The Times, Monday, 17th July 2000

It has been reported from Canada that Lieutenant Colonel Charles Merritt VC, who commanded the South Sasketchewan Regiment, Canadian Infantry Corps, has died, aged 91, in Vancouver. The date of his death was the 12th July 2000.

For the award of the Victoria Cross

[ London Gazette, 2 October 1942 ], Dieppe Raid, France, 19 August 1942, Lieutenant Colonel Charles Cecil Merritt, Commanding South Saskatchewan Regiment, Canadian Infantry Corps.

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 Pouville which was swept by very heavy machine-gun, motar 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 pillboxes 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 runner 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.

Charles Merritt was invested with his Victoria Cross by King George VI at Buckingham Palace on the 22nd June 1945.

Two further Victoria Crosses were awarded following the Dieppe Raid, one to Major, The Rev John Foote, Canadian Chaplains' Service ( attached Royal Hamilton Light Infantry ), and the other to Colonel Patrick Porteous, Royal Regiment of Artillery.

( select to enlarge )
Medal entitlement of Lieutenant Colonel Charles Merritt,
South Saskatchewan Regiment

  • Victoria Cross
  • 1939-45 Star
  • Defence Medal ( 1939-45 )
  • Canadian Volunteer Service Medal ( 1939-45 )
    • 2 clasps:
    • "Maple Leaf" - "Dieppe"
  • War Medal ( 1939-45 )
  • Queen Elizabeth II Coronation Medal ( 1953 )
  • Canadian Centennial Medal ( 1967 )
  • Queen Elizabeth II Silver Jubilee Medal ( 1977 )
  • 125th Anniversary of the Confederation of Canada Medal ( 1992 )
  • Efficiency Decoration ( ED )
    • "Canada" clasp

VC Deaths

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Iain Stewart, 17 July 2000