Memorable Manitobans: John Robert Osborn (1899-1941)
Born at Foulden, Norfolk, England on 2 January 1899, son of John Robert Osborn and Harriet Sussanah Osborn, he served in the Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve in the First World War, later farming near Wapella, Saskatchewan for two years before moving to Winnipeg, where he worked for the Canadian Pacific Railway.
On 19 May 1926, he married Margaret Elizabeth Nelson (1907-1976) at Carberry. They had five children: John Robert Osborn (b 1927), Ethel Fern Osborn (b 1928), Gerald Nelson Osborn (b 1930), George Henry Osborn (b 1934), and Patricia Margaret Osborn (b 1936). The family lived at 87 Guay Street, St. Vital, Winnipeg.
A member of the First Battalion of the Winnipeg Grenadiers, starting in 1933, he was called to active duty in September 1939 as company Sergeant-Major. He won a Victoria Cross in Hong Kong when he saved members of his company by yelling “Duck, lads” and throwing himself on a grenade, dying on 19 December 1941. There is no known grave. His name is inscribed on the Sai Wan Bay Memorial in Hong Kong and he is commemorated by Osborn Hall in the St. Vital Centennial Centre.
Marriage registration, Manitoba Vital Statistics.
“Hoopla galore for St. Vital,” Winnipeg Free Press, 4 November 1970, page 78.
Obituary [Margaret Elizabeth Osborn], Winnipeg Free Press, 16 August 1976, page 19.
Canadian Military History, Volume 6, Number 2, Autumn 1997, pages 79-89 (Cameron Pulsiver, Chief of Historical Research - Canadian War Museum).
Victoria Cross citation, Veterans Affairs Canada.
Page revised: 7 June 2022