Walter Leigh Rayfield bigraphy, stories - Recipient of the Victoria Cross

Walter Leigh Rayfield : biography

October 7, 1881 - February 19, 1949

Walter Leigh Rayfield VC (7 October 1881 – 19 February 1949) was a Canadian 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. Rayfield was one of seven Canadian to be awarded the Victoria Cross for his actions on September 2, 1918. The other six Victoria Cross recipients were Claude Joseph Patrick Nunney, William Metcalf, Cyrus Wesley Peck, John Francis Young, Bellenden Hutcheson and Arthur George Knight.

Details

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.

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.

Further information

Rayfield is buried at Prospect Cemetery, Toronto, Ontario, Canada (Soldier's Plot, Section 7, grave 4196).

The medal

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

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