Spr Raymond Le Bouthillier, 23rd Field Company, Military Medal

Background 

On 25 September 1944, 23rd Canadian Field Company was ordered to assist 43 Division Royal Engineers during the night 25/26 September 1944 in the evacuation of 1 British Airborne Troops from the bridgehead which they held on the north bank of the River Neder Rijn just west of Arnhem.

The company moved up from an advanced harbour at Valburg at 1900 hours to an offloading area, arriving there at 2050 hours to cover any noise which might arise from the movement of vehicles and unloading of equipment within earshot of German troops across the river or on our flanks. The enemy replied to this fire and our operation was under continuous fire from enemy guns, mortars, machine guns and snipers during the whole of the time we were engaged.

The night was pitch black and it rained heavily, with a driving cold wind. Fires started by bombers in the afternoon and by the shelling at night along with flares fired by the enemy served to allow him to observe our movements during the night.

Sapper Le Bouthillier acted as crewman to one coxswain for 14 trips and when a relief was brought in he refused to quit and carried on for an additional twelve trips with a relief coxswain.

Regardless of the personal danger, he directed his craft well out to the flanks of the bridgehead calling out for survivors of the Airborne troops, who could not make their way to organized embarkation beaches, to make themselves known, so that they might be taken off. On every crossing he jumped into the water as the boat was coming ashore to hold it off from crashing on to a rock or any other obstacle which might crush the hull and sink the craft.

He carried on in this fashion for about five hours by which time he was exhausted and had to be ordered back to the company rest area. In all, the draft in which he operated brought off well over 500 men, many of whom could never have been rescued had not Sapper Le Bouthillier faced the added hazards involved in directing his boat to those points which were almost within grasp of the enemy.