John Pattison of the 50th (Calgary) Infantry Battalion earns the Victoria Cross for his bravery this day at the Battle of Vimy Ridge; he single-handedly attacked and captured a German machine gun nest with grenades; will be killed in action June 3. Vimy, France.
John George Pattison, VC 1875-1917
Soldier, born September 8, 1875, in Woolwich, England; killed in action June 3, 1917, near Lens, France. Pattison came to Canada in 1906; 1916 May, at the age of 40, he enlisted in the 50th (Calgary) Infantry Battalion, Canadian Expeditionary Force; 1917 April 10 Private Pattison earned the Victoria Cross on Vimy Ridge, the day after the ridge was successfully attacked and captured by the Canadian Corps. After surviving the very heavy artillery bombardment and the assault of the previous day, several German units were regrouping in order to stop any further advance by the Canadians. As the 50th Battalion moved forward, its progress was checked by an enemy machine gun. Pattison hurried ahead from shell-hole to shell-hole until he was within 30 metres of the German position. In the face of heavy gunfire, he threw hand grenades into the emplacement, killing and wounding some of the enemy. Before the five remaining defenders could recover, Private Pattison charged the position and overcame them, for which he was awarded the Victoria Cross.
Pattison survived Vimy, but just over seven weeks later, he was killed in an attack on a German-held generating station near Lens, France. Pattison Bridge in Calgary, Alberta and a mountain peak in Jasper National Park (also in Alberta) are named in his honour.
“For most conspicuous bravery in attack.
When the advance of our troops was held up by an enemy machine gun, which was inflicting severe casualties, Pte. Pattison, with utter disregard of his own safety, sprang forward and, jumping from shell-hole to shell-hole, reached cover within 30 yards of the enemy gun.
From this point, in face of heavy fire, he hurled bombs, killing and wounding some of the crew, then rushed forward, overcoming and bayonetting the surviving five gunners.
His valour and initiative undoubtedly saved the situation and made possible the further advance to the objective.”
(London Gazette, no.30215, 2 August 1917)
Source – http://canadachannel.ca/canadianbirthdays/index.php/John_Pattison