A Distinguished Conduct Medal to Lance Corporal W. Bircham, 20th Canadian Infantry, an award for Courcelette on the Somme 15th September 1916
Distinguished Conduct Medal, Geo V, named to 57067 Lance Corporal W. Bircham, 20th Canadian Infantry. DCM, London Gazette 13th February 1917 ‘For conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty. He displayed great courage and determination in taking supplies forward to advance troops under very heavy fire.’ There is no reference to Bircham’s actions in the 20th Battalion War Diary. With full service papers, born West Hartlepool, Durham, England on 9th March 1882, to UK aboard SS Megantic on 24th May 1915, enlisted 13th November 1914, to France 15th September 1915, returned to Canada on 13th May 1919 aboard SS Caronia, and was discharged on 25th May 1919. He is noted as being recommended for the award of the DCM in the book ‘The History of the Twentieth Canadian Battalion (Central Ontario Regiment), Canadian Expeditionary Force in the Great War 1914-18’ by Major D.J. Corrigall, DSO, MC. The award was for the award on Courcelette, Somme on 15th September 1916 ‘At last the storm broke, the roar was deafening. The whirring shells whizzed over our heads and shrapnel spouted into the enemy’s trenches. Machine guns spat forth their deadly bullets. From the German lines flares – the S.O.S. alarm call for help – was shot frantically into the air. At 6.24am with bayonets gleaming, we left the trenches.’ A tank action which failed, the Battalion eventually reached its objective and was relieved on the 17th September. Battalion had 3 officers and 75 other ranks killed and 7 Officers and 204 other ranks wounded. Page 86 off this book records all the recommendations for awards from this action. This one of 1,215 DCMs, 25 bars, and 1 third award bar to Canadian Infantry during the Great War.