Ellis Wellwood Sifton VC

b. 12/10/1891 Wallacetown, Ontario, Canada. d. 09/04/1917 Neuville-Saint-Vaast, France.

Ellis Wellwood Sifton (1891-1917) was born on 12th October 1891 at Wallacetown, Ontario, Canada. His father, John James Sifton, was a farmer with Irish heritage. He married Amelia nee Bobier and had three children including Ellis. The other two children were daugthers, Ella and Lila Amelia.

Ellis W Sifton VC

Little is known of his early life other than that he became a farmer and was a member of the Wallacetown Rifle Association for five years prior to enlistment. He enlisted at St Thomas’s, Ontario on 23rd October 1914. During basic training he was allocated to 18th Battalion, Canadian Expeditionary Force and was promoted to Lance Corporal. He sailed from Halifax, Nova Scotia on 21st April 1915 on SS Grampian, arriving at Bristol on 29th April. Further training continued at Shorncliffe Camp, Kent and he was promoted to Corporal on 10th September. He sailed to France from Folkestone on 14th September, and Ellis became a transport driver with 2nd Divisional Train from 1st February 1917, but was keen to rejoin his unit. He was promoted to Lance Sergeant on 14th March 1917.

On 9th April 1917 at Neuville-St.-Vaast, France, during an attack on enemy trenches, Lance-Sergeant Sifton’s company was held up by machine-gun fire. During an attack on Vimy Ridge, “C” Company of the 18th Battalion was held up during its advance by German machine gunners who had survived the artillery barrage by taking refuge in concrete shelters. As the Canadians moved forward, the enemy’s machine guns swept the battlefield, causing heavy casualties. Sifton saw the enemy’s machine gun nest first. He jumped up, rushed forward and leapt into the trench. He then charged into the enemy gun crew and knocked the gun over before turning on the gunners with his bayonet, killing each man. More Canadians hurried forward, but not before a small German party moved down the trench towards Sifton. He used his bayonet and his rifle as a club to fight them off until help arrived. Despite these efforts, Sifton was killed during the fighting.

Ellis was buried in Lichfield Crater Cemetery, Thelus which was later destroyed by a mine explosion. Sadly, Ellis’ body was not recovered and he is commemorated on Panel 3. As he never married, his VC was presented to his father by the Duke of Devonshire, Governor General of Canada at the Canadian National Exhibition in Toronto on 1st September 1917.

In addition to his VC, he was awarded the 1914-15 Star, British War Medal 1914-20, and Victory Medal 1914-19. His next of kin was eligible to receive the Canadian Memorial Cross. His VC was donated to the St Thomas YMCA following the death of his last surviving sister. It was later donated to the Elgin County Pioneer Museum at St Thomas, Ontario, but his other three medals were reported lost. On 4th October 1974 replacements were issued to the Museum after pre payment.






Kevin Brazier – Image of the Sifton VC name on the Lichfield Crater Cemetery Wall.