Four Victoria Crosses awarded during the Battle of Vimy (1st part)

The Victoria Cross is the highest British military distinction. It is awarded for a remarkable act of bravery, for an act of daring or extraordinary valour or self-sacrifice, or for an act of extreme devotion to duty in the presence of the enemy.The medal bears the mention « for Valour » on a semi-circular scroll, surmounted by a lion statant gardant on the British crown, symbol of royalty. It has the shape of a 35mm wide “croix pattée” made of bronze, suspended  by a ring from a seriffed V, attached to a bar decorated with laurel leaves and carrying a purple ribbon. During the First World War, 75 Canadians were decorated. The Victoria Cross is engraved on the gravestones of the recipients whose bodies lie in the Commonwealth military cemeteries ; in other cases, only the letters VC are engraved on the memorials  after the name of the recipient.

Four members of the Canadian Expeditionary Force have earned the Victoria Cross during the Battle of Vimy, here’s the first article depicting their story ..

Lance-Sergeant Ellis Wellwood Sifton

Ellis Wellwood Sifton was born in Wallacetown, Ontario, on October 12th, 1891. He enlisted in October 1914 and served first as a car driver in his battalion. Shortly before the battle, he asked to be released from his job in order to « try his luck with the guys in the front line ». The day when he accomplished the feat of arms that would earn him the Victoria Cross, within the 18th infantry battalion of the CEF, his company was facing enormous difficulties in the presence of enemy machine gun nests. Lance-Sergeant Sifton jumped through the barbed wire thanks to a breach, started running in the open, charged the machine guns with grenades and attacked the crew with his bayonet. He cleared the nest, then, with the help of his comrades who followed him, contributed to containing a counter-attack, his men and himself using their bayonets and the butts of their rifles. However, just as help arrived, he was fatally shot by a wounded German. His VC is on display in Elgin County Museum in St-Thomas, Ontario.

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Lichfield Crater Cemetery

His remains are found among the 57 soldiers buried in the crater of Lichfield Crater Cemetery. His name is engraved on the surrounding wall of the terrace on which the Cross of Sacrifice is erected. This cemetery is located at the edge of A26 highway, behind the village of Neuville -St-Vaast.

Translated by Jacques Paltani