In defence of his country

First World War: Gordon Stirling earned Military Cross for Valour in rescue, later died in combat.

  • Nov. 5, 2014 9:00 a.m.
In the trenches: Gordon Stirling with the adopted mascot

In the trenches: Gordon Stirling with the adopted mascot

By Deb Chapman

Gordon Stirling was a Salmon Arm man determined to do his part and serve his country during the war effort. This story recounts some of the details of his military service, followed by some of Sterling’s diary entries as he prepared to leave for the front.

Stirling served as an Orderly to Col. McDonald of the Strathcona Horse, then received a commission in the Horse Guards known as “The Blues” and went to the front as a second lieutenant, taking charge and delivering horses. At one point he was hospitalized with trench fever and spent time in London convalescing.

With the cavalry no longer in demand and keen to get back to the front, Stirling accepted a permanent commission in the Scots Guards, where he received machine gun training and joined the machine gun section of the Guards Brigade at the front.  He went through much “severe fighting” according to the Salmon Arm Observer, with only a slight wound in the hand.

In June 1916, he earned the Military Cross for Valour, bringing in two wounded men lying in the open under heavy fire.

According to the Observer, Stirling was told of two soldiers under fire, lying wounded and exposed in the open.

At great personal risk, Stirling went to help, only to have to return for stretcher bearers. After getting one soldier to safety, one of the stretcher bearers lost his nerve. Stirling stepped in to his place and returned. The second rescue took an hour, which must have seemed like an eternity. Neither was wounded but the lieutenant’s   “steel helmet was hit several times whilst his tunic was fairly riddled.” Unfortunately, the wounded soldier lying on the stretcher was hit again.

“No word had been previously received as to (Stirling’s) being wounded at all and it is therefore surmised that the wounds which were the cause of his death must have been inflicted at one of the daring battles which took place (later)… when the Guards and others succeeded in capturing three lines of German trenches,” the Observer continued.

“We join with all our readers in extending to Mr. and Mrs. Stirling and the members of their family our sincerest and heartfelt sympathy in the great and irretrievable loss they have sustained assuring them, at the same time, of the high esteem and admiration which we all feel for the conspicuous bravery displayed by their distinguished son whilst on the field of battle and for the noble sacrifice he has made in laying down his life for the good of his country and the sacred cause of liberty and justice for which she is shedding her life blood on the battlefields of Flanders today.”

Stirling died in combat Sept. 15, 1917 and is buried in grave 9.A.35 in High Wood, London Cemetery and Extension, near the Village of Longueval in France.


Just Posted

A City of Salmon Arm vacuum truck cleans out the city storm drain on Hudson Avenue in Salmon Arm Monday morning, June 14 after a crane truck blew a hydraulic line, spewing oil onto the road. (Martha Wickett - Salmon Arm Observer)
Fire trucks called to small oil spill in Salmon Arm

Traffic delayed on Hudson Avenue Monday morning after crane truck blows hydraulic line

The Great Ogopogo Bathtub Race has been held in Summerland as a fundraising event. Do you know which Canadian city introduced this sport? (Black Press file photo)
QUIZ: A summer’s day at the water

How much do you know about boats, lakes and water?

Cody Bandsma practises kiting with his new paraglider wing at Blackburn Park on Wednesday, June 9, 2021. (Lachlan Labere-Salmon Arm Observer)
VIDEO: Cody Bandsma reaching new heights over Salmon Arm

Former 100 Mile resident discovers Shuswap by air with powered paraglider

A promotional image for The Wharf Sessions album. (Salmon Arm Arts Centre image)
The Wharf Sessions album pays tribute to Salmon Arm’s long-running concert series

Salmon Arm Arts Centre wanted to give recording opportunity to artists in a tough year

(Heather Lueck image)
Crash north of Enderby knocks out power, slows Highway 97A traffic

A witness captured footage of a medical helicopter landing at the scene

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau participates in a plenary session at the G7 Summit in Carbis Bay, England on Friday June 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada donating 13M surplus COVID-19 vaccine doses to poor countries

Trudeau says the government will pay for 87 million shots to be distributed to poor countries

Jann Arden will embark on Canada-wide tour Spring 2022 with a stop in Penticton at the South Okanagan Events Centre on June 13. (Contributed)
Jann Arden schedules Okanagan stop on 2022 Canada-wide tour

The Jann Arden Live! tour has been rescheduled for 2022

A fire deliberately set in a washroom facility in Vernon’s transit terminal could cost the city around $25,000 to repair. (City of Vernon)
Burned-out bathroom could cost Vernon $25K

Despite changes made by city, vandalism on the rise at transit loop loos

Highway notices like this come down effective June 14. Public health restrictions on non-essential travel and commercial operation have hit local businesses in every corner of B.C. (B.C. government)
Province-wide travel back on in B.C.’s COVID-19 restart plan

Gathering changes include up to 50 people for outdoor events

A young child has been taken to hospital after being struck by a vehicle on 30th Avenue in Vernon Friday, June 11, 2021. (Jennifer Smith - Morning Star)
Investigation ongoing after child struck by vehicle downtown Vernon

A young child was taken to hospital Friday with undetermined injuries

David Larsen, left, and co-host Tony Peyton. (K96.3/Twitter)
Popular Kelowna radio host dies after battle with cancer

David Larsen was half of the longtime Kelowna morning-show duo David and Tony

Calgary Stampeders’ Jerome Messam leaps over a tackle during second half CFL western semifinal football action in Calgary, Sunday, Nov. 15, 2015.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
CFL football will be played this summer in Canada

Governors vote unanimously in favour to start the ‘21 campaign on Aug. 5

Citizenship Minister Marco Mendicino holds a press conference in Ottawa on Thursday, Nov. 12, 2020. The federal government is announcing that Indigenous people can now apply to reclaim their names on passports and other government documents. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Indigenous people can now reclaim traditional names on their passports and other ID

Announcement applies to all individuals of First Nations, Inuit and Métis background

Harvesting hay in the Fraser Valley. (Tom Fletcher/Black Press)
COVID-19: B.C. waives farm income requirement for a second year

Property owners don’t need minimum income for 2022 taxes

Most Read