Lt John Elgin Reesor, 4th Field Company, Military Cross

Background 

During the battle for the crossing of the Sola Via Cupa, 4 Canadian Field Company, Royal Canadian Engineers, was operating in support of 3 Canadian Infantry Brigade. Lieutenant John Elgin Reesor was an officer of this company.

In the early afternoon of 2 December 1944, the West Nova Scotia Regiment forced a crossing of the Scola at Map Reference 432310. Lieutenant Reesor immediately commenced his reconnaissance of a crossing place, although only one platoon had succeeded in establishing themselves on the far side. By 1500 hours he had completed his plans,a and returned to arrange for the erection of a Bailey bridge during the hours of darkness.

By 2200 hours the bridgehead had been increased to company size, but the battle was still raging, and the site and approaches were under constant enemy small arms and mortar fire. Lieutenant Reesor, however, although completely exposed to this fire, had by that time completed a further detailed reconnaissance and now commenced work with his men on the bank seats. At approximately 2330 hours very heavy enemy pressure forced the withdrawal of some of the infantry, and owing to the uncertainty of the situation, Lieutenant Reesor was ordered to stop work.

At 0230 hours on 3 December, however, there was still a platoon on the far bank, and Lieutenant Reesor, realizing the importance of a bridge to these men, decided that his bridge would be completed. Although the mortar and small arms fire continued unabated, he organized his men and again set to work. By his efforts and example, constantly rallying and encouraging his men, the work was pressed to such good effect that the crossing was read at 0430 hours. Thus it was possible at first light to bring forward tanks and pass them across in support of the platoon after which the expansion and consolidation of the bridgehead was quickly accomplished.

There is no doubt that the coolness, determination and leadership of Lieutenant Reesor so inspired his men that they were able to carry on their task under very difficult conditions. This officer's singleness of purpose in carrying on with the construction of this all-important crossing under very intense fire and in the thick of a battle contributed substantially to the successful outcome of the engagement.