William Hew Clarke-Kennedy VC CMG DSO (2) was born at Dunskay, Ayrshire Scotland. His grandfather had been decorated on the field, following the 1815 Battle of Waterloo. His father had been killed in the South African War. William Clarke-Kennedy himself served in the South African War with the Imperial Yeomanry and Rhodesian Horse.

In 1903 he was transferred to the Montreal Canada office of the Scottish life insurance company for which he worked. In 1914 when war broke out, he enlisted and went overseas with the 13th Battalion (Royal Highlanders). While in training at Valcartier near Quebec City he married Kate Redford.

On 28 August 1918, the second day of the Arras front offensive, as Lieutenant Colonel in command of the 24th Battalion (Victoria Rifles), he was badly wounded in the leg. Though bleeding profusely and in intense pain, Clarke-Kennedy, who the day before had led the initial charge on enemy trenches, refused to be evacuated from the battlefield. Using a shell hole as his command post, he continued to direct his men until realizing his exhausted troops could advance no further, he established a strong defense line. This not only saved countless lives but made it possible for fresh troops to resume the forward attack.

For his valiant action, Clarke-Kennedy, who had previously received the Distinguished Service Order twice, the Croix de Guerre, and "mentioned in despatches" four times, was awarded the Victoria Cross (VC).

After WW1, he returned to the insurance business in Montreal, retiring in 1945.

In 1961 he died in Montreal at age 81.