Personal info

  • Name: Michael James O’ROURKE
  • D.O.B: 19th March, 1878
  • D.O.A: 17th August, 1917
  • D.O.D: 6th December, 1957
  • Award: Victoria Cross
  • Occupation at time of action: Private, 7th Battalion The British Columbia Regiment, Canadian Expeditionary Force
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Hill 70, near Lens, France 15-17 August 1917

15-17 August 1917

More details about:
The First World War 1917 

Hill 70, in fact a low ridge, lay east of Loos and north of Lens on the road south from La Bassée. Atop it was a German redoubt, which commanded the surrounding area. It had been attacked by the British on 25-26 September 1915 (qv) during the Battle of Loos but had been held by the Germans. On 15 August 1917 it was taken by Canadian troops and fighting continued there until the 25th (see 18, 21-24 August 1917 below). Six Canadians were to be awarded the VC for their gallantry during the whole engagement. In the course of the battle, on 16 August the Germans counter-attacked a trench known as the Chalk Pit, which the Canadians had captured the day before. Two stretcher-bearers were killed and 11 wounded out of the 16 that were assigned to the 7th Battalion The British Columbia Regiment.

Citation

 For most conspicuous bravery and devotion to duty during prolonged operations. For three days and nights Pte. O’Rourke, who is a stretcher-bearer, worked unceasingly in bringing the wounded into safety, dressing them, and getting them food and water. During the whole of this period the area in which he worked was subjected to very severe shelling and swept by heavy machine gun and rifle fire. On several occasions he was knocked down and partially buried by enemy shells. Seeing a comrade who had been blinded stumbling around ahead of our trench, in full view of the enemy who were sniping him, Pte. O’Rourke jumped out of his trench and brought the man back, being himself heavily sniped at while doing so. Again he went forward about 50 yards in front of our barrage under very heavy and accurate fire from enemy machine guns and snipers, and brought in a comrade. On a subsequent occasion, when the line of advanced posts was retired to the line to be consolidated, he went forward under very heavy enemy fire of every description and brought back a wounded man who had been left behind. He showed throughout an absolute disregard for his own safety, going wherever there were wounded to succour, and his magnificent courage and devotion in continuing his rescue work, in spite of exhaustion and the incessant heavy enemy fire of every description, inspired all ranks and undoubtedly saved many lives. 

Third Supplement to The London Gazette of 6 November 1917. 8 November 1917, Numb. 30372, p. 11569

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