Lance Sergeant Clarence Verdun Courtney was born in Toronto, Ontario, on March 26, 1916, to parents (Police constable, was also Toronto police force “the late” CVWM clipping) James and Annie Courtney. He had one sibling, sister Ina Lena. Prior to WWII Clarence Courtney was a Police Constable with the Toronto Police Department. He married Margaret Galbraith Davidson on October 18, 1940.
Courtney enlisted for Active Service on June 8, 1942, in Toronto, Ont., with the 17th Brigade Group Company #22, Royal Canadian Army Service Corps (R.C.A.S.C.). He shipped for England in July of 1943, where he joined the 2nd Armoured Brigade Company, R.C.A.S.C.
Deployed as part of Operation Overlord, on D-Day, June 6, 1944, Courtney was aboard the S.S. Sambut. Crossing the English Channel loaded with men and supplies, the Sambut was struck by long-range German artillery guns and sank in the Strait of Dover. Severely wounded by shellfire prior to abandoning ship, Courtney was declared missing, presumed dead; his body was never recovered. He is ccommemorated on the Bayeux Memorial, Calvados, France.
There are two letters in the collection, both from 1944. The first was written by Courtney to friend and fellow Toronto City Police Constable Charles Gilbert; mentioned is Police Constable Stanley James McIlrath who was killed June 30, 1943. The second is from Courtney’s military service record, and was written to H.Q. in Ottawa in November by his still-hopeful wife Margaret during the time period in which Clarence had been declared as missing but not yet declared dead.
L/Sgt. Clarence Courtney’s service record (Serv/Reg# B80413) can be viewed/downloaded in pdf format through Library and Archives Canada.
Burial information is available at the Commonwealth War Graves Commission.
A memorial page honouring Courtney can be visited online at the Canadian Virtual War Memorial.
R.C.A.F. Flight Sergeant Stanley James McIlrath’s service record (Serv/Reg# R112735).