By Noushin Ziafati
A Canadian soldier killed in action during the First World War has been identified – more than a century later.
The Department of National Defense and the Canadian Armed Forces have publicly confirmed the identity of the Company Sergeant Major. David George Parfitt on Thursday.
Parfitt was one of 156 members of the 8th Canadian Infantry Battalion killed in action on September 26, 1916, in 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 at the time of his death.
Defense Minister Anita Anand said Canada remembers the courage of those “who served our nation both at home and abroad during the First World War.”
“The successful identification of Company Sergeant Major Parfitt reminds all Canadians of the ultimate sacrifice made by many in service to our nation,” Anand said in a statement.
“To the family of Company Sergeant Major Parfitt, Canada honors 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 which the Department of National Defense said “contributed significantly” to the identification of his grave.
Parfitt was born in London, England in 1891 and immigrated to Canada when he was 18 years old.
He was a factory worker in Keewatin, Ontario, before enlisting in the army in Valcartier, Quebec. 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 expected to be held “at the earliest opportunity” at the Commonwealth War Graves Commission’s Regina Trench Cemetery in France, the military said.
Veterans Affairs Minister Lawrence MacAulay also recognized Parfitt’s contributions to Canada.
“Company Sergeant Major Parfitt was one of us – a Canadian soldier who fought with honor for our country in the First World War. His name is engraved on the base of Canada’s National Vimy Memorial along with those of more than 11,000 of his comrades who have been reported as ‘missing presumed dead’ in France,” MacAulay said.
“Now that his grave has been identified, I am happy to know that he will receive a permanent headstone to commemorate his courage, service and ultimate sacrifice.”
This report from The Canadian Press was first published on July 28, 2022.