Diving right in, In the United States we have the Audie Murphy's and the Sgt York's, in Canada we have the Freddie Tilston's.
The enemy might have had better luck if they had to face Freddie Kreuger. You may remember him as the 1980's movie character who was a horribly disfigured serial killer. The enemy might have done better had they had to battle Kreuger rather then Tilston. On the other hand the Allies and more particularly Canadians have to be so proud of the fact that Tilston WAS in the wrong place at the wrong time, as he would later claim.
Frederick Albert Tilston was born in June of 1906 at Toronto Ontario. His earliest education would come for attendance at the all boy's military prep school called De La Salle. He no doubt did as most did by also participating in its army cadet program. De Le Salle had an excellent record of preparing its student to go on to higher education at the university level. And like most grads Fred did this, not once, but twice over. First at the University of Toronto. Then at the Ontario College of Pharmacy.
In 1930 Fred found work in the sales department of the Sterling Drug company at Toronto and within a decade he would be promoted to sales manager and working out of their head office at Windsor Ontario.
This upward slopping track of pebbled beach was heavily protected by German artillery, MG's, mortars and many tank obstacles that prevented most from getting even beyond the beach and advancing on the town. After a 9 hr battle and over 120 dead on the beach, the Essex Scottish and others had to abandon the attack. While about 5,000 Canadians landed in the early morning, over 900 Canadians would give their lives before the day was out. Over 50 of these brave men were commissioned officers. (I say 5,000 Canadians but it is known that many Americans were then serving in Canadian uniforms) (At least 2 other units... the Toronto Scottish and the Calgary Regiment, also fought at this landing though not shown in above sketch)
Lt Col Cecil Merritt of BC landed on Green beach and he and fellow Canadian John Foote were the first Canadian officers of WW11 to be later awarded the Victoria Cross in that war. Foote was an Honorary Captain and a chaplain. Merritt was a distant relative on mine.
At some point after Dieppe Tilston was badly injured during a battlefield training exercise. A shaft of metal was driven into his back and stopped just short of his heart. Destiny was still waiting for this hero and so he recovered and continued with war service. Having advanced through North Western Europe he would again be injured in Normandy when his jeep drove over a mine in August of 1944. He'd get a concussion, have both eardrums damaged and even got a splinter in his eye, but after a few months of recover he was yet again back at the front.
Tilston, now an acting major and company commander was in advance of his company with two platoons following and 1 in reserve as they moved towards the Gap. There were probably in the area around the end of the tip of the left arrow above... and moving into wide open ground of some 500 feet till the start of the gap. They had hopes to have tanks backing them up but the ground was too soft the tanks could not advance on. Soon he came under artillery and machine gun fire from two different directions to his front. Since he was well in advance of his platoons, Tilston ran head on into the enemy MG pit, destroyed it and even captured a prisoner. He was first in the battle to advance so far forward. After securing the prisoner he rejoined his men and had to regroup them as there were gaps forming due to the number of casualties being taken.
By then he was realizing that a bred gun carrier, which carried their supply of ammo had moved to the rear carrying many of the badly wounded. But the front line troops now needed ammunition as they were running out. As this was going on another MG position was causing them real grief and so he attacked this one as well and put it out of action as the platoons advanced forward. But then they were starting to get fired on from their rear. Some Germans had apparently abandoned original positions and taken up new ones in hided bunkers. But in their relocating they left some grenades lying about. Grenades that the Scottish picked up and used on them... to good effect.
Now keep in mind this guy just got a hip wound. He'd already had a head wound, had his hearing almost destroyed, had a splinter in this eye and a concussion and a chunk of medal driven almost into his heart ... and yet he kept going like that ever-ready battery we keep seeing advertising for.
His platoon fought and overran 2 different sets of enemy headquarters in these trenches. But his men were in serious trouble. They had almost completely run out of ammunition. So he did what only he could do, with a zillion wounds. he headed off towards another company that took less hits and over ground that they had support from tanks, and thus, used less ammunition. He found his way to them and got over 200 rounds and two boxes of grenades.
While running back to his men he was still under heavy fire, as he was on the way out. He arrived in time to distribute the ammo when the enemy launched an advance against the men but were driven back. This went on all afternoon. He would make at least seven trips back and forth carrying more and more ammo for his men. And with some incredible odds against him. He survived all of this while NOT EVEN GETTING DOWN in the trenches with the men at either end... but standing or crouching as did the exchanges. One officer would later say that the look of calmness on Tilston's face left the message that his fellow officer thought they were simply at yet another board meeting instead of in the midst of a battlefield.
But this hero's luck finally ran out on him when, enroute back with yet more ammo a mortar round blew up beside him and took off his leg below the knee. His other leg was badly mangled also. Tilston still managed to drag himself out of the line of fire, and inject himself with morphine before passing out. When he had come to. his men had by then dragged him off to a field dressing station and did what they could for him. His first concern was to appoint another as commander of his company of men and issued orders for the officer to continue moving forward.
Tilston returned to Canada an international war hero and was given a ticker parade down Young Street that can be seen to this day on You Tube. He would marry and raise a family and return to a most successful career in the pharmacy business, would rise in the ranks to become not only president but a Board director of one such firm and many an accolade would come to him over the years for his work in industry and efforts to help those in need, especially those with disability issues.
A legion would be named in his honor, as would a cadet corps, school awards would be issued in his name, and he would also be appointed as the Honorary Colonel of his old regiment...the Essex Scottish, which a few years later became as it is today... the Essex and Kent Scottish.
When someone once asked him why he earned the VC he responded with... "I was at the wrong place at the wrong time." I doubt his comrades would have agreed with him.
Colonel Tilston passed away in 1992 and lies at rest in a Toronto cemetery. His VC presentation took place, as noted above, on 22 June 1945, and that was 68 years ago Saturday past.