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15-25 August 1917
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Okill Massey Learmonth

Okill Massey Learmonth, VC

Okill Massey Learmonth was born in Quebec City, Quebec on 20 February 1894. He enlisted in the Canadian Expeditionary Force as a private soldier in November 1914, and was commissioned as an officer in June 1916. For his bravery and leadership during the attack on Hill 70 on 18 August, 1917, Major Learmonth was awarded the Victoria Cross. Major Learmonth died of his wounds the following day.

Citation

“For most conspicuous bravery and exceptional devotion to duty. During a determined counter-attack on our new positions, this officer, when his company was momentarily surprised, instantly charged and personally disposed of the attackers. Later, he carried on a tremendous fight with the advancing enemy. Although under intense barrage fire and mortally wounded, he stood on the parapet of the trench, bombed the enemy continuously and directed the defence in such a manner as to infuse a spirit of utmost resistance into his men.

On several occasions this very brave officer actually caught bombs thrown at him by the enemy and threw them back. When he was unable by reason of his wounds to carry on the fight he still refused to be carried out of the line, and continued to give instructions and invaluable advice to his junior officers, finally handing over all his duties before he was evacuated from the front line to the hospital where he died.”

(London Gazette, no.30372, 8 November 1917)

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