GOURLEY, Cyril Edward  [1893-1982]

Cyril Edward Gourley was born on 19 January 1893 at 6 South Drive, Victoria Park, Wavertree, the son of Galbraith Gourley and his wife Martha. Galbraith was an Ulsterman who had made a success with his brother as proprietors of grocery shops in the Smithdown Road area. In about 1900 the family moved to the Wirral and Cyril and his brother were educated at Calday Grange Grammar School. After leaving school he attended Liverpool University and then worked for the Holt Shipping Line but, having already joined the Territorial Force, on the outbreak of the First World War he was mobilized and soon found himself serving in France. He fought at the Somme and Ypres and on 30 November 1917 at Little Priel Farm, east of Epehy, during the Battle of Cambrai, he was awarded the Victoria Cross. His citation read:

Sergeant Gourley was in command of a section of howitzers. During an enemy advance, when their forces were within a few hundred yards of him, both to the front and on one flank, and though plagued by snipers, Sergeant Gourley managed to keep one gun firing. At one point he pulled the gun out of the pit and engaged a machine-gun at 500 yards, knocking it out with a direct hit. All day he held the Germans in check, firing over open sights on enemy parties, thereby saving his guns, which were withdrawn at nightfall. He had been previously awarded the Military Medal in September 1917 for conspicuous gallantry in putting out a fire near an ammunition dump.

After the war he went to work for Lever Brothers. In 1952 he moved to Haslemere, Surrey with his mother and two sisters. He died on 31 January 1982 and was buried in the family plot at Grange Cemetery. Gourley's Lane, near to Calday Grange School was named after him and in 1919 the Cyril Edward Gourlay VC Scholarship was established for students from the West Kirkby and Hoylake area to attend Liverpool University.

6 South Drive, Victoria Park, L16


The fullest account of his life and war service is to be found in James Murphy's excellent work Liverpool VCs  [Pen & Sword 2008]