Born in Oak River, Manitoba, Alexander Picton Brereton had spent his life both working Canadian soil and cutting Canadian hair before enlisting in the 8th Battalion, CEF and embarking for England in late 1916. Joining up with the 2nd Brigade, 1st Division, he soon found himself in France, seeing action with the 8th Battalion all the way up until the start of the 100 Days Campaign.
For Brereton, glory was not far behind the opening guns of the offensive. On August 9th, just a day following the opening of the Amiens Campaign, Cpl. Brereton would earn his Victoria Cross for the following act of bravery;
“On 9 August 1918, near Parvillers in France, Corporal Brereton’s platoon suddenly came under fire from six German machine guns while in an exposed position. Brereton immediately charged one of the machine guns on his own, shooting one member of the crew, bayoneting another, and compelling nine other enemy soldiers to surrender. The rest of the platoon, inspired by his example, assaulted and captured the five remaining machine gun positions. For his actions on this day, Corporal Brereton was awarded the Victoria Cross.”
Only 6 weeks removed from his feat, Alexander lay in the Etaples hospital suffering from appendicitis, but recovered in time to be awarded his VC by King George V – alongside fellow Manitoban Frederick George Coppins.
Cpl. Brereton died in Calgary, Alberta on January 10th, 1976, and is buried with a military headstone in Elnora, AB. Though 40 years have passed since he was laid to rest, his memory was honoured with a new headstone on June 18th, 2016 – honouring a man who gave so much for his country and countrymen.