Canadian soldier of the First World War identified


**** DND Media Release

Canadian soldier of the First World War identified

The Department of National Defence and the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) have confirmed the identity of a previously unknown soldier as Company Sergeant-Major David George Parfitt, a Canadian soldier of the First World War. His headstone, in Regina Trench Cemetery, Grandcourt, France, identified him only as an unknown sergeant-major of the 8th Canadian Infantry Battalion.

David George 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 Valcartier, Que. Three of his brothers also enlisted: William (Royal Canadian Navy), Arthur (Canadian Expeditionary Force) and Frederick (British Army): all three survived the war.

Having been a member of the Non-Permanent Active Militia for four years, David Parfitt was promoted to the rank of sergeant upon enlisting. The 8th Canadian Infantry Battalion, with Sergeant Parfitt in its ranks, arrived in France in February 1915. In September 1915, he was promoted to the rank of company sergeant-major. Company Sergeant-Major Parfitt, 25, was one of 156 members of the 8th Canadian Infantry Battalion (90th Rifles), Canadian Expeditionary Force, killed in action on September 26, 1916, during the Battle of Thiepval Ridge. He is the only Canadian company sergeant-major to have died on that date in France, a detail that significantly contributed to the identification of his grave.

The CAF has notified the family of Company Sergeant-Major Parfitt of his identification, and is providing them with ongoing support. A headstone rededication ceremony will take place at the earliest opportunity at the Commonwealth War Graves Commission’s Regina Trench Cemetery, in France.

Quick Facts

  • ​ ​ ​ ​ ​ ​David George Parfitt was born on July 4, 1891, in London, England. He was the son of Frederick and Elizabeth Parfitt (née Woodhouse).

  • ​ ​ ​ ​ ​ ​He was killed in action during the Battle of Thiepval Ridge, one of the Battles of the Somme. On September 26, 1916, one of the objectives of the 1st Canadian Division (which included the 8th Infantry Battalion within the 2nd Infantry Brigade) was to take and occupy a series of trenches located between Thiepval and Courcelette, France. Company Sergeant-Major Parfitt lost his life leading a platoon from D Company of the 8thInfantry Battalion in the attack that day.

  • ​ ​ ​ ​ ​ ​Company Sergeant-Major Parfittis commemorated on theCanadian National Vimy Memorial, erected in memory of Canadian soldiers killed in France during the First World War who have no known grave.

  • ​ ​ ​ ​ ​ ​In May 2019, the Directorate of History and Heritage received a report from the Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC) detailing the potential identification ofGrave 16, Row G, Plot 7 in the Regina Trench Cemetery, in Grandcourt, France.Independent researchers raised the possibility with the CWGC that this grave belonged to Company Sergeant-Major Parfitt.

  • ​ ​ ​ ​ ​ ​Following extensive archival research by the CWGC and the Directorate of History and Heritage to corroborate the findings of the independent researcher, the identification was confirmed in November 2019 by the Casualty Identification Review Board, which includes representatives from the Canadian Forces Forensic Odontology Response Team and the Canadian Museum of History.

  • ​ ​ ​ ​ ​ ​The Canadian Armed Forces Casualty Identification Program, within the Directorate of History and Heritage, identifies unknown Canadian service members when their remains are recovered. The program also identifies service members previously buried as unknown soldiers when there is sufficient evidence to confirm the identification.

  • ​ ​ ​ ​ ​ ​The CWGC commemorates the 1.7 million Commonwealth servicemen and women who died during the two world wars. Using an extensive archive, the Commission works with their partners to recover, investigate, and identify those with no known grave to give them the dignity of burial and the commemoration they deserve.



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