henry louis norwest
One of the most famous Canadian snipers of the First World War was a Métis named Henry Louis Norwest. Norwest was born in Fort Saskatchewan, Alberta. He was of French descent and cries. The Lance Corporal served for nearly three years with the 50th Canadian Infantry Battalion and set a record: he fired 115 fatal blows. Norwest, who had been a farm boy and had participated in rodeos, was also awarded the Military Medal with Clip, making him one of the more than 830 CEF members to have earned this double honor.
Norwest's military career did not have such a glorious start. He enlisted in January 1915 under the name of Henry Louie, and was released three months later due to misconduct. He waited eight months, then enlisted under a new name with a blank folder.
Norwest proved to be a source of inspiration for his unit. This is what one of his comrades wrote about him:
Our famous sniper knew better than most of us the price of life and that of death. Henry Norwest accomplished his terrible task superbly because he believed that his special abilities gave him no choice but to fulfill this indispensable mission. Our 50 th marksman devoted himself passionately to his task and showed a complete detachment when he was at the front. ... and when we had the rare opportunity to meet him, we found him with a nice and kind touch. He was one of us and he always served us as inspiration.
Isolated shooting was a very dangerous infantry role. Most of the shooters worked in pairs, an observer, who scanned the surroundings and reported any movement of the enemy, and a shooter. It was said that Norwest possessed all the necessary qualities for isolated shooting: an excellent shooter, he could remain motionless for very long periods of time and possessed extraordinary camouflage techniques. He spent much of his service in No Man's Land , this terrible space separating the opposing forces. In addition, Norwest and his observer often slipped behind enemy lines.
This exceptional Battalion shooter won the MM in 1917 on a promontory of Vimy Ridge called "The Bud". The Canadian Corps, which was part of the massive Allied offensive, was to seize the ridge. The Allies had already tried in vain to seize it. The carefully planned attack of the Canadians is successful. Most of the ridge fell into Canadian hands on the first day, April 9th. Three days later, the two remaining enemy posts, including the "Bud", were conquered.
In the quotation accompanying the decoration awarded to Norwest, it was stated that he had shown "great bravery, skill and initiative in his task of sniper after taking the" Bud ". He succeeds in saving the lives of many of our men. "
The following year, a staple was added to the Norwest MM , but in the quote, there is no reason. In August 1918, he again demonstrated an unswerving courage. During the Battle of Amiens, France, Allied forces advanced 19 kilometers in three days. Norwest destroyed many enemy gunnery positions and set his battalion's record as a sniper.
A week later, the 50th took his positions for his next task and it was the last mission of the sniper. On August 18, three months before the end of the war, Norwest and two other soldiers searched for a nest of dangerous enemy snipers. The Métis maverick was shot by a sniper and was killed instantly. For the members of his battalion, a real hero had just disappeared.