Source: Per record of promotion for Fred Barret, reg. no. 53317.
Vincent Wilbert Murdock was born on 6 August 1899 at York, Ontario, the son of Robert Murdock of 767 Shaw Street, Toronto, Canada. A clerk by profession, he lied about his age on his attestation documents – recording his date of birth as 6 July 1897 – and joined the Canadian Overseas Expeditionary Force at Toronto on 26 October 1915. Murdock served in France with the 18th Battalion, Canadian Infantry, from 28 September 1916 and was promoted Corporal on 9 April 1917. He was severely wounded on 2 April 1918, suffering a shrapnel wound to the left thigh, left forearm and face. Admitted to No. 51 General Hospital at Etaples, Murdock was evacuated to the Princess Christian Military Hospital at Englefield Green, Surrey, his thigh wound noted as ‘large, v. septic’. The wounds took a considerable time to heal and Murdock eventually returned home to Canada on 14 December 1918 aboard the Olympic.
Following a period of further recovery, Murdock took employment with the Toronto Fire Department and was serving as Fire Captain on 17 September 1949 when the S.S. Noronic caught fire whilst moored at Pier 9 in Toronto Harbour. According to a contemporary newspaper account, Murdock ‘almost died during one of the explosions on that ship as he tried to rescue the victims’. The fire spread quickly, fuelled by the lemon-oil-polished wood panelling on the walls (A Fiery Demise for the Queen of the Lakes, refers). In total, 119 of the 524 passengers and 171 crew members aboard died in the flames. It remains the worst fire disaster in the history of Toronto Harbour.
Murdock retired in 1958 after 38 years of service with the Fire Department. Two years later he became Director of Camp Maple Leaf, a camp for underprivileged children on Pigeon Lake which was sponsored by the Toronto Firefighters’ War Veterans Association. He held the post until 1965 and died on 16 January 1983 at the Scarborough Centenary Hospital;