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The Valour of a Newfoundland Soldier

35 - The Valour of a Newfoundland Soldier

 

 

from The Treasury of Newfoundland Stories published, by Maple Leaf Mills Limited, in 1961

Of all the acts of heroism during World War I, few can surpass that of a Newfoundland Regiment soldier, Lieut. Cyril Gardner. It happened one night when Allied troops had put the Germans into flight and were advancing over the enemy line. Gardner, than a company sergeant-major, leaped into a German trench and, unarmed, capture a company of 68 singlehanded . . . by disarming the first German he met and calling upon the remainder to surrender.

Although he didn't disarm all the enemy company, he marched them back to Newfoundland trenches. However, as he was doing this, a British officer charged down on them and was about to open fire when Gardner ran up and stopped him. It is said that he told the officer if he shot one of the Germans he would be shot himself.

Seeing Gardner's quick move, a German officer among the captured men took an Iron Cross from his tunic and pinned it on the gallant Newfoundlander. It is believed to be the first - and probably the last - time an Allied soldier received an enemy decoration for faithful performance of duty.

Both Cyril Gardner and his brother, Edward, were killed in the First World War, but the Iron Cross and other medals won by these two brave Newfoundlanders are still treasured by the Gardner family of Trinity and British Harbour.

 

 

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This page transcribed by James Butler, 2000
REVISED: August 2002 (Terry Piercey)

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