Spr Donald Allen Vosdingh, 3rd Field Company, Military Medal

Background 

On the night of 12/13 December 1944, a bridgehead was established over the Canale Naviglio by 1 Canadian Infantry Brigade. This was held with great difficulty in the face of many fierce counter-attacks and constant shelling by the enemy. Communications were poor, and there was only one usable road leading to the crossing over the Canale. As the enemy was using many tanks and self-propelled guns in his counter-attacks, it was absolutely vital that this forward route be kept open for the passage of our own supporting arms. This became even more essential when on the night of 13 December 1944, 2 Canadian Infantry Brigade took over with the task of expanding and consolidating the bridgehead.

During the 24 hour period from 1700 hours, 13 December, one platoon of 3 Canadian Field Company, Royal Canadian Engineers, was given the task of repairing and maintaining the forward route. Sapper Vosdingh, Royal Canadian Engineers, a soldier of this company, was operating a D-4 Bulldozer on this work. The area was muddy, and the road in bad condition, so that many vehicles were stuck; moreover, the road and the whole area leading up to the crossing were still under continuous shell and mortar fire, so that several vehicles were knocked out, adding to the difficulty of keeping the route open. Oblivious to the danger from shells, even though the bulldozer was not armoured, Sapper Vosdingh kept at his work, building up and repairing the roadway and filling in holes and clearing vehicles off the road as they became stuck. In this way he extricated or removed two Honey tanks, six Jeep ambulances, three Jeeps and trailers, four Universal Carriers (one an ambulance carrier) and several anti-tank guns and portees.

His work took him off the road and verges at many points along its length, thus adding the hazard of mines to the others which he faced. This Sapper nevertheless allowed nothing to interfere with his work, and throughout the whole period, largely by his individual efforts, kept the road open. By the end of that time he had not slept for 48 hours. As a direct result of his efforts, tanks and supporting weapons were able to get forward to assist in consolidation of the bridgehead, adding materially to the success of the operation. His cool manner and strong initiative were at all times a source of inspiration to all the men working with him.