The first bombing of the Dortmund-Ems Canal, one of Germany's great inland waterways, was announced on July 17, and Flight Lieutenant Learoyd was engaged in these operations. The feat for which he was awarded the V.C. was thus officially described:
This officer, as first pilot of a Hampden aircraft, has repeatedly shown the highest conception of his duty and complete indifference to personal danger in making attacks at the lowest altitudes regardless of opposition. On the night of August 12 he was detailed to attack a special objective on the Dortmund-Ems Canal. He had attacked this objective on a previous occasion, and was well aware of the risks entailed. To achieve success it was necessary to approach from a direction well-known to the enemy, through a lane of specially disposed anti-aircraft defences and in the face of the most intense point-blank fire from guns of all calibres. The reception of the preceding aircraft might well have deterred the stoutest heart, all being hit and two lost. Flight Lieutenant Learoyd, nevertheless, made his attack at 150 ft., his aircraft being repeatedly hit and large pieces of the main planes torn away. He was almost blinded by the glare of searchlights at close range, but pressed home his attack with the greatest resolution and skill. He subsequently brought his wrecked aircraft home and, as the landing flaps were inoperative and the undercarriage indicators out of action, waited for dawn in the vicinity of his aerodrome before landing, which he accomplished without causing injury to his crew or further damage to the aircraft. The high courage and skill which this officer has invariably displayed on many occasions in the face of the enemy set an example which is unsurpassed.