Doreen Winifred Ashburnham-Ruffner GC

Name: Doreen Winifred Ashburnham-Ruffner

Conflict: N/A

Gazetted: December 21, 1917

Service: Civilian

Doreen Winifred Ashburnham-Ruffner GC

Medal group

Place/date of birth: Ashburnham Hall, Sussex/May 13, 1905

Rank when awarded GC (and later highest rank): Civilian

Date of bravery: September 23, 1916

London Gazette citation:

The KING has been pleased to award the Albert Medal to Doreen Ashburnham, aged 11 years, and Anthony Farrer, aged 8 years, residing at Cowichan Lake, Vancouver Island, in recognition of the great bravery displayed by the children in the following circumstances:

On the 23rd September, 1916, the two children left their homes at Cowichan Lake for the purpose of catching their ponies and, when about half a mile from home, they were attacked by a cougar. They were almost upon the animal before they saw it crouching in a path at a corner. The little girl was first attacked; the cougar sprang upon her, and she was knocked down with her face to the ground, the animal being on her back. The boy at once attacked the cougar with his fists and riding bridle, and drove the animal off the girl; it then attacked him, and his companion, getting to her feet, came to his rescue, fighting with her clenched hands and bridle, and even putting her arm into the cougar’s mouth, to try to prevent it from biting Anthony. She succeeded in getting it off the boy, and it stood on its hindquarters and fought with her, but evidently it was disturbed by some sound, for presently it slunk away and ran under a log, where it was afterwards killed. The children, though both badly injured, were able to make their way home.

The cougar measured over 7 feet from nose to tip of tail.

[Doreen Ashburnham-Ruffner exchanged her Albert Medal for the George Cross, following the Royal Warrant issued in December 1971]

Click here to see full Gazette entry.

Other decorations: N/A

Place/date of death: San Luis Obispo, California, USA/October 4, 1991

Grave/memorials: San Luis Obispo, California, USA, ashes buried under English Lavender bush; St Laurence’s churchyard, Rye, Sussex

Origin of VC to the Lord Ashcroft collection: Purchased privately, 2023

Current location of VC: Displayed on rotation at The Lord Ashcroft Gallery: Extraordinary Heroes exhibition, Imperial War Museum