A/Maj William Strathearn Leggat, 4th Field Company, Military Cross

Background 

During Operation PLUNDER, 10 Canadian Infantry Brigade was advancing in a northeasterly direction near Friesoythe, crossing the Kusten Canal. By the evening of 18 April 1945, after fierce fighting, a small bridgehead had been secured over the Kusten Canal. The only possible bridge site over the Kusten Canal was well known to the enemy and all his efforts were concentrated on preventing a bridge being built. The infantry had been fighting for two days and at this phase of the operation it was imperative that tanks be brought in to support them as the enemy were throwing in fresh troops and self-propelled guns in an endeavour to penetrate the bridge site. 9 Canadian Field Squadron under the command of Major Leggat were given the task of constructing a 140-foot Class 30 Bailey Bridge over the canal. Up to and during the period of construction of this important bridge, the site was continually subjected to very heavy mortar fire and observed direct fire from self-propelled guns, machine guns and snipers. Major Leggat himself directed the advance party work which was done under observed direct fire from self-propelled guns and at one time his measuring tape was shot in two. Completing the advance party work, he personally directed the construction of the bridge. At a vital stage of this task, a strong enemy force supported by self-propelled guns penetrated to within a short distance of the bridge site. On being informed of this, and advised to get clear, Major Leggat gave a reply which was typical of the manner in which he directed the job, "To hell with the counter-attack, we have a bridge to build". Under a veritable hail of shells, mortar bombs and small arms fire, the bridge and approaches were completed by 0730 hours on 19 Aril and tanks were enabled to fight their way across to support the hard pressed infantry and consolidate the bridgehead. It was Major Leggat's coolness under fire, his leadership and his determination to finish this important task that inspired his men to complete the construction of the bridge vital to the success of the operation and enable 10 Canadian Infantry Brigade to continue the advance.

See also MC award to Captain W.D. Egan, Royal Canadian Corps of Signals