, rushing through the dense barbed wire protecting the position.
When he arrived inside the strongpoint, CSM Hanna bayoneted three of the enemy and clubbed a fourth with his rifle, enabling the position and its machine gun to be captured.
For the bravery and leadership he demonstrated in this action, Robert Hanna received the Victoria Cross.
“For most conspicuous bravery in attack, when his company met with most severe enemy resistance and all the company officers became casualties. A strong point, heavily protected by wire and held by a machine gun, had beaten off three assaults of the company with heavy casualties.
This Warrant Officer under heavy machine gun and rifle fire, coolly collected a party of men, and leading them against this strong point, rushed through the wire and personally bayonetted three of the enemy and brained the fourth, capturing the position and silencing the machine gun.
This most courageous action, displayed courage and personal bravery of the highest order at this most critical moment of the attack, was responsible for the capture of a most important tactical point, and but for his daring action and determined handling of a desperate situation the attack would not have succeeded.
CSM Hanna’s outstanding gallantry, personal courage and determined leading of his company is deserving of the highest possible reward.”