Raphael Louis Zengel VC MM
- February 27
) was an American-born Canadian
recipient of the Victoria Cross
, the highest and most prestigious award for gallantry in the face of the enemy that can be awarded to British
Zengel was born at Fairbault, Minnesota. As a young boy, he and his mother Mary proved up a homestead near the village of Plunkett, Saskatchewan.
Zengel received the Military Medal in March 1918 for taking command of his platoon when his officer and sergeant had been put out of action. He was twenty three years old, and serving as a Sergeant
of the 5th (Western Cavalry) Bn., Canadian Expeditionary Force
during the First World War
when he performed the deed for which he was awarded the VC.
On 9 August 1918 east of Warvillers, France, Sergeant Zengel was leading his platoon forward to the attack when he realised that an enemy machine-gun was firing into the advancing line. He rushed forward ahead of the platoon to the gun emplacement, killed the officer and operator of the gun and dispersed the crew. Later in the day he was rendered temporarily unconscious by an enemy shell but on recovering continued to direct harassing fire on the enemy. His utter disregard for personal safety and the confidence he inspired in all ranks greatly assisted in the successful outcome of the attack.
Sergeant Zengel spent most of the rest of his life at Rocky Mountain House
, where the local branch of the Royal Canadian Legion has been named in his honour. He donated his Victoria Cross to the Rocky Mountain House Legion. His headstone can be found at Pine Cemetery, Rocky Mountain House, Canada.
In 1951, one of the mountains of the Victoria Cross Range
, in Jasper National Park
was named in his honour. Mount Zengel is visible from highway 16, east of the Jasper townsite.
In 1936 the government of Canada chose to name a lake in northeastern Saskatchewan in Zengel's honour. Inexplicably, the feature became Zengle Lake and so it remains today (2007).