Cpl Alastair Aeneas Lawrence 13rd Field Company, Military Medal

Background 

During the attachment of 13 Canadian Field Company, Royal Canadian Engineers, to Porter Force, 17 to 30 November 1944, Corporal Lawrence was in charge of No.4 Section, attached to 27 Lancers and 2721st Field Squadron, Royal Air Force Regiment. This tentacle of Porter Force was forcing its way forward on Highway 1, 6 from the Savio River to the Uniti against odds. The surrounding country was flooded; only buildings, haystacks and the highway were above water. The enemy held the vantage points and it was not known whether he occupied a building until it was reached. The sugar factory dominated the countryside and any movement during daylight was always detected. For night protection the enemy had mined the road with anti-tank mines, and the verges with Schumines. Against this the Sappers had to sweep mines to allow passage for armoured vehicles. Each day, from 18 to 26 November 1944, Corporal Lawrence led his section out in the early morning to clear mines. On 19 and again on 23 November while the Sappers were busy, the enemy suddenly fired on them with small arms and mortars. They flattened themselves on the road, not daring to move to the verges because of Schumines, waiting for the initial firing to cease, then crawled without cover until obscured from the point of fire. By his cool leadership, Corporal Lawrence heartened his men to perform this duty morning after morning, encouraging them by example, with the one object in view, of getting the armoured vehicles forward. The success of the operation, clearing the enemy out of all pockets south of the Uniti, was made possible by the work of this Non-Commissioned Officer and his men. Corporal Lawrence continued yeoman work during the operations in Italy and during the period this unit was engaged in Holland. With his section he was at Arnhem, assisting in the clearing of the streets south of the railway while the enemy still held the north of the town. Danger does not deter from his sense of duty and at all times he has shown leadership and ability.