Cyril Edward Gourley

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Cyril Edward Gourley
Victoria Cross Medal without Bar.png
Born 19 January 1893
Liverpool, England
Died 31 January 1982
Haslemere, Surrey
Buried at Grange Cemetery, West Kirby, Wirral
Allegiance  United Kingdom
Service/branch Flag of the British Army.svg British Army
Rank Captain
Unit Royal Field Artillery
Battles/wars World War I
Awards Victoria Cross
Military Medal
Croix de guerre (France)[1]

Cyril Edward Gourley VC MM (19 January 1893 – 31 January 1982) was an English recipient of the Victoria Cross, the highest and most prestigious award for gallantry in the face of the enemy that can be awarded to British and Commonwealth forces.[2]

Early life[edit]

Cyril Edward Gourley was born in Wavertree, Liverpool and educated at Calday Grange Grammar School and Liverpool University, graduating in 1913.

First World War service[edit]

In September 1917, he was awarded the Military Medal in September 1917 for conspicuous gallantry in putting out a fire near an ammunition dump.[3]

Victoria Cross[edit]

Gourley was 24 years old, and a sergeant in the 'D' Battery of the 276th (West Lancashire) Brigade, Royal Field Artillery, British Army during the First World War when the following deed took place for which he was awarded the VC.[4]

On 30 November 1917 at Little Priel Farm, east of Epehy, France, during the Battle of Cambrai, Sergeant Gourley was in command of a section of howitzers. During an enemy advance, when their forces were within a few hundred yards of him, both to the front and on one flank, and though plagued by snipers, Sergeant Gourley managed to keep one gun firing. At one point he pulled the gun out of the pit and engaged a machine-gun at 500 yards, knocking it out with a direct hit. All day he held the Germans in check, firing over open sights on enemy parties, thereby saving his guns, which were withdrawn at nightfall.

The citation reads:

No. 681886 Sjt. Cyril Edward Gourley, M.M., R.F.A. (West Kirby).

For most conspicuous bravery when in command of a section of howitzers. Though the enemy advanced in force getting within 400 yards in front, between 300 and 400 yards to one flank and with snipers in the rear, Sjt. Gourley managed to keep one gun in action practically throughout the day. Though frequently driven off always returned, carrying ammunition, laying and firing the gun himself, taking first one and then another of the detachment to assist him. When the enemy advanced he pulled his gun out of the pit, and engaged a machine gun at 500 yards, knocking it out with a direct hit. All day he held the enemy in check, firing with open sights at enemy parties in full view at 300 to 800 yards, and thereby saved his guns, which were withdrawn at nightfall. He had previously been awarded the Military Medal for conspicuous gallantry.

— London Gazette, 13 February 1918[5]

Gourley was originally denied a commission due to "defective eyesight", but later rose to the rank of captain.[6]

Post-war[edit]

From 1919, Gourley worked for Lever Brothers, travelling widely to open up new business for the company. On his retirement a director of the company spoke of "...his quiet, gentle courteousness and his readiness to do all he could for other people. In fact he was a jolly good man to have beside you when you were in trouble". In 1925, he moved to Hill Close, School Lane, off Column Road, Grange, West Kirby; his house was later renamed Gourley Grange and the lane renamed Gourley's Lane in his honour. The gardens created by Gourley have now been redeveloped as a small housing estate.

During the Second World War, Gourley was a firewatcher in Liverpool.

In 1952, he moved to Haslemere, Surrey, where he died on 31 January 1982.[7] He is buried in Grange Cemetery, West Kirby, Wirral.[8] Gourley never married.[7]

The Cyril Edward Gourley, VC, Scholarship is awarded in his honour by Liverpool University to undergraduates from Calday Grange Grammar School, West Kirby Grammar School or the Hoylake/West Kirby area.[7]

The medal[edit]

His Victoria Cross, along with his other medals which include the Croix de guerre, is displayed at the Royal Artillery Museum, Woolwich, London.[7]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Medal entitlement of Captain Cyril Edward Gourley". victoriacross.org.uk. Retrieved 17 February 2015. 
  2. ^ "Sergeant Cyril Edward Gourley VC MM". Liverpool Echo. 2 November 2010. Retrieved 9 August 2014. 
  3. ^ "No. 30287". The London Gazette (Supplement). 17 September 1917. p. 9607. 
  4. ^ National Archives.
  5. ^ "No. 30523". The London Gazette (Supplement). 13 February 1918. pp. 2004–2005. 
  6. ^ Protheroe, M. J. A History of Calday Grange Grammar School, West Kirby, 1636-1976 (1976)
  7. ^ a b c d Gliddon, Gerald (2004). VCs of the First World War: Cambrai 1917. Sutton Publishing. ISBN 0750934093. 
  8. ^ Findagrave

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]