Lt John Walter Young, 1th Field Squadron, Military Cross

Background 

On the night of 10/11 December 1944, Lieutenant John Walter Young, Corps of Royal Canadian Engineers, was detailed to construct a Class 9 Folding Boat Equipment Crossing over the Lamone River in support of an 11 Canadian Infantry Brigade attack. Two platoons of infantry had been detailed as a covering party. On arrival at the site at 2200 hours, 10 December 1944, Lieutenant Young and the infantry officer crossed the river to make a detailed reconnaissance. While so engaged, an enemy machine gun opened up on the far dike, forcing the infantry to take cover. Lieutenant Young made his way back across the river and organized a party to ferry the infantry across one by one in a rubber reconnaissance boat. This was done successfully in spite of machine gun fire, light mortar fire and an enemy self-propelled gun a few hundred yards away. A heavy mortar concentration killed the ferrying party as the last party was being ferried across. Lieutenant Young then tried to bring a bulldozer onto the site to start work but, at each attempt, heavy and accurate mortar fire would come down and an enemy self-propelled gun would open up on the site. Several casualties were incurred with each attempt. From 0400 hours until daylight 11 December 1944, enemy fire subsided sufficiently for an armoured bulldozer to work. Throughout the morning, movement on top of the dike was under observation and brought down heavy mortar fire on the site, one "stonk" lasting for three-quarters of an hour. On all these occasions, Lieutenant Young refused to withdraw from the site and continually rallied his men back onto the job. By 1400 hours 11 December 1944, mortar fire had subsided and given way to spasmodic but accurate shelling which caused further casualties. Lieutenant Young's apparent contempt for danger and determination to complete his task was a great inspiration to his men who by this time were very tired and considerably shaken. The bride was completed at 1945 hours 11 December, allowing badly needed supplies and supporting weapons to reach out troops in the bridgehead.