Language selection


Crossing The River - Worthy of a Victoria Cross

Heroes Remember

Crossing The River - Worthy of a Victoria Cross

The troops were unable to cross the bridge, and of course it was necessary to, that we cross the bridge if we were to succeed at all. So, I recognized I better do something about it. And I, I called out to them to come on, come on over, you see, and led the chaps across the bridge and they came perfectly willingly. And we pressed on a bit and then we had another little fight with another party of Germans about twenty yards past the bridge and eventually we cleared them out from the particular area and I was able to go back to the bigger plan. Interviewer: In fact, Colonel Merritt, the bridge was some two hundred yards long, open, without railings on either side, and it was being swept at the time by German mortar, machine guns and artillery fire. I think that’s so. It sounds pretty bad. I survived, so it couldn’t have been that bad. Interviewer: On the other side of the bridge some of those fortified positions that were holding the bridge in part were the ones that you just alluded to, that you and the party that got across silenced. Yes, that's, that's a fair summary. Interviewer: And this as well was under fire. Yes.

In order to advance to their objective, it was necessary for Colonel Merritt to lead his men across a river bridge near their destination. However, the bridge was under fire from German forces who were dug in on the opposite river bank. Colonel Merritt would later receive the Victoria Cross from King George VI for his work here.

Charles Cecil Ingersol Merritt

Colonel Merritt’s father was killed in Ypres during the First World War. 7 or 8 of his uncles from both sides of the family also served during the First World War - three of whom were killed in action. He received his early education in Vancouver and Victoria and then went on to Royal Military College in Kingston, Ontario. He articled with a Vancouver lawyer for three years before being called to the bar there in 1929. During this time, he joined the Seaforth Highlanders of Canada militia unit - the unit with whom he enlisted with when the Second World War was declared. Eventually, in late 1941, he was appointed Commanding Officer of the South Saskatchewan Regiment, and served with the Regiment until the war was over. During his service he earned the Victoria Cross for his gallant efforts on Aug. 19, 1942 in the Dieppe Raid. Mr. Merritt was taken prisoner during the Dieppe Raid. Following the war Mr. Merritt returned to his law practice in Vancouver and served in the Canadian Federal Parliament from 1945 - 1949. He continued to live in Vancouver until his death on July 12, 2000.

Meta Data
Veterans Affairs Canada
Person Interviewed:
Charles Cecil Ingersol Merritt
War, Conflict or Mission:
Second World War
South Saskatchewan Regiment
Company Commander

Copyright / Permission to Reproduce

Related Videos

Date modified: