SAULT STE. MARIE, ON – Over the days leading up to Remembrance Day, Sault Online will be reaching back into our history to share with you some stories, information and insights into this part of our national story.
World War One produced some notable battles and soldiers who stepped up beyond the call of duty. Seventy-three Canadians were given the highest battle honour for service – The Victoria Cross.
One of those awarded was a Sault Ste. Marie resident after coming to Canada from Brentwood, England at the age of 12 with his family. William Merrifield. His story from the Canadian Forces can be seen in its entirety below.
William Merrifield was born in Brentwood, England on 9 October 1890, and later came to Canada.
During the First World War, he enlisted with the Canadian Expeditionary Force and served with the 4th Infantry Battalion.
Merrifield received the Military Medal for his conduct near Passchendaele in Belgium on 6 and 7 November 1917.
On 1 October 1918, the advance of Sergeant Merrifield and his men near Abancourt in France was being blocked by intense fire from two German machine-gun emplacements.
Merrifield resolved to attack both positions alone. Running from shell-hole to shell-hole, he killed the crew of the first machine-gun and, although wounded, continued to the second emplacement, where he used a hand grenade to kill all of the enemy defenders.
Merrifield refused to be evacuated and went on leading his platoon until wounded again, this time severely.
For showing “the highest qualities of valour and leadership” in this action, Sergeant Merrifield was awarded the Victoria Cross.
Merrifield died in Toronto, Ontario on 8 August 1943.
The citation which accompanied the medal reads in part:
“Sgt. Merrifield has served with exceptional distinction on many former occasions, and throughout the action of the 1st October showed the highest qualities of valour and leadership.”
Readers are reminded poppies are available throughout the city and wreaths are available for purchase through the Royal Canadian Legion Branch 25.
Lest We Forget