Sgt Major David George Parfitt of Keewatin of First World War Identified

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Ranger Howard Jacob of Webequie First Nation guards the National War Memorial in Ottawa. credit Captain Camilo Olea-Ortega
Ranger Howard Jacob of Webequie First Nation guards the National War Memorial in Ottawa. credit Captain Camilo Olea-Ortega

OTTAWA – KEEWATIN – The identity of a Canadian soldier killed in the First World War has been identified. David George Parfitt of Keewatin died in France during the war.

Company Sergeant-Major David George Parfitt
Company Sergeant-Major David George Parfitt

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.