Personal info

  • Name: Doreen Winifred ASHBURNHAM
  • D.O.B: 13th May, 1905
  • D.O.A: 23rd September, 1916
  • D.O.D: 4th October, 1991
  • Award: George Cross
  • Occupation at time of action: Schoolgirl, St Margaret’s School, Victoria, Vancouver Island, Canada

Cowichan Lake, Vancouver Island, Canada 23 September 1916

23 September 1916

On 23 September 1916 two children, Doreen Ashburnham and Anthony Farrer, were attacked by a cougar on Vancouver Island. They fought off the animal and managed to escape. The boy received a bad head wound and the girl suffered blood poisoning. Both children were awarded the AM. Only Doreen Ashburnham lived long enough for her AM to be converted to the GC.

Citation

 The KING has been pleased to award the Albert Medal to Doreen Ashburnham, aged 11 years, and Anthony Farrer, aged 8 years, residing at Cowichan Lake, Vancouver Island, in recognition of the great bravery displayed by the children in the following circumstances:– On the 23rd September, 1916, the two children left their homes at Cowichan Lake for the purpose of catching their ponies and, when about half a mile from home, they were attacked by a cougar. They were almost upon the animal before they saw it crouching in a path at a corner. The little girl was first attacked; the cougar sprang upon her, and she was knocked down with her face to the ground, the animal being on her back. The boy at once attacked the cougar with his fists and riding bridle, and drove the animal off the girl; it then attacked him, and his companion, getting to her feet, came to the rescue, fighting with her clenched hands and bridle, and even putting her arm into the cougar’s mouth, to try to prevent it from biting Anthony. She succeeded in getting it off the boy, and it stood on its hind quarters and fought with her, but evidently it was disturbed by some sound, for presently it slunk away and ran under a log, where it was afterwards killed. The children, though both badly injured, were able to make their way home. The cougar measured over 7 feet from nose to tip of tail. 

The London Gazette of 21 December 1917, Numb. 30442, p. 13384

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