Lt John Gourley Pierce, 12th Field Company, Military Cross

Lt John Gourlay Pierce, 12th Field Company, Military Cross
Military Cross

John Pierce was born in Pembroke, ON. He was a veteran of the Second World War and served with the 12th Field Company, Royal Canadian Engineers in Italy. He was awarded the Military Cross for bravery during Operation DIADEM, the breaking of the Gustav Line during the Liri Valley Campaign.  Days before British forces assaulted the strong German defences, Lt Pierce conducted reconnaissance of cross sites on the River Gari well ahead of the British. Moving through enemy dominated territory, he carried out his reconnaissance, laying low during the day of 9 May and returning safely to Canadian lines later that night. The sites selected by Lt Pierce were used for the follow-on Canadian assault on the Adolf Hitler Line on 23 May 1944.

After the war, John returned to Canada and joined his father’s Land Survey & Engineering firm and obtained his certificate as an Ontario Land Surveyor (OLS). His father’s firm carried out the survey of the entire Manitoba-Ontario border between the USA and Hudson Bay. The last 160 miles to Hudson Bay was surveyed during the winter of 1947-48.

Post Script: John Gourley Pierce, P.Eng., O.L.S., M.C. died in Ottawa, ON on 10 May 2003.  See Lt Pierce's Last Post entry here.


On the nights of 8 and 9 May 1944, Lieutenant Pierce, 12 Canadian Field Company, Royal Canadian Engineers, was despatched on patrol in order to determine the best location to erect a bridge over the River Gari, near the junction with the River Liri. Though the enemy were holding the far bank he worked his way down to the River Gari unobserved and returned with valuable information regarding the bridging site and location of enemy minefields. This information greatly assisted in the planning of the bridge operations. Lieutenant Pierce throughout the patrols displayed daring and initiative. On one occasion he passed through a field of anti-personnel mines which in darkness is a hazardous task and approached to within 80 feet of the enemy positions without disclosing his whereabouts or intentions. Since 1 August 1944, Lieutenant Pierce has been employed at Headquarters Royal Canadian Engineers 1 Canadian Corps Troops and has carried out his duties thoroughly and efficiently, thus contributing greatly to the efficiency of the formation as a whole.

Return to the Liri Valley Gallantry page.