William Merrifield

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William Merrifield
Born 9 October 1890
Brentwood, Essex, England
Died 8 August 1943
Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Buried West Korah Cemetery, Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, Canada
Allegiance  Canada
Service/branch Canadian Expeditionary Force
Years of service 1914 - 1919
Rank Sergeant
Unit 4th (Central Ontario) Battalion, CEF
2nd Battalion (Eastern Ontario Regiment), CEF
Battles/wars First World War
Awards Victoria Cross
Military Medal

William Merrifield VC, MM (9 October 1890[1] – 8 August 1943) was a Canadian soldier. Merrifield was a recipient of the Victoria Cross, the highest and most prestigious award for gallantry in the face of the enemy that can be awarded to British and Commonwealth forces.


Merrifield was a native of Brentwood, Essex, England,[1] who had emigrated to Canada for employment. He enlisted in the 2nd Battalion Canadian Expeditionary Force (CEF) on 23 September 1914[1] and in 1917, at 27 years of age, was transferred to 4th (Central Ontario) Battalion, CEF, as a replacement. He went on to win the Military Medal (MM) for his conduct during the battle of Passchendaele in November of that year.

On 1 October 1918 at the battle of the Canal du Nord in France, only a month before the armistice, Sergeant Merrifield was trapped with his comrades under the fire of two German machine-gun posts. Merrifield gathered up bombs (grenades) and single-handedly attacked and destroyed the two machine guns. Dashing from shell-hole to shell-hole, he killed the occupants of the first post and, although wounded, continued to attack the second post and with a bomb killed the occupants. He refused to be evacuated and led his platoon until he was again severely wounded. He was awarded the Victoria Cross for his heroic actions.[2]

The 4th (Central Ontario) Battalion of the Canadian Expeditionary Force is perpetuated today by 56th Field Artillery Regiment, Royal Canadian Artillery, and The Royal Hamilton Light Infantry, which contributed the majority of the soldiers to the unit.

After being discharged in April 1919, William Merrifield moved to Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario where a school is named after him in recognition of his service to his country.

Grave of Canadian Victoria Cross recipient William Merrifield in Sault St. Marie, Ontario (Canada)

William Merrifield died in Toronto, Ontario on 8 August 1943, and is buried in West Korah Cemetery, Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario.[3]


The Merrifield VC and accompanying medals were donated to the Canadian War Museum by the Merrifield family in November 2005. The Sgt Merrifield VC medal set consists of the Victoria Cross, the Military Medal, the 1914-15 Star, the British War Medal 1914-1920, the Victory Medal 1914-1919, and the King George VI coronation medal,1937.[4] There is a small display at the William Merrifield VC Armouries in Brantford, Ontario, Canada featuring a reproduction medal.


  1. ^ a b c Attestation papers, CEF http://data2.archives.ca/cef/gpc010/490315a.gif
  2. ^ "No. 31108". The London Gazette (Supplement). 4 January 1919. p. 308.
  3. ^ Symbol of Courage, A complete history of the Victoria Cross. Max Arthur ISBN 0-283-07351-9
  4. ^ Comunique, Canadian War Museum, 21 November 2005. http://www.warmuseum.ca/cwm/media/press-releases/year-2005/william-merrifields-victoria-cross-donated-to-the-canadian-war-museum

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