Lt Arnold Reginald Belanger, 1st Field Company, Military Cross

Background 

On the night of 11/12 December 1944, 3 Canadian Infantry Brigade was ordered to establish a bridgehead over the Lamone River, in the area Map Reference 4135. The brigade was supported in this operation by 1 Canadian Field Company, Royal Canadian Engineers, who were able to build a bridge at the only suitable site in the area, Map Reference 415352. Lieutenant Arnold Reginald Belanger commanded No.3 Platoon of this company.

The task of the platoon was to establish a Class 2 raft crossing at Map Reference 415352 and subsequently to build a bridge for Class 9 vehicles at the same site. This area, as was subsequently established, was included in the enemy's defensive fire plan, and was the scene of heavy and frequent mortaring and shelling from the start of the operation. Lieutenant Belanger, showing the greatest tenacity and drive, however, so organized and pressed the work that the raft crossing for anti-tank guns and jeeps was completed by 0800 hours on the 12th of December 1944. During daylight, as the operation progressed, shelling of the area increased in intensity. Lieutenant Belanger realized the urgency of the task and by arranging shifts and reliefs to minimize the strain of the constant shellfire, was able to finish most of the approach work for the bridge by darkness. He himself, however, remained in control of the work throughout. During this period, the platoon suffered casualties to personnel, equipment and vehicles from the enemy fire.

Immediately darkness began to fall, vehicles carrying the bridging equipment were able to come up, and Lieutenant Belanger and his men turned to the task of erecting the bridge. All were tired by now and the shelling and mortaring continued unabated. Such was Lieutenant Belanger's drive, energy and example, however, that the work continued unchecked, and a Class 9 crossing over the river obstacle was completed by first light on 13 December.

The courage and example under fire displayed by this officer undoubtedly helped to sustain the morale and working enthusiasm of his men. It was largely as a result of his leadership and bravery that the bridge, which for several hours was the only crossing over the Lamone and was the lifeline of the brigade, was able to be completed as early as it was.