A Great War Somme September 1916 Battle of Thiepval Ridge Military Medal and British War Medal pair awarded to Sergeant and Acting Company Sergeant Major D.C. Rolland, 19th Canadian Infantry Battalion – Central Ontario, late 48th Highlanders of Canada and 5th Scottish Rifles, who between 26th to 28th September when his company occupied three posts he repeatedly visited at great personal risk and by his example encouraged his men in most trying circumstances, being subsequently commissioned.

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Description:

A Great War Somme September 1916 Battle of Thiepval Ridge Military Medal and British War Medal pair awarded to Sergeant and Acting Company Sergeant Major D.C. Rolland, 19th Canadian Infantry Battalion – Central Ontario, late 48th Highlanders of Canada and 5th Scottish Rifles, who between 26th to 28th September when his company occupied three posts he repeatedly visited at great personal risk and by his example encouraged his men in most trying circumstances, being subsequently commissioned.

Military Medal, GVR bust; (55326 SJT: D.C. ROLLAND. 19/CAN: INF: BN:); British War Medal; (LIEUT. D.C. ROLLAND.)

Condition: light pitting to both from contact with the 1914-1915 Star, overall Very Fine.

David Campbell Rolland was born on 15th April 1885 in Glasgow, Scotland, and having seen service for a number of years with the British Army Volunteer Force and Territorial Force when serving in the 5th Battalion, Scottish Rifles – Cameronians, he then emigrated at Canada, where he settled in Toronto, Ontario, and worked as a book keeper, joining the Canadian Militia as a member of the 48th Highlanders of Canada.

With the outbreak of the Great War, Rolland attested for service with the Canadian Overseas Expeditionary Force at Toronto on 10th November 1914, and joined as a Private (No.55326) the 19th Canadian Infantry Battalion – Central Ontario. As such Rolland would form part of the 2nd Canadian Contingent when it was sent overseas.

The battalion was originally raised at Exhibition Park in Toronto, Ontario, Canada on 6th November 1914. As part of the 4th Infantry Brigade, 2nd Canadian Division, the 19th went from its station in Toronto to West Sandling Camp, Shorncliffe, England, 23rd May 1915 and then to France on 14th September 1915 where it served from 1915 to 1919.

As such Rolland who had been promoted to Sergeant and was serving as an acting Company Sergeant Major, was involved in the Battle of the Somme, and specifically during the Battle of Thiepval Ridge which lasted from 26th to 28th September 1916.

The 19th moved out at 6:45 p.m. on the 25th September 1916, following the 20th, 18th, and 21st Canadian battalions on the Albert-Bapaume road toward Courcelette. They were instructed to be at the ready for any movement as they staged themselves at the road with G.F. Morrison commanding. On the 26th, the 19th was instructed to move to Sausage Valley and be ready, and they arrived on the 27th. On the 28th, the 19th was instructed to push forward towards Le Sars where the enemy line was. On the 29th, heavy artillery fire rained down on their position, resulting in heavy casualties. Reports came in that the British had taken the Destremont farm southwest of Le Sars while snipers fired on their position. With a fair amount of shelling coming from Pys, orders came from Rennie to push forward. In his diary of the action at Thiepval, Private John Mould of the 19th expressed the intensity of the advance:

‘Unmerciful shells were sent over in dozens and within a very short time the ground all around us looked to all appearance like a newly ploughed field. How we escaped without being cut up is one of the things I am not able to explain. I had a very close call myself during this bombardment, a shell bursting within 2 yards of where I was digging. I never knew a thing for a few minutes, the force of the explosion sending me quite silly. It was an awful experience and one which I hoped would not happen again. After about 5 hours of this terrible anxiety, things became much quieter so we were able to proceed with our work of digging more quicker than before. Keeping hard at it during the night, we had by the morning completed 3 lines of trenches and also consolidated them good enough to protect the Battalion from machine gun fire and shrapnel’.

On 15th October 1916, Major General R.E.W. Turner, V.C., K.C.B., K.C.M.G., D.S.O., commander of the 2nd Canadian Division, decorated the men who were honoured for their recent service in battle, and amongst those men was acting Company Sergeant Major Rolland.

The citation for his award of the Military Medal reads as follows: ‘For conspicuous bravery and devotion to duty while acting Company Sergeant Major his company occupied three posts which he repeatedly visited at great personal risk and by his example encouraged his men in most trying circumstances.’

Rolland’s award of the Military Medal for bravery in the field was published in the London Gazette on 21st December 1916. Rolland was subsequently commissioned as a Lieutenant into the 19th Battalion.


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