b. 15/03/1890 Routhierville, Canada. d. 10/08/1918 France.
Jean Baptiste Arthur Brillant (1890-1918) was born in Assemetquaghan, Quebec, on 15th March 1890, the son of Joseph Brillant, a railway maintenance worker, and Rose-de-Lima Raiche.
Brillant studied at the College of Saint Joseph in Memramcook, New Brunswick, and then at the Séminaire de Rimouski in 1904–5. He later worked as a telegraph operator for a railway.
Brillant volunteered for service with the 89th (Temiscouata and Rimouski) Regiment (from 1920 the Fusiliers du Saint-Laurent) and held the rank of lieutenant. Brillant volunteered for service with the 89th (Temiscouata and Rimouski) Regiment (from 1920 the Fusiliers du Saint-Laurent) and held the rank of lieutenant. In 1916, eager to join the Canadian Expeditionary Force, he declared 13 years' service with this unit. On 20th March 1916 Brillant left his job as a telegrapher. After about six months’ training in Valcartier, he embarked for England with the 189th on 27th September 1916; on disembarking at Liverpool on 6th October, he was assigned to the 69th Infantry Battalion. He left for France on 27th October and joined the 22e Battalion (Canadien Francais) at Bully-Grenay.
During the night of 27th/28th May 1918, in the vicinity of Boiry-Becquerelle, Brillant was called to lead a group of volunteers to help silence an outpost defended by about 50 men. Troops charged the enemy position, cut through the barbed wire protecting it, and took it. He was injured in the attack, yet captured enemy soldiers who had "valuable information". Remaining in action that day despite his wounds, Brillant would be awarded the Military Cross posthumously on 16th September 1918.
Lieutenant Brillant was awarded the Victoria Cross for his actions during the first two days of the Battle of Amiens. On 8th August 1918, near Méharicourt in France, he rushed and captured a German machine gun that was holding up the advance of the left flank of his company. In this action, he personally killed two of the machine gun’s crew and was himself wounded. Remaining in command, later the same day Brillant led two platoons in a successful attack on enemy positions after his company’s progress was again checked by machine gun fire. Fifteen machine guns and 150 enemy soldiers were captured as a result. While leading this assault, he suffered a second wound. The following day, August 9, Brillant led yet another attack against a German field gun. He was wounded again, this time critically, but managed to advance a further 200 meters before he collapsed from exhaustion and the loss of blood. Lieutenant Brillant died the next day.
He was buried in Villers-Bretonneux Cemetery, Pouilloy, France, and his citation for the VC was published in the London Gazette on 27th September 1918. His medal was presented on 16th December 1918 by the Governor-General of Canada, Duke of Devonshire at Rimouskie, Quebec to his father. The medals including his VC, MC, British War Medal 1914-20, and Victory Medal 1914-19 are now held by the Royal 22e Regimental Museum, Quebec City, Quebec, Canada.
LOCATION OF MEDAL: ROYAL 22E REGIMENT MUSEUM, QUEBEC CITY.
BURIAL PLACE: VILLERS-BRETONNEUX CEMETERY, FOUILLOY, FRANCE.
Cemetery Plan courtesy of Kevin Brazier
PLOT VIa, ROW B, GRAVE 20
National Memorial Arboretum