b. 13/11/1892 Oak River, Manitoba, Canada. d. 10/01/1976 Calgary, Canada.
Alexander Picton Brereton (1892-1976) was born in Oak River, Manitoba, Canada on 13th November 1892, the son of a Manitoba farmer, Cloudesley Picton Brereton and Annie Frazer Black. Alexander was one of six children, four sons and two daughters. He was educated at Hamiota School, Oak River, and after school, worked on a farm, before becoming a barber.
On the outbreak of World War I, he was living at 378 Rose Avenue, Winnipeg, when he enlisted with the 8th Battalion, Canadian Expeditionary Force on 31st January 1916. He left Halifax, Nova Scotia for England on 11th September and arrived in Liverpool two weeks later. After being taken on strength at Shorncliffe, Kent, he arrived in France on 7th February 1917, where he joined the 8th Battalion Manitoba Regiment (2nd Brigade, 1st Canadian Division), with whom he remained for 22 months. He was promoted to Corporal and later Company Sergeant Major.
On 9th August 1918 east of Amiens, France, during an attack when a line of hostile machine-guns opened fire suddenly on his platoon which was in an exposed position with no cover Corporal Brereton realised that unless something was done, his platoon would be annihilated. On his own initiative he at once sprang forward alone and, reaching one of the enemy machine-gun posts, shot the operator of the gun and bayoneted the next one who attempted to operate it, whereupon nine others surrendered. His action inspired the platoon to charge and capture the five remaining posts.
Six weeks after his VC action, he was in Etaples hospital suffering from appendicitis, but recovered in time for his investiture at Buckingham Palace on 24th September 1918, alongside Corporal Frederick Coppins from King George V. After being demobbed, he returned to Canada, and married Mary Isabel McPhee on 17th Jun 1925, and had three children. He later moved to Elnora, Alberta where he farmed 940 acres for a large part of the remainder of his life.
Alexander died in Calgary, Alberta on 10th January 1976, and was buried in Elnora Cemetery, Elnora, Alberta, Canada. His medals were held privately, until they were purchased by Michael Ashcroft in 2006, and the medal group is displayed in the Ashcroft Gallery, Imperial War Museum.
LOCATION OF MEDAL:LORD ASHCROFT GALLERY, IMPERIAL WAR MUSEUM.
BURIAL PLACE: ELNORA CEMETERY, ELNORA, ALBERTA, CANADA.
Alexander Brereton's medals including VC at the Lord Ashcroft Gallery, Imperial War Museum, London. (Aug 2014)