Lt Edward Leland Healy, 1st Field Company, Military Cross

Background 

On the evening of 12 December 1944, 1 Canadian Infantry Brigade was advancing to establish a bridgehead over the Canale Naviglio. Before reaching the Canale they had to cross the Fossa Vecchio. The Germans had blown the bridge over this obstacle on the only route on the Brigade axis of advance. It was therefore essential that this obstacle be bridged as early as possible after forward elements had crossed, in order that the bridgehead operation might be adequately supported. The task of bridging this gap was given to the platoon commanded by Lieutenant Healy.

Early in the night Lieutenant Healy's platoon began preparing the bank seat for the bridge on the Fossa Vecchio. As the advance of the Brigade was by now known to the enemy, the site was almost constantly under mortar and shell fire with machine guns firing on fixed lines over it. Lieutenant Healy remained on the job throughout, and but word and example spurred on his men to such good effort that by the time the bridging equipment arrived, the seats were ready.

It was by now getting towards dawn on the 13 December, and as the operation progressed, enemy fire became more intense. At daybreak the enemy counter-attacked our infantry on Canale Naviglio with tanks and infantry and a squadron of our tanks from another part of the front was called for. In order to provide for their passage at this early stage, Lieutenant Healy was forced to change the design of the bridge, which he did while work was still continuing. With many words of encouragement to his men, and himself always in the forefront, he succeeded in carrying on the work even during the most intense mortar and shell fire. Such was the progress made that as the tanks arrived the bridge was completed in what might well be termed a "Photo Finish". Fourteen tanks crossed the bridge and arrived at the Canale in time to give much needed support to our infantry.

Thus, by his efforts and zeal, Lieutenant Healy and his platoon made possible the timely arrival of tank support which largely contributed to the saving of the Brigade bridgehead. His courage under fire, his skill and leadership of constructing this difficult crossing, and his inspiration and leadership of his men, earned the gratitude and admiration of all, and are well worthy of this award.