Corporal John Cunningham V.C., 2nd Battalion, Prince of Wales' Leinster Regiment

April 16, 2017

 

Remembering the Fallen: on this day in 1917, Corporal John Cunningham V.C., 2nd Battalion, Prince of Wales' Leinster Regiment, died in France from injuries received in combat four days earlier. His regiment was to make an assault on the Bois-en-Hache on the northern edge of Vimy Ridge. The attack began before dawn, there was snow on the ground and landmarks were hard to discern because of the slush in the many shell holes and craters. The Leinsters continued their advance in these poor conditions as the enemy opened up with heavy rifle and machine-gun fire. However, they managed to beat the Germans back from their first line before moving downhill towards the wooded slope and the German second line. Volleys of enemy gunfire came across the Souchez Valley and continued to take their toll. Corporal Cunningham’s Victoria Cross citation reads: “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 enemy 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 Communal Cemetery near Noeux-les-Mines, France. John, from Stradavoher near Thurles in Co. Tipperary, was 26 years old.

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December 11, 2018

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