Personal info

  • Name: George Randolph PEARKES
  • D.O.B: 26th February, 1888
  • D.O.A: 31st October, 1917
  • D.O.D: 30th May, 1984
  • Award: Victoria Cross
  • Occupation at time of action: Captain, 5th Canadian Mounted Rifles, The Quebec Regiment, Canadian Expeditionary Force
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West of Passchendaele, Belgium 30-31 October 1917

30-31 October 1917

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The First World War 1917 

On 30 October 1917, Lieutenant General Sir Arthur Currie launched the second phase of the Second Battle of Passchendaele, which was to bring the Canadian Expeditionary Force to the western outskirts of the village. 49th (Edmonton) Battalion The Alberta Regiment advanced north of the Ypres-Oostnieuwkerke road, but came under heavy machine-gun fire near Furst Farm. This position was captured by Private C J Kinross allowing the advance to continue. To the north of 49th Battalion the forces included 5th Canadian Mounted Rifles, which was detailed to capture the German stronghold at Vapour Farm. Though wounded, Acting Major G R Pearkes succeeded in securing this objective and holding out all day against German counter-attacks even when the situation appeared desperate. Meanwhile, to the south of the Ypres-Oostnieuwkerke road, Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry pushed forward to attack the Meetcheele spur. Machine-gun fire from a German pillbox swept the slope. It was only the determination of Lieutenant H M McKenzie, 7th Company, The Canadian Machine Gun Corps, that galvanized the Canadian Light Infantry to charge. McKenzie himself was soon killed but the pillbox was taken by Sergeant G H Mullin, making it possible for the Light Infantry to advance.

Citation

 For most conspicuous bravery and skilful handling of the troops under his command during the capture and consolidation of considerably more than the objectives allotted to him, in an attack. Just prior to the advance Maj. Pearkes was wounded in the left thigh. Regardless of his wound, he continued to lead his men with the utmost gallantry, despite many obstacles. At a particular stage of the attack his further advance was threatened by a strong point which was an objective of the battalion on his left, but which they had not succeeded in capturing. Quickly appreciating the situation, he captured and held this point, thus enabling his further advance to be successfully pushed forward. It was entirely due to his determination and fearless personality that he was able to maintain his objective with the small number of men at his command against repeated enemy counterattacks, both his flanks being unprotected for a considerable depth meanwhile. His appreciation of the situation throughout and the reports rendered by him were invaluable to his Commanding Officer in making dispositions of troops to hold the position captured. He showed throughout a supreme contempt of danger and wonderful powers of control and leading. 

Sixth Supplement to The London Gazette of 8 January 1918. 11 January 1918, Numb. 30471, p. 722

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