Medals Just Waiting For Their Owners
Ottawa Citizen, 12 November, 1958
By Fred Inglis, Citizen Staff Writer
A huge stack of medals—more than one third of the number earned by Canadians in the Second World War, remains unclaimed 13 years after the close of hostilities.
Of the 3,150,000 decorations minted, two million have been issued and a little over one million are stored in the Veterans' Affairs building, awaiting to be claimed by their rightful owners.
Reason for their non-delivery is the fact that DVA officials lack the veterans' present address.
The situation is much better the Canada than in New Zealand, where nearly three-quarters of the medals earns by that country's soldiers are unclaimed.
At the end of the war, 394,000 service medals were struck but only 105,000 have been issued. The remaining 289,000 remain unclaimed, to the embarrassment of New Zealand authorities.
New Zealanders boycotted the medals because the government did not have them engraved and sent to recipients as was done after the First World War. Veterans there claim that a medal with no name on it is of no value. They also claim they should not have to apply for something that they have a right to receive.
"We'd like to issue our unclaimed medals," a DVA spokesman said, "but we just don't have the addresses of veterans we haven't heard from since they got their gratuity or re-establishment credit."
The department puts out stories from time to time, in an effort to interest veterans in claiming medals, and with some degree of success.
"We tried advertising a year ago in a concentrated area and pulled in a lot of applications," the DVA man said, "But this is too expensive to carry out all across Canada. It would have to be done in all daily and weekly newspapers to reach every veteran."
Exhibits of medals are displayed at Canadian Legion meetings and other events, in the hopes of impelling veterans to claim their medals.
|1939-1945 Star||Atlantic Star||Air Crew Europe Star||Africa Star||Pacific Star||Burma Star|
|Italy Star||France and Germany Star||Defence Medal||Canadian Volunteer Service Medal||1939-1945 War Medal|
Engraving Not Deterred
The fact that Canada's Second World War decorations are not engraved with the veteran's name has not deterred them from applying for medals, a DVA officer believed.
"Only three medals were issued in the First World War," he explained, "they were minted for us by the British and we distributed them. Only 640,000 Canadians were in service and only 420,000 of them went overseas.
"More than 1,080,000 Canadians served during the Second World War when eight [sic] medals were struck. Some got most of the eight. It would mean engraving five million medals. The job was just too big. Medals for the Korean action were engraved, however. But this was a much smaller job."
Canadian war service decorations have a price.
Any veteran who has lost a Second World War campaign star can get another one for only 75 cents.
Other medals, the round ones, which contain a more expensive nickel element [sic], cost $1.75 each.
But the Veterans' Affairs Department has more than one million medals it would like to give away, to their respective owners.