Case study

WW1 Canadian VC recipient John George Pattison

The story of Canadian First World War Victoria Cross recipient John George Pattison.

John George Pattison
Credit: National Defence Canada

70 men from Canada received the Victoria Cross, Britain’s highest award for gallantry, during the First World War. As part of the Centenary Commemorations the people of the United Kingdom marked their gratitude to those courageous men by presenting a bronze memorial plaque to their home country engraved with their names. The plaque is now displayed at the British High Commission Ottawa. This archive tells their stories.

Name: John George Pattison

DOB: 8 September 1875

Place of Birth: Woolwich, England

Date of Action: 10 April 1917

Place of Action: Vimy Ridge, France

Rank: Private

Regiment: 50th Infantry Battalion

John George Pattison was born in Woolwich, England and emigrated to Canada in 1906, with his wife and four children. He worked for the Calgary Gas Company before enlisting in the Canadian Expeditionary Force in May 1916.

Private Pattison was one of four Canadians awarded the Victoria Cross during the attack on Vimy Ridge in France on 9 April 1917. He was serving with the 50th Infantry Battalion which was part of the successful Canadian attack on German positions. His citation reads:

For most conspicuous bravery in attack. When the advance of our troops was held up by an enemy machine gun, which was inflicting severe casualties, Pte. Pattison, with utter disregard of his own safety, sprang forward and, jumping from shell-hole to shell-hole, reached cover within 30 yards of the enemy gun. From this point, in face of heavy fire, he hurled bombs, killing and wounding some of the crew, then rushed forward, overcoming and bayonetting the surviving five gunners. His valour and initiative undoubtedly saved the situation and made possible the further advance to the objective.

On 3 June 1917 Private Pattison was killed during an attack in Lens, France. He is buried in La Chaudiere Military Cemetery, Vimy. The Pattison bridge in Calgary and the Mount Pattison Peak, are named in his honour.

Published 20 June 2016