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Walter Rayfield

During the 2nd Battle of Arras, Walter Rayfield performed numerous acts of bravery, earning him a Victoria Cross.

Richmond, England

First World War
Walter Rayfield


Walter Leigh Rayfield was born in Richmond, England in 1880. He spent years in foster homes in Britain before being sent to Canada at the age of ten. He then worked on farms in Ontario before living in a variety of other places as a young man.

During the First World War, Rayfield enlisted in the Canadian Expeditionary Force in July 1917. Private Rayfield would serve with the 7th Battalion on the Western Front and saw heavy action in the closing year of the war. He earned the Victoria Cross for his brave actions 2-4 September 1918 in northern France during the 2nd Battle of Arras. His medal citation reads:

"Ahead of his company, he rushed a trench occupied by a large party of the enemy, personally bayoneting two and taking ten prisoners.

Later, he located and engaged with great skill, under constant rifle fire, an enemy sniper who was causing many casualties. He then rushed the section of trench from which the sniper had been operating, and so demoralised the enemy by his coolness and daring that thirty others surrendered to him.

Again, regardless of his personal safety, he left cover under heavy machine-gun fire and carried in a badly wounded comrade.

His indomitable courage, cool foresight, and daring reconnaissance were invaluable to his Company Commander and an inspiration to all ranks."

(London Gazette, no.31067, 14 December 1918)

Private Rayfield would survive the war and received his Victoria Cross from George V at Buckingham Palace in March 1919. He was also made a member of the Royal Order of the Crown of Belgium. In 1935 Rayfield was named the Sergeant-at-Arms of the Legislative Assembly of Ontario. He died in Toronto in 1949.

Where they participated

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