Sapper Raymond LeBouthillier
Unit : 23rd Field Company RCE, 43rd (Wessex) Division
Army No. : E 28357
Awards : Military Medal
On 25th September 1944 23 Canadian Field Company was ordered to assist 43 Division Royal Engineers during the night 25th/26th September 1944 in the evacuation of 1 British Airborne Troops from the bridgehead which they held on the North bank of the River Neder Rijn just West of Arnhem.
The Company moved up from an advanced harbour at Valburg at 1900 hours to an off-launching area at Map Reference Sheet 6NW/W 694764, arriving there at 2050 hours. Our guns opened a barrage at 2100 hours to cover any noise which might arise from the movement of vehicles and unloading of equipment within earshot of German troops across the river or on our flanks. The enemy replied to this fire and our operation was under continuous fire from enemy guns, mortars, machine guns and snipers during the whole of the time we were engaged.
The night was pitch black and it rained heavily, with a driving cold wind. Fires started by bombers in the afternoon and by the shelling at night along with flares fired by the enemy served to allow him to observe our movements during the night.
Sapper LeBouthillier acted as crewman to one coxswain for 14 trips and when a relief was brought in he refused to quit and carried on for an additional 12 trips with a relief coxswain.
Regardless of personal danger, he directed his craft well out to the flanks of the bridgehead calling out for survivors of the Airborne Troops, who could not make their way to organized embarkation beaches, to make themselves known, so that they might be taken off. On every crossing he jumped into the water as the boat was coming ashore to hold it off from crashing onto a rock or any other obstacle which might crush the hull and sink the craft.
He carried on in this fashion for about five hours by which time he was exhausted and had to be ordered back to the Company rest area. In all, the craft in which he operated brought off well over 500 men many of whom could never have been rescued had not Sapper LeBouthillier faced the added hazards involved in directing his boat to those points which were almost within the grasp of the enemy.
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