John Cunningham (VC 1917)
Thurles, County Tipperary, Ireland
|Died||16 April 1917 (aged 26–27)
|Unit||Prince of Wales's Leinster Regiment|
John Cunningham VC, (born 1890 – 16 April 1917) was a British soldier during the First World War, an Irish 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.
He was 26 years old, and a corporal in the 2nd Battalion, Prince of Wales's Leinster Regiment, when he performed a deed on 12 April 1917 at Bois-en-Hache, near Barlin, France which earned him the Victoria Cross. Cunningham later died as a result of his injuries.
For most conspicuous bravery and devotion to duty when in command of a Lewis Gun section on the most exposed flank of the attack. His section came under heavy enfilade fire and suffered severely. Although wounded he succeeded almost alone in reaching his objective with his gun, which he got into action in spite of much opposition. When counter-attacked by a party of twenty of the enermy he exhausted his ammunition against them, then, standing in full view, he commenced throwing bombs. He was wounded again, and fell, but picked himself up and continued to fight single-handed with the enemy until his bombs were exhausted. He then made his way back to our lines with a fractured arm and other wounds. There is little doubt that the superb courage of this N.C.O. cleared up a most critical situation on the left flank of the attack. Corporal Cunningham died in hospital from the effects of his wounds.
He is buried in Barlin cemetery, Pas de Calais, plot 1, row A, grave 39.
Listed in order of publication year
- The Register of the Victoria Cross (1981, 1988 and 1997)
- Clarke, Brian D. H. (1986). "A register of awards to Irish-born officers and men". The Irish Sword. XVI (64): 185–287.
- Ireland's VCs (Dept of Economic Development, 1995)
- Monuments to Courage (David Harvey, 1999)
- Irish Winners of the Victoria Cross (Richard Doherty & David Truesdale, 2000)