Canadian Soldier of the First World War Identified Years After Death in France

By The Canadian Press
The Canadian Press
The Canadian Press
July 28, 2022 Updated: July 28, 2022

A Canadian soldier killed in battle during the First World War has been identified – more than a century later.

The Department of National Defence and the Canadian Armed Forces publicly confirmed the identity of Company Sgt.-Maj. David George Parfitt on Thursday.

Parfitt was one of 156 members of the 8th Canadian Infantry Battalion killed in action on Sept. 26, 1916, during the Battle of Thiepval Ridge. He was leading a platoon in the attack that day.

Parfitt’s headstone, which is in Regina Trench Cemetery in Grandcourt, France, identified him only as an unknown sergeant-major of the infantry battalion. He was 25 years old at the time of his death.

Defence Minister Anita Anand said Canada remembers the courage of those “who served our nation both at home and overseas in the First World War.”

“The successful identification of Company Sergeant-Major Parfitt is a reminder for all Canadians of the ultimate sacrifice made by many in service to our nation,” Anand said in a news release.

“To the family of Company Sergeant-Major Parfitt, know that Canada honours him and is grateful for his service.”

Parfitt was the only Canadian company sergeant-major to have died on that date in France, a detail that the Department of National Defence said “significantly contributed” to the identification of his grave.

Parfitt was born in London, England, in 1891 and immigrated to Canada at the age of 18.

He was a mill worker in Keewatin, Ont., before enlisting in the army in Valcartier, Que. Three of his brothers also enlisted and survived the war.

The Canadian Armed Forces said Parfitt’s family has been notified of his identification.

A headstone rededication ceremony is set to take place “at the earliest opportunity” at the Commonwealth War Graves Commission’s Regina Trench Cemetery in France, the military noted.

Veterans Affairs Minister Lawrence MacAulay also recognized Parfitt’s contributions to Canada.

“Company Sergeant-Major Parfitt was one of our own – a Canadian soldier who fought for our country with honour during the First World War. His name is engraved on the base of the Canadian National Vimy Memorial along with those of the more than 11,000 of his comrades who were posted as ‘missing, presumed dead’ in France,” MacAulay said.

“Now that his grave has been identified, I’m pleased to know he will receive a permanent headstone to commemorate his courage, service and ultimate sacrifice.”

By Noushin Ziafati