Tuesday, August 17, 2004

Extreme devotion to duty in the presence of the enemy

Babble on.

Eighty-seven years ago, Canadian troops were engaged in battle with German troops in France. In the space of three days, two of those Canadians were awarded the Victoria Cross for "extreme devotion to duty in the presence of the enemy."

Private Harry Brown (10th Bn., Alberta Regiment, Canadian Expeditionary Force)
After the capture of a position, the enemy massed in force and counter-attacked. The situation became very critical, all wires being cut. It was of the utmost importance to get word back to Headquarters. This soldier and one other were given the message with orders to deliver the same at all costs. The other messenger was killed. Private Brown had his arm shattered but continued on through an intense barrage until he arrived at the close support lines and found an officer. He was so spent that he fell down the dug-out steps, but retained consciousness long enough to hand over his message, saying "Important message!" He then became unconscious and died in the dressing station a few hours later. His devotion to duty was of the highest possible degree imaginable, and his successful delivery of the message undoubtedly saved the loss of the position for the time and prevented many casualties.

Private Michael James O'Rourke (7th Bn., British Columbia Regiment, Canadian Expeditionary Force)
During the period 15/17 August 1917 at Hill 60 near Lens, France, Private O'Rourke, who was a stretcher-bearer, worked unceasingly for three days and nights bringing in the wounded, dressing their wounds and getting them food and water. During the whole of this period the area in which he worked was swept by heavy machine-gun and rifle fire and on several occasions he was knocked down and partially buried by enemy shells. His courage and devotion in carrying out his rescue work in spite of exhaustion and incessant heavy fire inspired all ranks and undoubtedly saved many lives.

November 11th shouldn't be the only day we remember.

Babble off.


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