Walter Leigh Rayfield

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Walter Leigh Rayfield
Walter Rayfield's grave marker
Born (1881-10-07)7 October 1881
Richmond, London, England
Died 19 February 1949(1949-02-19) (aged 67)
Toronto, Canada
Buried at Prospect Cemetery, Toronto
Allegiance  Canada
Service/branch Canadian Expeditionary Force
Rank Captain
Unit 7th Battalion (1st British Columbia), CEF
Battles/wars First World War
Awards Victoria Cross
Order of the Crown (Belgium)
Other work Prison Governor

Walter Leigh Rayfield VC (7 October 1881 – 19 February 1949) was a Canadian recipient of the Victoria Cross, the highest award for gallantry in the face of the enemy that can be awarded to British and Commonwealth forces. Rayfield was one of the seven Canadians to be awarded the Victoria Cross for their actions on one single day, 2 September 1918, for actions across the 30 km long Drocourt-Quéant Line near Arras, France. The other six were Bellenden Hutcheson, Arthur George Knight, William Henry Metcalf, Claude Joseph Patrick Nunney, Cyrus Wesley Peck and John Francis Young.


Rayfield was 36 years old, and a private in the 7th (1st British Columbia) Battalion, Canadian Expeditionary Force during the First World War when the following deed took place for which he was awarded the VC.

From 2–4 September 1918 during the operations east of Arras, France, Private Rayfield, ahead of his company, rushed a trench occupied by a large party of the enemy, bayoneting two and taking 10 prisoners. Later, after engaging with great skill an enemy sniper, he rushed the section of the trench from which the sniper had been operating and so demoralised the enemy that 30 others surrendered to him. Subsequently, regardless of personal safety, he left cover under heavy machine-gun fire and carried in a badly wounded comrade.[1]

Rayfield was the Progressive Party of Canada "Soldier candidate" in the federal election of 1921 for Toronto East. Liberal nominee Mrs. Philip G. Kiely (Elizabeth Bethune Kiely) stood aside for Rayfield, so that her votes could go to him, but the Conservative candidate won. He was Sergeant-at-Arms of the Legislative Assembly of Ontario and governor of Toronto Jail.

He died in 1949, and is buried at Prospect Cemetery, Toronto, Ontario, Canada (Soldier's Plot, Section 7, grave 4196).

The Medal[edit]

His Victoria Cross is displayed at the Canadian War Museum in Ottawa, Canada.


  1. ^ The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 31067. p. 14779. 13 December 1918. Retrieved 7 April 2015.

External links[edit]