||Comments from Richard
Van Wyck Laughton (grandson) based on research conducted to date:
||This photograph of G. V. Laughton appears
to have been taken outside the Ontario Legislature Building in Toronto,
Ontario, at the time he was awarded the Military Cross for his actions at
Vimy Ridge. The statement on award of the MC was as follows:
"He displayed conspicuous
bravery and devotion to duty and by his splendid example and lack of
interest in his own welfare, encouraged his men to remarkable
achievements. "He led a bombing squad against a machine gun
which was holding up the attack and, after the bombers we all killed,
captured the gun single handed and destroyed its crew. After all
the officers had been killed or wounded he assumed command of the fallen
battalion for the remaining days and held the position unaided against
repeated German counter-attacks".
||The Lieutenant Governor of Ontario present
George Van Wyck Laughton with the Military Cross at the closing of the
1918 session of the Ontario Legislature. Just as the Governor
General is the Queen's Representative in Canada, the Lieutenant Governor
(Sir John Hendrie) is the Queen's Representative in the Province of
The second clipping is a copy of the
original notice that appeared in the Free Press (still known today as the
"London Free Press") shortly after the award of the MC at the
Ontario Legislature in 1918.
Information received in April 2006 shows that the actual decoration date
was November 29, 1917 (see Chris
Baker attachments), so this may have been ceremonial.
||In the records that I received there were
other accounts of the actions of my Grandfather that lead to the award of
the Military Cross. Unfortunately, I have only the Xerox copies of
these documents and I suspect that the originals may have been destroyed
in the 1967 house fire, or that these were sent by the National Archives
in Ottawa after the fire.
The records show that George Van Wyck
Laughton also held the rank of Lieutenant Colonel of the battalion at one
time, unfortunately as he was the only one left. I am looking for
additional details on this aspect of the records.
||This newspaper report was
not in the family collection, rather it was provided by a fellow
researcher of the Canadian Expeditionary
Force Study Group (CEFSG). The article is from the on-line collection
of "The Toronto World" (page 2 of March 25, 1918). This is
available on-line at:
Newspapers - Toronto World Link
Click on images for full scale versions.
Cross of George Van Wyck Laughton.
As stated on the web site for Veterans
The Military Cross can be
awarded to commissioned officers of the substantive rank of Captain or
below (therefore acting and temporary Majors are eligible) or Warrant
Officers for distinguished and meritorious services in battle. In 1920,
the terms were altered to clearly state the award was for gallant and
distinguished services in action and that naval and air force officers
could be awarded the cross for gallant and distinguished services on the
FOOD LESS FOR FIVE DAYS AND NIGHTS
To be concealed behind German
Lines and remain food less for five days and nights was the recent
experience of G. V. Laughton, Northumberland Fusiliers. Mr. Laughton
was on night patrol with a sergeant, and eventually found himself behind
the German front line and unable to get back to his own unit. The
sergeant was killed by a shell, and the officer had perforce to remain
hidden for five days and nights without food.
At the end of the period the
British captured the enemy position, and Lieut. Laughton was found
unconscious as a result of his privations. The features of this case
have aroused great interest in medical circles. Mr. Laughton has
been granted extended furlough to Canada.
(see MIA notice below that may related to
this period of officer missing).
||Extract from London Official Gazette.
Mentioned in despatches by Sir Douglas Haig, Commander-in-Chief of the
British Forces in France.
Sec. Lieut. George Van Wyck
Laughton, Northumberland Fus. For conspicuous gallantry and devotion
to duty. During 24 hours he was on a picquet in front of our
own lines and conducted a daylight patrol to within 50 yards of the enemy
trenches. Throughout he displayed the greatest courage and
determination during local operations in the Scarpe Valley in March, 1917.
There is residual confusion on this topic, for as
I discovered early in my research (November 3, 2002) that this is the exact wording that is in the St.
George's Gazette of July 31, 1917, for which is says that 2nd-Lieut George
Van Wyck Laughton was awarded the Military Cross. This conflicts
with the records in my possession that say this event "is not the MC
but another little clover leaf on ribbons". The records in
Canada show that the MC was for the raid on the machine gun on April 9,
1917 whereas the event in the St. George's Gazette took place in March of
|Articles from the Globe of
June 15, 1917 were discovered by CEFSG member Ken MacLean and posted to
the CEFSG Forum for recovery in March 2009. That is reported here:
Post: 13 March 1916
There is evidence to suggest that this report
relates to an action that is unrelated to the Military Cross. There were
reports of this story in the family archives of his son Paul Laughton,
which specifically referred to George turning around to talk to his
Sergeant and he "was gone". If I recall correctly, this was
post-Arras and took place after the units moved back to Passchendaele.
stories report that Grandfather Laughton received wounds to his leg and
abdomen and that the doctors could not believe that he survived in this
condition while buried for 5 days in the mud. The story continues to WWII
when Grandfather Laughton went to enlist again and appeared for his
medical examination before the same doctor who saw him after his WWI
wounds. The doctor reportedly stated something along the lines of "Laughton
- what are you doing here - you are dead!"
blood clot from these WWI wounds broke loose shortly after an brain aneurysm
operation in June of 1966, which claimed the life of Grandfather
Laughton. Apparently the clot was freed by the anticoagulants and migrated
to his brain.
It is unclear which
parts of the story have changed over time and through the various
interpretations. As of 2011 we have yet to find the exact references for
the MC and the action with the machine gun capture.
||Added February 1, 2013:
This image was provided by Robert (Rob135Bn) of the Canadian
Expeditionary Force Study Group (this
post) which appeared in the June 18, 1917 edition of the London Free
As there continues to be questions as to exactly which action resulted
in Grandfather Laughton's MC award, this is important. The paper was
published with the announcement of the MC in June of 1917 which predates
the action at Passchendaele which was one of the options previously under
This article also refers to the MC being the result of the capture of
the Machine Gun, which differs from other records.
War Badge, as a result of being invalided out of the Army after
his wounds, still attached to his "Dog Tag" of the 26th
Northumberland Fusiliers, as I received it.
The web site for the "British Army in
the Great War" states the following:
Many of the men and women who
were invalided out of the army after a wound or sickness that led to a
medical down-grading were awarded this badge. It was authorized in
September 1916, and applied to people in this category whether they were
at a theatre of war or at home. They were individually numbered, on the
reverse side. Index cards for the Silver War Badge are part of the Medal
Rolls, and give a certain amount of vital information about the recipient.
back of the badge is stamped with "B45828", the "B"
designating is was awarded for service in the BEF. Had it been for
the CEF it would have had the letter "C".
Note that his dog
tags are attached with the chain to the badge, as grandfather Laughton had
them stored. It identifies him as "G. V. Laughton 26
Northumberland Fusiliers". There is no number on the dog tag,
other than the back where it is stamped "Sterling 925 R".
In May 2004, as a result of work on the Family Tree
Project, I came across a number of stories in the Toronto Star (Ontario, Canada)
that mentioned the exploits of George Van Wyck Laughton. These are
referenced on the Family
Tree web site at that location, which can be reached directly through these
Star - May 5, 1917: Brother Harry Van Wyck Laughton reports on the
wounding of George during the Battle of Arras with the "Fighting
Fifth" (26th Northumberland Fusiliers, Tyneside
Star - May 19, 1917: In another letter, probably to Harry (not L. V. his
sister as noted) George is reported in hospital after he and his team of 30
men deceived the German army at Vimy Ridge. As noted above, there is
some confusion (at least at my level) as to what lead George to be awarded
the Military Cross and other medals at Vimy Ridge. British and
Canadian records do not agree.|
Star - June 14, 1917: The Toronto Star reports on the gallantry of
George Van Wyck Laughton and the award of the Military Cross for these
efforts at Vimy Ridge. This article, unlike others I have seen refers
to action in the Village of Gravelle. Sooner or later we will get to
the bottom of the issues surrounding the escapades of Grandfather Laughton.|
As a result of new questions from the CEF Forum (http://www.cefresearch.ca),
I was also drawn back to the uniform insignia that I had in a small wooden box
from my grandmother. What I posted on our website, which you can see from
these thinks, are identified as follows:
To the best of my understanding, these were
all taken from George Van Wyck Laughton's uniform by his wife, after his death
in the 1960's. As such I do not know which ones relate to WWI and which might
be for his service in WWII. Tragically, our house burnt down in 1969, just a
few years after GVL's death, so the box has both "burnt" and "unburnt"
medals in the collection. The ones I have posted here are NOT burnt and are in
the package with his 26th Northumberland Fusiliers cap and shoulder badges, so
I must presume that they are WWI era. I have not included the 26th NF badges
as I believe they are elsewhere on my site.
I took some digital photos as that may help others identify what these are or
at least raise some interest. I have not put a page on the web site but if you
go to this link you can see the individual photographs. What I see as writing
(old 52 year old transcription with magnifying glass) are as follows: (in
brackets what is on reverse of button)
(click on the links below to see the images)
photo1.jpg - collection in front of computer
photo2.jpg - 1 of "quo vata focant" (.... London - unclear)
photo3.jpg - 6 of "CANADA honi soit qui mal pense" (Wm Scully Ltd.
photo4.jpg - 2 of "quo vata vacant" (Pit & Co., 31 Dado St.)
photo5.jpg - 6 of "quo vata vacant" (smaller, nothing on back,
thread on one)
photo6.jpg - 6 of "uno tria juncta" , nothing on back, double
photo7.jpg - 4 of "una tria juncta", nothing on back, snap pins
photo8.jpg - CANADA
photo8.jpg - 3 fabric pads, 3 pins (no writing)
In April 2005 there were other questions on the CEF Forum
that related to the pay that officers and enlisted men received when they were
enlisted and then on duty. I was fortunate to have the original Pay Book
from my grandfathers records, so I was able to post these to the web site for
all to see and share.
Here is what I have posted:
|Instructions for Officers