Dieppe – August 19, 1942
Canadian Chaplain Services
The Royal Hamilton Light Infantry
At Dieppe on 19th August 1942, Honourary Captain Foote, Canadian Chaplain Services, was Regimental Chaplain with the Royal Hamilton Light Infantry.
Upon landing on the beach under heavy fire he attached himself to the Regimental Aid Post which had been set up in a slight depression on the beach, but which was only sufficient to give cover to men lying down. During the subsequent period of approximately eight hours, while the action continued, this officer not only assisted the Regimental Medical Officer in ministering to the wounded in the Regimental Aid Post, but time and again left this shelter to inject morphine, give first-aid and carry wounded personnel from the open beach to the Regimental Aid Post. On these occasions, with utter disregard for his personal safety, Honourary Captain Foote exposed himself to an inferno of fire and saved many lives by his gallant efforts. During the action, as the tide went out, the Regimental Aid Post was moved to the shelter of a stranded landing craft. Honourary Captain Foote continued tirelessly and courageously to carry wounded men from the exposed beach to the cover of the landing craft. He also removed wounded from inside the landing craft when ammunition had been set on fire by enemy shells. When landing craft appeared he carried wounded from the Regimental Aid Post to the landing craft through heavy fire. On several occasions this officer had the opportunity to embark but returned to the beach as his chief concern was the care and evacuation of the wounded. He refused a final opportunity to leave the shore, choosing to suffer the fate of the men he had ministered to for over three years.
Honourary Captain Foote personally saved many lives by his efforts and his example inspired all around him. Those who observed him state that the calmness of this heroic officer as he walked about, collecting the wounded on the fire-swept beach will never be forgotten.
John Weir Foote was born in Madoc, Ontario, on the 5th of May 1904. He was educated at the University of Western Ontario, London; at Queen’s University, Kingston; and at McGill University, Montréal . He then entered the Presbyterian Ministry, serving congregations in Fort-Coulonge, Québec and Port Hope, Ontario. In December 1939, he enlisted in the Canadian Chaplain Services and was posted to the Royal Hamilton Light Infantry. Following the action described in the citation, Major Foote was taken prisoner and was not released until the 5th of May 1945. He did not accept demobilization until 1948, remaining with the Canadian Chaplain Services until that time. Then he entered the political arena and represented Durham County in the Legislature of the Province of Ontario. He had for some time filled the post of Minister of Reform Institutions for Ontario. Major Foote is the only member of the Canadian Chaplain Services ever to be awarded the Victoria Cross. Prior to his death, he donated his medals to the Royal Hamilton Light Infantry. He made his home with his wife in Cobourg, Ontario, until his death on the 2nd of May 1988. He is buried in Union Cemetery, Cobourg.