Captain William “Bill” Grant Herbert, MC, was born in Toronto 8 May 1922, son of Captain William Shelley Herbert, MC and Winnifred Fleming, W.S. Herbert served with The Queen’s Own Rifles of Canada before joining the Canadian Expeditionary Force in the First World War and was second in command of the 27th (Reserve) Veterans Guard unit during the Second World War.
Bill attended the University of Toronto School and Ontario College of Art before enlisting with The Queen’s Own Rifles in the Second World War.
On 19 August 1944 (CG 34 p.3545) he was awarded the Military Cross for his action on Juno Beach on D-Day – 6 June 1944:
“Lieutenant William Grant Herbert commanded a platoon of “B” Company of the Queen’s Own Rifles which was an assault company during the landing at Bernières-sur-Mer at approximately 0800 hours. The company was met with severe machine-gun fire from a pill box 100 yards to its front and within the first few minutes there were sixty-five casualties. Lieutenant Herbert, himself suffering from a head wound and shrapnel in the leg, ran forward with two of his men and assaulted the pill box with grenades and Sten machine carbine. As a result of this act, the pill box was put out of action and the remainder of the company were able to proceed with their all-important task of eliminating the beach defences. Due to this complete disregard for his personal safety and his bravery and determination to carry out his commander’s intention, the task was successfully completed and the company which followed in the landing on the beach suffered no casualties from the beach defences. For this action, he was awarded the Military Cross.”
Valour on Juno Beach by T. Robert Fowler, page 38
Another reference to his action that day:
“The Queen’s Own Rifles had the roughest experience of all the Canadian battalions. … but “B” Company’s landing craft blown off course by the wind and beached the men directly in front of the machine guns. These soldiers had to draw upon all their reserves of courage to save the situation. Three men, Lieutenant Herbert, Corporal Tessier and Rifleman Chicosky, were awarded medals for their work in destroying the main pillbox.”
No Price Too High by Terry Copp with Richard Nielsen page 161
On 5 October 1945 in Haileybury, Ontario, he married Edith Manley and had children.
He died 17 April 1978 – likely from a piece of WWII shrapnel in his head. He was cremated with his Military Cross.
His family would later donate for two plaques at the Juno Beach Centre in Normandy recognizing the service of both father and son.