Frederick Fisher (VC)
Frederick Fisher VC (3 August 1894 – 23 April 1915), was a Canadian recipient of the Victoria Cross, the highest and most prestigious award for gallantry in the face of the enemy that can be awarded to British and Commonwealth forces. He was the first Canadian-born man to win the VC while serving in the Canadian Army. A native of St. Catharines, Ontario, he had gone to McGill University in Montreal to study engineering in 1913. That year, he also joined the Alpha Psi Chapter of the Zeta Psi Fraternity.
|Born||3 August 1894
St. Catharines, Ontario
|Died||23 April 1915 (aged 20)
St Julien, Belgium
|Service/branch||Canadian Expeditionary Force|
|Years of service||1914–1915|
|Unit||13th Battalion, CEF|
|Battles/wars||First World War †|
He was 20 years old, and a lance-corporal in the 13th (Royal Highlanders of Canada) Battalion, Canadian Expeditionary Force during the First World War when the following deed took place for which he was awarded the VC.
To open the Second Battle of Ypres, on 22 April 1915 near St Julien, Belgium, the Germans unleashed the world's first effective poison gas attack. Caught by surprise, the French division to the left of the 1st Canadian Division was routed, with heavy casualties. After a short pause to wait for the gas to clear, the Germans launched an attack into the gap, while the British and Canadians desperately tried to establish a new defence line. Thousands of German troops were moving in the open towards the hasty defence created by elements of the 14th Battalion CEF around St. Julien. As the improvised defence crumbled, the enemy were only 200 yards away and threatening to overrun a Canadian artillery battery. Fisher and six other men went forward with a machine gun and, under heavy fire, covered the retreat of the battery, losing four men in the process. This action allowed for the 18 pounders to be hauled out of danger.
Later, when Lance Corporal Fisher had obtained four more men from the 14th Battalion, he went forward again into St Julien to fire on the swarming Germans. In the ensuing firefight, only Fisher survived; the remainder were killed or wounded.
Meanwhile, the 13th Battalion (which was on the extreme left of the Canadian Division) was under heavy fire from three sides and suffering heavy casualties. Fisher set up his gun at another position to attack the oncoming Germans and was subsequently killed on 23 April while yet again bringing his machine gun into action under very heavy fire.
Like many of the other Canadian soldiers who fell in the first three days of the Second Battle of Ypres, Fisher's body was never recovered. His name can be found on the Menin Gate; the memorial in Ypres for 56,000 troops from Britain, Australia, Canada and India whose final resting place in the Ypres salient is unknown. His VC is held by the Canadian Black Watch Museum in Montreal.
- Monuments to Courage (David Harvey, 1999)
- The Register of the Victoria Cross (This England, 1997)
- VCs of the First World War - The Western Front 1915 (Peter F. Batchelor & Christopher Matson, 1999)
- "On the Battlefields", From the archives of "Maclean's Magazine", Edited by Michael Benedict, Penguin Canada, 2002 ISBN 0-14-301341-6, page 95