Hugh Brayfield or "Bray" as he was known to his friends and family, was born on December 15, 1890 in Brandon, Manitoba.
Bray attended school in Winnipeg and after finishing school he commenced his studies to become a lawyer. When news that the First World War had broken out, Bray immediately enlisted with the Winnipeg Rifles.
The 90th Winnipeg Rifles was a storied regiment, famous for their actions during the Riel Rebellion in 1885, which earned them the motto, "Little Black Devils", which was also the inspiration for their cap badge.
First World War
Upon arriving at Valcartier, Quebec, the Winnipeg Rifles were absorbed into the 8th Battalion of the First Canadian Division. They left for England in October 1914 and spent the next several months training at Aldershot before leaving for France in February 1915.
The first major battle of the 8th Battalion as part of the First Division was the 2nd Battle of Ypres in April 1915, when chlorine gas was used for the first time by the Germans.
On May 9, 1915 Bray was commissioned as a Lieutenant. He remained with the 8th Battalion throughout the war. Some of the other major battles he was involved with include Thiepval Ridge in September 1916, Vimy Ridge on April 9, 1917 and The Battle of Amiens in August 1918.
He was awarded the Military Cross on May 3, 1918. The citation for that award stated:
For conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty. Hearing of an enemy raid on his left flank, he immediately went with an N.C.O. (Non-Commissioned Officer) to the spot, and led a counter-attack along a trench into which the enemy had been turned, capturing six prisoners.
He was awarded a second Military Cross for heroism at Amiens in August 1918. That citation stated:
For Conspicuous gallantry and leadership. Soon after jumping off he was wounded, and shortly after knocked unconscious by a shell explosion, and left as dead.
On regaining consciousness he regained his company at their first objective, and gave the officer who had taken over full instructions as to direction and boundaries, which ensured the success of the operation. He set a fine example in spite of the great pain he was in.
Hugh Brayfield was hospitalized for the balance of the war due to his injuries and was discharged from the army on April 26th, 1919 with the rank of Captain.
Bray returned to Winnipeg where he practiced law for a short time and then moved his law practice to Virden, Manitoba. He married Peggy Shaw in 1925 and became the proud father of two daughters, Jackie and Nan.
Bray was very active in the reserve army and commanded the Border Horse, as it was then known, until it was merged into the 12th Manitoba Dragoons. He was the Commanding Officer of the Dragoons from 1935 until the start of Second World War.
The 12th Manitoba Dragoons was a cavalry regiment, and his young daughters have many fond memories of visiting their Father and seeing all the horses at Camp Shilo during the Regiments summer training in the years before the outbreak of the Second World War.
One of the honours he received during that time was in 1937 when he was chosen to be part of the Contingent at the Coronation of King George VI. On that occasion he rode horseback representing Canada with other Commonwealth officers in the Coronation Parade. He enjoyed talking about this wonderful experience and had many happy stories to tell of it afterwards.
Second World War
The day after the Second World War was declared, he was telephoned from Ottawa and asked if he would consider returning to active service. He agreed immediately and quickly made arrangements for another lawyer to take over his law practice.
Bray served in Canada throughout the war as a Lieutenant Colonel in various capacities including Assistant Adjutant and Quarter Master General of the Military District 10 in Winnipeg and then in Ottawa in the office of Judge Advocate General.
After the war ended he returned to Virden and resumed his law practice. He was appointed a Kings Counsel in 1951. Bray retired from law in 1955 and he and Peggy moved to Victoria where they remained until his death in June 1968. Peggy passed away shortly after and he is survived by his two daughters, two grandchildren and four great grandchildren.
Thank you from all of us for your dedicated service and devotion to your country.
The Family of Hugh Brayfield