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RCMI Installs Captain Charles Rutherford’s Pistol

Captain Charles Smith Rutherford, VC, MC, MM
Captain Charles Smith Rutherford, VC, MC, MM

The Royal Canadian Military Institute’s museum collection was started in 1890 and it now holds many significant items. For example there is the Colt pistol used by Captain Charles Rutherford, V.C., to capture 80 Germans and 2 machine gun posts, for which he won the Victoria Cross in August 1918. Rutherford was born on a farm in Colborne Ontario on 9 January 1892. He joined The Queen’s Own Rifles in 1916, transferred to the 5th Canadian Mounted Rifles and went off to war.

At 26 years of age, Rutherford was in command of an assault party during the 4th Battle of the Scarpe near Monchy, France on 26 August 1918. He found himself a considerable distance ahead of his men when he confronted a strong enemy party. With a masterful bluff, while brandishing his revolver, he took 45, prisoners including two officers and three machine-guns. The lieutenant then observed gunfire from another pillbox that was holding up the assault, so he attacked with his troops, capturing another 35 prisoners and their guns. The last sentence of his VC citation reads, “The bold and gallant action of this officer contributed very materially to the capture of the main objective and was a wonderful inspiration to all ranks in pressing home the attack on a very strong position”.

On 11 June 1989, C.S. Rutherford was the last winner of the Victoria Cross from World War I to die. He was 97 years of age and is buried at in Union Cemetery, Colborne, Ontario. His story is one to be remembered as his combat revolver goes on display once again.

By Gil Taylor