Personal info

  • Name: Michael O’LEARY
  • D.O.B: 9th October, 1888
  • D.O.A: 1st February, 1915
  • D.O.D: 2nd August, 1961
  • Award: Victoria Cross
  • Occupation at time of action: Lance Corporal, 1st Battalion Irish Guards

Cuinchy, France 1 February 1915

1 February 1915

More details about:
The First World War 1915 

In January 1915 there were a number of German attacks in the Cuinchy sector, about midway between Béthune and La Bassée, to the south of Givenchy. There was a large-scale offensive on 25 January and renewed attacks on the 29th. On 30 January 4th Guards Brigade moved up to the front line and 2nd Coldstream Guards, 2nd Brigade, took over the thousand yards in front of Cuinchy with 1st Irish Guards in support. Early on 1 February a German attack forced No 4 Company Coldstream Guards to retire to a barricade erected in an area nicknamed the Hollow but later in the morning orders were given to retake the lost position. As this counter-attack faltered, Second Lieutenant Innes was ordered to lead his men forward from the Hollow. Lance Corporal M O’Leary, Second Lieutenant Innes’ orderly, ran ahead, outdistancing the men with him and stormed the German positions.

Citation

 For conspicuous bravery at Cuinchy on the 1st February, 1915. When forming one of the storming party which advanced against the enemy’s barricades he rushed to the front and himself killed five Germans who were holding the first barricade, after which he attacked a second barricade, about 60 yards further on, which he captured, after killing three of the enemy and making prisoners of two more. Lance-Corporal O’Leary thus practically captured the enemy’s position by himself, and prevented the rest of the attacking party from being fired upon. 

Fourth Supplement to The London Gazette of 16 February 1915. 18 February 1915, Numb. 29074, p. 1700

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