Cyril Edward Gourley
Cyril Edward Gourley
|Born||19 January 1893|
|Died||31 January 1982|
|Unit||Royal Field Artillery|
|Battles/wars||World War I|
Croix de guerre (France)
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.
First World War service
Gourley had joined 7th Lancashire Battery of the IV West Lancashire (Howitzer) Brigade, Royal Field Artillery (Territorial Force) in May 1914. He was mobilised with his unit on the outbreak of war in August 1914 and went with it to the Western Front. His battery was transferred to CCLXXVI (276) Brigade in 1916. In September 1917, he was awarded the Military Medal for conspicuous gallantry in putting out a fire near an ammunition dump.
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 All day he held the Germans in check, firing over open sights on enemy parties, thereby saving his guns, which were withdrawn at nightfall.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 he 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firing with open sights at enemy parties in full view at 300 to 800 yards, and thereby saved his guns, which were withdrawn at nightfall.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
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, the Gourley family moved to Hill Close, School Lane, off Column Road, Grange, West Kirby; the house was later renamed Gourley Grange and the lane renamed Gourley's Lane in his honour. The gardens created by the Gourley family have now been redeveloped as a small housing estate.
During the Second World War, Gourley was a firewatcher in Liverpool.
The Trustees of The Cyril Edward Gourley Victoria Cross Endowment, Registered Charity 525987, set up in his honour after the First World War from local donations, provide grants to University Students who attended schools, or reside in the Hoylake and West Kirby area, subject to certain conditions.
- "Medal entitlement of Captain Cyril Edward Gourley". victoriacross.org.uk. Retrieved 17 February 2015.
- "Sergeant Cyril Edward Gourley VC MM". Liverpool Echo. 2 November 2010. Retrieved 9 August 2014.
- "No. 30287". The London Gazette (Supplement). 17 September 1917. p. 9607.
- National Archives.
- Litchfield, Appendix II.
- Anon, History pp. 35–42
- Anon, History; Appendix VI.
- Coop, p. 173.
- Farndale, Western Front, p. 250.
- "No. 30523". The London Gazette (Supplement). 13 February 1918. pp. 2004–2005.
- Protheroe, M. J. A History of Calday Grange Grammar School, West Kirby, 1636-1976 (1976)
- Gliddon, Gerald (2004). VCs of the First World War: Cambrai 1917. Sutton Publishing. ISBN 0750934093.
- The Register of the Victoria Cross. This England. 1997. ISBN 0-906324-03-3.
- Harvey, David (2000). Monuments to Courage. Naval & Military Press Ltd. ISBN 1-84342-356-1.
- Murphy, James (2008). Liverpool VCs. Pen and Sword Books.
- Anon, History of the 359 (4th West Lancs.) Medium Regiment R.A. (T.A.) 1859–1959, Liverpool: 359 Medium Regiment, 1959.
- Rev J. O. Coop, The Story of the 55th (West Lancashire) Division, Liverpool: Daily Post Printers, 1919/Uckfield: Naval & Military Press, 2002, ISBN 978-1843422631.
- Gen Sir Martin Farndale, History of the Royal Regiment of Artillery: Western Front 1914–18, Woolwich: Royal Artillery Institution, 1986, ISBN 1-870114-00-0.
- Norman E. H. Litchfield, The Territorial Artillery 1908–1988 (Their Lineage, Uniforms and Badges), Nottingham: Sherwood Press, 1992, ISBN 0-9508205-2-0.
- Location of grave and VC medal (Cheshire)