27 June 2010

Victoria Cross: C. C. I. Merritt


Lieutenant-Colonel, commanding The South Saskatchewan Regiment, Canadian Infantry Corps

Born: 10 November 1908, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
Died: 12 July 2000, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada

Citation: For matchless gallantry and inspiring leadership whilst commanding his battalion during the Dieppe raid on the 19th August, 1942.
From the point of landing, his unit's advance had to be made across a bridge in Pourville which was swept by heavy machine-gun, mortar and artillery fire; the first parties were mostly destroyed and the bridge thickly covered by their bodies. A daring lead was required; waving his helmet, Lieutenant-Colonel Merritt rushed forward shouting "Come on over! There's nothing to worry about here!"
He thus personally led the survivors of at least four parties in turn across the bridge. Quickly organizing these, he led them forward and when held up by enemy pill-boxes he again headed rushes which succeeded in clearing them. In one case he himself destroyed the occupants of the post by throwing grenades into it. After several of his runners became casualties, he himself kept contact with his different positions.
Although twice wounded Lieutenant-Colonel Merritt continued to direct the unit's operations with great vigour and determination and while organizing the withdrawal he stalked a sniper with a Bren gun and silenced him. He then coolly gave orders for the departure and announced his intention to hold off and "get even with" the enemy. When last seen he was collecting Bren and Tommy guns and preparing a defensive position which successfully covered the withdrawal from the beach.
Lieutenant-Colonel Merritt is now reported to be a Prisoner of War.
To this Commanding Officer's personal daring, the success of his unit's operations and the safe re-embarkation of a large portion of it were chiefly due.

[London Gazette issue 35729 dtd 2 Oct 1942, published 2 Oct 1942.]

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