Samuel “Lewis” Honey was born in Conn, just east of Mount Forest, on Feb. 9, 1894. His father George E. Honey was a Methodist Minister.
The family moved to Southampton in 1912 when George served the local Methodists (today the United Church) as their minister. Son Lewis attended the Southampton Continuation School during that time. He finished Continuation School in Drayton and then took on a temporary teaching assignment in a school at Six Nations in Brantford before moving on to a school in Drumbo. With this experience, he entered Normal School in London, received formal training and then taught at Landsborough in Huron County.
He returned to High School in Walkerton for a short time, where he received his Honours Matriculation while studying French, Latin and German. In January 1915, while teaching in Whitechurch, in York County, he returned to Walkerton and enlisted, as a private, in the 34th Battalion, that was being formed out of Guelph. By October he had the rank of Sergeant when the battalion shipped out to England. While at the Canadian base in Bramshott England, he instructed in both bayonet fighting and physical fitness before going to France as a reinforcement with the 78th Battalion.
In January 1917, he was awarded the first of 3 decorations, the Military Medal for bravery during a pair of raids on German trenches. In future war actions, these would be referred to as “commando raids”.
In April 1917, at Vimy Ridge, he received the Distinguished Conduct Medal when his platoon commander was injured, and Honey assumed command and led his men forward in the face of fierce enemy fire. They were forced to dig in and held their position for 3 days, until relieved. He was immediately recommended for a commission and returned to England to attend the Officer Training School, arriving back to the front lines in October 1917 as a Lieutenant.
He did get a little perk in February 1918 with a 14 Day leave to spend in Nice on the French Riviera on the Mediterranean Sea.
It was later in 1918 that the 100 Days Offensive by the allies, lead to a series of battles that eventually brought about the end of the war. To best tell the last chapter in the life of S. Lewis Honey, we will refer to the London England Times, History of the War, vol. xix reprinted below.
HONEY, Samuel Lewis
V.C. Bourlon Wood, September 27th – 30th. 1918
Born: Conn, Ontario, February 9th, 1894
Unit: 78th Battalion, C.E.F.
Bourlon Wood was the scene of the operation in which from September 27…. Lieutenant Honey played an important part. On the 27th, when all of his company officers had become casualties, Honey took command, and under very sever fire skillfully carried out reorganization. Continuing the advance with great dash he gained the objective. He now found that his company was suffering casualties from enfilade machine-gun fire, whereupon he followed the example which had been so often set – he located and rushed, single handed, the machine gun nest, and captured the guns and 10 prisoners. Lieutenant Honey afterwards repelled four counter- attacks, and after dark, again went out alone, and having located an enemy post he led a party which captured it and three guns. There was no falling off in the high character of the work which Honey set himself to do. With great skill and daring he led his company on September 29 against a strong German position, and … continued his display of heroism and devotion. This gallant officer died of wounds received during the last day of the attack by his battalion.
His Commanding Officer wrote the following comments to his parents, speaking on Lewis Honey’s actions in Bourlon Wood, that had won him the Victoria Cross;
…..never have I seen such gallant work as this boy of yours displayed…He was the first to reach the final objective during the first day, and throughout the days that followed he was an example of grit and determination that was the talk of the whole company. The men idolized him and as they bore him by me that morning there was a tenderness in their care that only strong men can show.
In 1964, a Provincial plaque was dedicated to him and placed along Highway 89 in the village of Conn, at the local Methodist Church. In 1975, his sister Isobel, turned his Victoria Cross and his other medals over to the Canadian War Museum in Ottawa where they are today. Recently the dedication plaque was moved from Conn and is now in front of the Mount Forest Royal Canadian Legion.
May he Rest in Peace.
We will Remember Them.
Researched and Written by: G. William Streeter