Biography

RSM William Demmy, DCM, CD

DEMMY, William, Sergeant (P.22238) - Distinguished Conduct Medal - Infantry (Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry) - awarded as per Canada Gazette dated 18 March 1944 and CARO/4296 dated 1 April 1944 , "in recognition of gallant and distinguished services in Italy ". Joined Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry, 1 September 1939 as a Private; wounded on 6 December 1943 and again on 15 December 1943 ; promoted Company Sergeant-Major; and retired on 5 March 1945 . See pages 127 to 128 of Volume III, Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry 1919 - 1957. Immediate award initiated by Lieutenant-Colonel C.B. Ware, Commanding Officer, Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry; supported by Lieutenant-Colonel J.C. Jefferson, Temporary Commander 2 Canadian Infantry Brigade on 11 January 1944 and passed forward on 12 January 1944; endorsed by Major-General Chris Vokes, General Officer Commanding, 1 Canadian Infantry Division on 13 January 1944 and passed forward on 29 January 1944; supported by Lieutenant-General C.W. Allfrey, Commander 5 British Corps on 30 January 1944 and passed forward on 31 January 1944; supported by Lieutenant-General O.W.L. Leese, General Officer Commanding, Eighth Army on 1 February 1944 and passed for action on 5 February 1944; approved by General H.R. Alexander, General Officer Commanding-in-Chief, 15 Army Group on 7 February 1944 and passed for action on 1 March 1944.  

On the night 5/6 December 1943, Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry attacked and captured the town of Val Roatti (Map Reference 320097 - Reference Map Italy 1:50,000 Sheet 147-I Lanciano). On consolidation "B" Company was allotted the defence of the northwest corner of the town.

At 0730 hours, the enemy counter-attacked heavily with infantry. 10 Platoon, which was under command of Sergeant Demmy, was occupying a house in the forward position of the right flank of the company. The platoon on the right was overrun and badly cut up, leaving 10 Platoon in a very exposed position. By his personal example and exposing himself to heavy enemy fire on more than one occasion, Sergeant Demmy rallied his platoon around the house, despite the fact that the enemy had penetrated to his rear and on both flanks. Enemy fire was directed at his position from a distance of 75 yards from every direction. None the less, the position was held and thirty enemy were killed in attempting to dislodge the platoon. Sergeant Demmy was only able to direct the defence of this position by exposing himself at windows and on the ground to heavy fire from machine guns and rifles.  

At 1345 hours, the enemy counter-attacked again from the left with tanks. The house in which Sergeant Demmy was situated was subjected to Armour Piercing and High Explosive fire from two Mark IV Special Tanks and one anti-tank gun and machine gun fire and rifle fire from following infantry. The building was almost totally destroyed. Sergeant Demmy was wounded by falling masonry and stone splinters. When the house was no longer tenable, Sergeant Demmy led his platoon out of the house and, though dangerously exposed, personally sited fire positions for his sections on the left flank. The two tanks were destroyed by our own tanks in the rear, when only 50 yards from his position. Not until all fear of counter-attack had passed did Sergeant Demmy report himself as wounded.  

The example set by Sergeant Demmy's courage and devotion as well as his superb leadership and determination, inspired his platoon to hold at all costs a position that was vital to the defence of the battalion area.