The Minute Book
Saturday, 10 September 2016

Medals to 1,000,000 Veterans
Topic: Medals

Will Soon Issue Medals to 1,000,000 Veterans

Ottawa Citizen, 10 September 1949
By the Canadian Press

At long last the stars and medals for service in the Second World War are ready for distribution.

The Veterans Affairs Department announced yesterday that it will begin Oct. 1 mailing the campaign medals and stars to more than 1,000,000 men and women who served in the Canadian armed forces and merchant navy.

Distribition will involve a total of 3,100,000 stars and medals with an additional 524,000 clasps signifying at least 60 days service outside of Canada.

In most cases the veterans will have to write into the department for their medals.

"The reason for this is we do not have up-to-date addresses for thousands of veterans," Veterans Affairs Minister [Milton Fowler] Gregg said.

"There are many thousands who have gone quietly back into civilian life and have not been in contact with the department since their discharge. As a result we must have these applications to have accurate addresses."

Easy to Apply

To make it easy for application, special postage-free cards will be placed in all Canadian post offices. These cards will also be available in all branches of the Canadian Legion.

Merchant seamen and former members of the merchant navy are advised to apply to the Department of Transport at Ottawa, submitting with their application their certificate of discharge. From this, the department will decide what awards they are entitled to, and forward the medals they have earned.

As for members of the permanent force, they'll receive their decorations through the Department of National Defence. Application will not be necessary in their case. Nor will it be necessary for certain reserve units, for which arrangements have already been made.

To Next-Of-Kin

Mr. Gregg said the next-of-kin of deceased veterans will be eligible to receive the stars and medals which would have been awarded to the veteran.

"There will be no necessity for applications from the next-of-kin of veterans who died on active service or as a result of a service connected disability," he said.

"The department has accurate addresses for these people. However, the official next-of-kin of those who have died since discharge of a non-service disability should make application in the same way as the veteran."

All told the department will distribute 11 different stars and medals.

The largest number will be of the War Medal 1939-45 which goes to all members of the forces with 28 days service. A total of 1,060,000 of these have been ordered.

Next is the Canadian Volunteer Service Medal, of which 900,000 will be distributed. These go to all who volunteered for active service. To 524,000 of the recipients will go clasps signifying at least 60 days service outside Canada.

Following are other medals and stars to be distributed:

  • Defence Medal, 460,000;
  • 1939-45 Star, 288,000;
  • France and Germany Star, 250,000;
  • Italy Star, 102,000;
  • Atlantic Star, 40,000;
  • Africa Star, 12,000;
  • Pacific Star, 10,825; and
  • Burma Star, 5,200.

In addition, 25,870 clasps to stars will be awarded.

Canadian Army Battle Honours

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Updated: Saturday, 10 September 2016 12:36 AM EDT
Friday, 2 September 2016

Nine Ex-Soldiers Awarded M.S.M. (1931)
Topic: Medals

Nine Ex-Soldiers Awarded M.S.M.

Honor Available to Pensioners of Permanent Force Limited to 75

The Montreal Gazette, 18 June 1931

Ottawa, June 17.—The most coveted award available to pensioners of the permanent force of Canada, the Meritorious Service Medal, has been bestowed upon nine ex-soldiers, who fulfilling all the exacting qualifications required, now join the ranks of the 66 other holders of that decoration in the Dominion. Holders of the M.S.M. constitute a "Legion d'Honneur" limited to 75 persons in this country. All must have served 21 years in the permanent force, must have held the rank of sergeant or higher, be in possession of the medal for long service and good conduct, and have been awarded as exemplary character.

Awards of the M.S.M. are made only to fill up the ranks of this "Legion" when it becomes depleted by death. In the case of one of those to whom the award has just been made—Q.M.S. T.J. Pierson, now living at Westcliffe-on-Sea, England, he has waited 19 years. Mr. Pierson was pensioned from the Royal Canadian Ordnance Corps in 1912 after 25 years of service.

The other recipients are:—

  • C.Q.M.S. S.A. McLean, Halifax, a veteran of the South African War;
  • C.Q.M.S. K. White, pensioned in 1919 after 25 years' service in the Royal Canadian Garrison Artillery, Halifax;
  • Staff Sergeant H.E. Taylor, pensioned from the Royal Canadian Army Medical Corps, after 44 years' service in 1928, Dartmouth, N.S.;
  • Sergt. J.E. Gould, Long Creek, N.B., pensioned in 1917 after 25 years' service in the Royal Canadian Regiment;
  • R.Q.M.S. W.J. Connolly, Halifax, discharged after 23 years' service in the R.C.R.;
  • Sergeant-Major B. Coffin, Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry, Kingston, Ont., pensioned after 23 years' service;
  • Sergeant-Major G.A. Jacques, of Victoria, B.C., pensioned in 1930 from the Lord Strathcona's Horse after 25 years' service;
  • Sergeant-Major H.C. Baldwin, pensioned from the Royal Canadian Dragoons after 22 years' service, Birchcliff, Toronto.

Researching Canadian Soldiers of the First World War

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Sunday, 7 August 2016

The Victoria Cross for Heroes Only (1900)
Topic: Medals

The Victoria Cross for Heroes Only (1900)

How the Most Coveted Decoration in England is Won and How it is Bestowed

The Deseret News, Salt Lake City, Utah, 26 January 1900
By Curtis Brown in the St. Louis Globe*#8211;Democrat.

London, Jan. 11.—Lord Roberts of Kandahar, who will arrive at the Cape in a few days to take charge of the biggest British army that ever took the field, is a little man, as everyone knows, and there is not much room left on his coat for additional medals. You can see that for yourself by studying the accompanying picture of him, taken only a few weeks ago. But of all the honors betokened there, and all the others which a genuinely fond public has given him and will shower upon him later if he fulfils their hopes in the Transvaal, the simplest, the least expensive intrinsically, and by far the most democratic, is the one for which, if necessary, you may be sure he would sacrifice all others.

It is the Victoria Cross, the first in the row upon his breast.

Some of the humblest men, socially and financially, in the empire have decorations just like it. But general and private, white man and black, each had the proudest moment of his life when that little bronze cross was laid upon his breast. And Lord Roberts, sailing away to fight on the field where his only son had just been slain, probably was supported in his sense of loss by the consensus of opinion that the action in which the young man lost his life would would have won for him also the Victoria Cross if he had lived.

Lord Roberts won his V.C. in the Indian Mutiny, when only a lieutenant, forty-one years ago, in the course of an action that was unpleasant enough to be named Khodagunge. While the fighting was going on, he saw two of the enemy—Sepoys—making off with the British colors. He was on horseback, and started after them, when they turned on him and aimed their muskets at him. One missed him, the other's gun missed fire, and by that time he was on them, slashing away with his sword. He killed one. The other took to his heels, and the standard was safe. Only a few minutes before the lieutenant had saved the life of one of his men by cutting down a Sepoy who was about to kill him with a bayonet.

Lord Roberts wears nine decorations on his breast on dress occasions, as the illustration shows, and how many more he may have no one feels sure; even the religiously exact army list contents itself with naming five, and then says, breathlessly, "etc., etc."

In the picture one sees the general's six medals in a row, and three others beneath them. Of the medals, following from left to right, the first is the Victoria Cross; the second, the India Mutiny decoration, with three bars, one for Delhi, one for Lucknow, and one for the relief of Lucknow; the third is the Indian medal for 1854, with three claps for Burmah, Umbeylah and Looshai, meaning that this officer has distinguished himself afresh in each of these; the fourth is the Abyssinian medal; the fifth, the Afghan, and the sixth that of Kabul-Kandahar, in recognition of his remarkable march and victorious battle with Ayub Khan. The large decorations beneath are orders—two above and one below. Those above again from left to right, are the Order of the Bath and the Star of India, that below, the Order of the Indian Empire.

Gen. Sir Redvers Buller is another Victoria Cross man. His decoration was granted to him for saving three lives in a retreat after a battle with the Zulus. He was then a captain and a brevet lieutenant colonel. The Zulus were pressing the British troops hard, when an officer's horse was killed and its rider left in fearful danger. Buller galloped back, took the officer up behind him and carried him to a place of safety. Returning, he found a young lieutenant in precisely the same fix, and he did the trick over again. When he got back a trooper's animal had just fallen, exhausted, and for a third time Buller's horse carried a double load, and Buller exposed himself to the enemy to save a comrade although the Zulus were not a hundred yards away.

Sir George White, so long "bottled up" in Ladysmith, won the Victoria Cross under Lord Roberts in Afghanistan, by charging a fortified hill and taking it, backed by only a few men, at this time he was only a major in the famous Gordon Highlanders. They advanced under a racking fire, and on reaching the top of the slope found themselves outnumbered ten to one. Quick as a wink White grabbed a rifle from one of his men and shot the Afghan chief. His followers became demoralized, and the Gordons routed them. Later in the same campaign, on the march to Kandahar Roberts named White a second time in his despatches for having rushed on ahead of his men and captured a gun. He ended by succeeding his superior officer in becoming commander-in-chief in India.

I asked the officer in charge of the medal branch of the war office how a Victoria Cross was obtained after it had been won.

"Why, there isn't as much red tape about it as you would fancy," he said. "The action as a reward for which the cross is given must be performed 'in the presence of the enemy,' and it is desirable that the superior officer of the man who distinguishes himself should have witnessed it. It happens sometimes, however, that no officer is present, and in a case like that the candidate must prove by his companions that he really did do what he asserts that he did. When his immediate superior is satisfied that he ought to be rewarded he writes an account of the business and hands it to the officer in command of the forces and he indorses the papers and sends them on to the war office. Here they are laid before Lord Wolseley, the commander-in-chief, who passes upon them and decides to which applicants the cross shall be given.

"Of course, the cross goes most often to a soldier, sailor or marine, and when it happens that the fortunate man is in England he receives hi medal from the hand of the Queen herself. If he is in the field, however, or on ship board, he receives his decoration from the general or admiral in chief command on the semi-annual inspection day and in the presence of the men who were at the scene of the exploit."

"Then the men who have done brave things do apply personally?"

"Certainly they do. That is in keeping with the spirit of the warrant which the queen first issued in 1856, and which says that he majesty desires that the new decoration should be 'highly prized and eagerly sought after.' In that warrant she said that as the third class Order of the Bath was limited to officers in the higher branches of the service, and as no way then existed to reward heroes adequately for meritorious actions—for army medals of the ordinary kind are given only for long service and exceptional conduct—the Victoria Cross was instituted.

"Sometimes it has happened that several men have done a deed deserving of the cross, without any one of them having distinguished himself above his comrades. In that case the several officers meet and select one officer to be decorated; the non-commissioned officer to be decorated, and the soldiers, marines or seamen also gather an appoint two of their number to receive the crosses.

"Besides the ceremony of presentation in the presence of his comrades," he went on, "the Victoria Cross man has his name mentioned in a general order from the war office, with the particulars of his heroism, and his name also appears in the London Gazette, likewise with an account of what he did, and the original papers are kept sacredly forever afterward. That register is probably the most democratic roll in Great Britain, for upon it the names of nobles and highly placed officers precede and follow those of lowly privates and drummer boys, the one as much honored as the other.

"There have been erasures from that roll, but they can only be made by direct order of the queen, who decides personally all cases where charges are made against V.C. men. Treason, cowardice, felony or other infamous crime are the causes for which a former hero can lose his place in the register. The queen says in her warrant: "We, our heirs and successors shall be the judges of expulsion or restoration."

"Winning a Victoria Cross means a pension of $50 a year from the date of the act for which the cross is bestowed. Then, in cases where the holders of the cross become deserving of it once more, a clasp is added, and each clasp means an increase of $20 a year in the pension. Of course, dishonorable conduct on the part of a V.C. man deprives him of his pension, as well as his place on the register."

The number of crosses bestowed is kept down by a strict observance of the specification which the queen made in her original warrant in 1856, and made emphatic by another in 1881, that the cross should be given not on account of "rank, long service, nor wounds, nor any other service, circumstance or condition save the merit of conspicuous bravery." Politics, said the officer, never is allowed to play a part in the matter.

The queen arranged for the establishment of the cross in 1856, the nineteenth year of her reign, and signified in another royal warrant in 1867 that crosses would be distributed to officers and men who had distinguished themselves in the insurgent wars in New Zealand. In 1857 a second royal warrant had made members of the East India service eligible, and in 1881 came a third warrant, making stronger the phrase "conspicuous bravery," and stating that the warrant was issued as "some doubts had arisen" as to the exact qualification for the cross.

Although no official statement has been made on the subject, it is fair to assume that Lord Wolseley has already decided on a few, at least, of the V.C. winners of the Transvaal war. Winston Churchill has been declared by the public to be deserving of one for his efforts in behalf of the wounded when the armored train was attacked. Trumpeter Sherlock, the boy who shot three Boers with a revolver, and whose example every English boy is dying to emulate—some of them having run away from school with that project in mind—has established a clear claim to one.

More people than he himself will be disappointed if the "bugler boy of Elandslaagte" is not made a V.C. the story of his deed has travelled faster than his name, but he is true to the type of Napoleon's drummer boy who "didn't know how to beat a retreat." Attached to the Gordon Highlanders, who seem always to be prowling around when there is any storming of heights to be done, be it in Europe, Asia or Africa, he and they mounted the slope—at the crest of which the Boers had their stronghold—all cheering lustily and dribing everything before them until they reached the summit, with the Devons, Manchesters and Imperial light horse at their heels, when suddenly a bugle call rang out, "Cease firing! Retreat!" True, it was a Boer trick and a Boer trumpet that was being winded to demoralize the "redcoats," but they didn't know it. The British soldier is a machine, who obeys without thinking, and he did cease firing and was about to retreat when this pint-measure chap jumped into the breach.

"Retreat be damned!" he screamed, and then, lifting his bugle and putting his whole heart into one blow, he sent the "Charge!" rocketing over the hill. Some of the men hear the "swear" and all heard the bugle. They charged, and the Boer line was split and shattered.

It was a drummer who had the honor of being the youngest man who ever wore the Victoria Cross. His name was Michael Magnar, and his chance came at the storming of Magdala, under Lord Napier, in Abyssinia. The path leading to the gate of the fortress was filled with obstacles, and the defenders of the gate were pouring a withering fire over it. Led by the drummer boy, a small party climbed the hill by a circuitous path, forced their way through a breastwork of thorns and engaged the enemy, beating them back. Then the main body of the army advanced and the works were taken. The drummer boy was one of the first to enter.

Then there is Corp. Farmer, whom everyone knows as "Farmer, of Majuba Hill." He was a member of the army hospital corps, and, of course, it was his business to look after Colley's men in that ghastly massacre. Corp. Farmer and his comrades had gathered the wounded men together in a little hollow of the hill, for shelter, but the Boers were pouring bullets in everywhere, and the wounded soldiers were being wounded a second time. Farmer found a white flag and waved it over the little group, when a ball passed through his flag arm. He said, "Never mind, I've got another,"and lifted the flag again in his left hand, when that was shot through, too. Then he fell, only a few yards away from Gen. Colley.

"I've got tired telling the story," he said to me last night, when I asked if he would put it in his own words. He is assistant doorkeeper at the Criterion theatre, and after helping to for the long "cue" (sic) of people that wait outside the pit entrance every night he guards one of the exits.

"It was in February when I was shot," he said, "and I got my cross in August. I was sick in the hospital at Newcastle, though, until the last of May. Yes the queen herself gave me the cross, at Osborne House, in the Isle of Wight. My general went with me, and when we came in the queen said 'This is one of the bravest men I have, isn't he, general?' The general just nodded his head. The queen pinned the cross on my coat and said, 'I am proud of you, and I hope you'll have a long life.' My arm was all bandaged and in splints, and she laid her hand on it and caressed it. I left the cross where she put it until that coat was worn so's I couldn't wear it any longer.

"I'm a modest man," he went on. "Om one of the modestest of men, but I'll say this to you about what I did. Most of the who've won the cross have advanced on ambuscades or fought under a fire that came from they didn't know where. But I tell you I knew. I was shot through both arms by the same man, and I tell you it's hard to stand there and be potted, and then hold up ready to be potted again."

Farmer wears his cross all the time, but is inclined to be critical regarding the world's treatment of him. "I ain't one of the favored few of a wealthy nation," he said. "That Majuba Hill business was all right, and it got a lot of advertising; but there was no money in it. I've had my picture printed, no end of it, and I've got a whole book of newspaper clippings about me. A fellow is singing a song about 'Brave Corporal Farmer of Gory Majuba Hill' at one of the halls, and making money off it; but here I am working nights for 50 cents a night, and that precarious. One of my hands is half paralyzed too."

Everybody knows about him, however, and is more ready to tell his story than he is, and how he left a sweetheart at home in England when he went to the Transvaal, and how she was the proudest girl in the whole country. He married her the day after he came home, and she is his wife now, and cherishes every picture of him and newspaper reference to him even more than he does.

There is another V.C. man employed at the British Museum, and another at the Imperial Institute at Kensington. They won their crosses together, also in saving wounded men, this time from Zulus who surprised the hospital of which they were in charge.

There is only one case in which two brothers have won crosses, the men now being lieutenant generals, K.C.B. Gough is their name. The younger, Hugh Henry Gough, was in command of Hudson's Horse at Lucknow. He led a mighty charge across a swamp, resulting in the capture of two guns; his horse was twice wounded, and his turban cut almost from his head. He virtually won the cross again later on through another breakneck charge, and fought several duels in the course of the battle, finally being wounded by a shot just as he was charging down on the Sepoys armed with bayonets. Before he got the wound that downed him he had two horses shot under him and had been shot through the helmet.

His brother, Sir Charles, went through the Punjo campaign, as a boy of 17. Four times has he merited the cross, originally by saving the life of his fire-eating brother at Khurkowdah, when he killed the two men who were upon him. Three days afterward he led a cavalry charge and fount two men hand-to-hand, killing both of them. A year after, at Shumshabad, he engaged and sabered the leader of the enemy, and a month later he rescued still another officer and sent his opponent to kingdom come.

Canadian Army Battle Honours

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Tuesday, 12 July 2016

Victoria Cross in Pawn (1907)
Topic: Medals

Victoria Cross in Pawn (1907)

Hero Who Won It Found Dying Before It Is Sold

The Carp Review, Carp, Ontario, 3 January 1907
(From the London Mirror.)

After a brief spell of fame it seems to be the predestined fate of the Victoria Cross hero to sink into a position so reduced that it is impossible to find his whereabouts.

Many are the romances, which rate has woven around men who, after a daring feat of arms, have been rewarded by a grateful sovereign with the proudest possession of a soldier. But none of them is more pathetic than that of a distinguished officer whose Victoria Cross was to have been sold next week in a London auction room.

Fifty years ago he performed such feats of heroism in the Crimea that he received a nation's praise and a grateful Queen pinned on his breast the bronze cross that is worth so little and yet is worth so much.

Afterwards he rose to high rank in the army and retired. Ten years ago misfortune overtook him, and as a last resource he raised a few pounds by leaving his beloved cross in a pawn broker's frawer. Then he departed and nothing more was heard of him.

A Victoria Cross is never sold until after the death of the man to whom it has been awarded.

The auctioneers searched the Somerset house registers for days, but the gallant officer's name was not to be found. At last, three days ago, his death was presumed and the cross was advertised for sale. It was to have been sold nest week, but yesterday afternoon, quite by accident, the auctioneers heard that the officer was still alive, although seriously ill.

And so the cross will not be sold. Possibly a friend will recompense the pawn-broker to the extent of its value and send it along to the officer in order that he may see it again before he dies.

Canadian Army Battle Honours

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Thursday, 11 February 2016

Halifax Explosion Albert Medals
Topic: Medals

Halifax Explosion Albert Medals

Extract from the London Gazette, No. 31187, 18 February 1919

Admiralty, S.W., 18th February, 1919

The KING has been graciously pleased to approve of the posthumous award of the Albert Medal for gallantry in saving life at sea to:—

Mr. Albert Charles Mattison, late Acting Boatswain, Royal Canadian Navy, and

Stoker Petty Officer Edward E. Beard, late Royal Naval Canadian Volunteer Reserve

The following is the account of the services in respect of which these decorations have been conferred:---

On the 6th December, 1917, the French steamer "Mont Blanc," with a cargo of high explosives, and the Norwegian steamer "Imo" were in collision in Halifax Harbour. Fire broke out on the "Mont Blanc" immediately after the collision, and the flames very quickly rose to a height of over 100 feet. The crew abandoned their ship and pulled towards the shore. The commanding officer of the H.M.C.S. "Niobe," which was lying in the harbour, on perceiving what had happened, sent away a steam boat to see what could be done. Mr. Mattison and six men of the Royal Canadian Navy Volunteer Reserve volunteered to form the crew of this boat, but just as the boat got alongside the "Mont Blanc" the ship blew up, and Mr. Mattison and the whole boat's crew lost their lives. The boats' crew were fully aware of the desperate nature of the work they were engaged on, and by their gallantry and devotion to duty they sacrificed their lives in the endeavour to save the lives of others.

elipsis graphic

From the details available in the databases of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission and the Canadian Virtual War Memorial, we can assemble the full list of the Niobe sailors lost on 6 Dec, 1917, that formed the crew of the steam launch:

All of these men are commemorated on the Halifax Memorial erected in Point Pleasant Park, Halifax, Nova Scotia.

The Senior Subaltern

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EST
Updated: Thursday, 11 February 2016 12:02 AM EST
Thursday, 9 July 2015

Honours and Awards
Topic: Medals

Honours and Awards

Battle Dress, by Gun Buster

Later, I shall come to the incident itself in which Lieutenant Reginald Ellington of the 666th Field Regiment R.A. figured as hero.

Hero is the word understood of, and approved by thc general public. But it is not the term under which Reggie Ellington's comrades ever consider him. And, of course, it is the very last word he would dream of in connection with himself.

Upon this subject of gallant deeds and decorations there is a noteworthy difference of thought between the population of the Army itself and what may be called their civilian relatives—in other words, the outside public. It may be accepted as a truth beyond contradiction that the Army knows all there is to be known about decorations, their worth, their significance, and sometimes their insignificance. They have standards and appreciations that are not always identical with those held outside its ranks. The generous-minded, sentimental public love to have their heroes. They take them to their heart and glamourise them. But to the people within the Army there is no glamour about a medal. Even a V.C.—which takes a bit of winning—does not carry hero-worship with it. This, of course, must not be taken to mean that the Army does not care for decorations just as much as everybody else. The Army does But it is very reluctant to regard them as a badge of superhuman courage or ability, by which one man is to be for ever distinguished beyond his fellows. They like decorations in the Army, but they like them mainly as an indication that a job of work has been well done. The only possible exception to this is to be found in the case of the V.C. to win which a man must face almost certain death. It is recognised that here is something a bit more out of the way than a "job of work." It is also recognised that a man will do things in the heat of battle that in cold blood would make him sick merely to think about. So the soft-pedal comes down on the hero-worship, even with the V.C.

The Army nurtures no illusions about "gongs," their own expressive slang for medals. They know that the man disporting one is as likely to be no braver than the man without. They know that many factors have to fall just right for the winning of one. And they know that a principal factor is luck. All may be brave, but not all may be lucky enough to have their deeds noticed. A man may miss a V.C. merely because his gallant behaviour happens not to be seen by "someone in authority"—an essential condition. Opportunity is another potent factor. One man may go through a long campaign and never a chance of qualifying for a "gong" comes within a mile of him. Another has opportunities thrust upon him in his very first engagement. He simply cannot miss them. There still remains the mystery of the final adjudication—how one bit of work comes to be acknowledged by the powers that be as worth an M.C. or an M.M. while another, to all intents and purposes just as meritorious, goes unrewarded. Illustrative of this is the story of a gunner subaltern in the last war, who was recommended on four different occasions for the M.C. but never received more than a "mention in despatches." He was recommended a fifth time, and got it. Ultimate recognition came to him because in the middle of an action he had thrown a bucket of water over the hessian camouflage net covering a gun-pit, after it had been set on fire by the flash from one of the guns. The deed involved him in no particular danger. He happened to be standing near a bucket at the time, and acted with presence of mind. That was all. As a "gong-earner" the exploit could not be compared with any of the previous four that had not been considered worthy of the M.C. The subaltern knew it, and was always very shy of his belated ribbon. It is the complete understanding of these fortuitous factors governing decorations that gives the Army its very clear perspective on the subject.

The Army divides all D.S.O.'s, M.C.'s, M.M.'s and D.C.M.'s into two distinct classes. The first are known as "Immediate Awards," and they are given for gallantry or distinguished conduct in action. Your recommendation for one of these goes in from the Regiment to the Division directly the action is over. Sometimes this will be the same day. The C.O. may make it his last job that night. There is as little delay as possible. Hence the term: "Immediate Awards."

The second group are familiarly known in the Army as "Ration Honours," and though the "high ups" may be slightly- shocked by the irreverence of the phrase, nevertheless it very neatly sums up their character. They come along automatically, like rations, after an action in which a Division or more has been engaged. It may be one, two, or three months after. But they arrive. So many D.S.O.'s, so many M.C.'s, so many M.M.'s and D.C.M.'s for each Division. These in turn are cut up and allotted to each regiment that took part in the action. If, as often happens, there are no outstanding cases of gallantry still deserving recognition, the C.O. of the regiment or battalion holds a conference with the Majors to decide who shall receive them for general good work. Much like the distribution of good conduct medals at school.

Therefore, it will easily be understood that a D.S.O., M.C., M.M. or D.C.M. may mean many different things. If it be an "Immediate Award" it implies a good deal more than if it be a "Ration Honour." Generally speaking, "Immediate Awards" are individually earned honours. A Colonel or Major may get a D.S.O. simply because his battalion or regiment, or company or battery, has been doing well. They cannot get less, because the M.C. is not awarded to anyone over the rank of captain. On the other hand, a D.S.O. can be won by a subaltern and, speaking generally again, if a subaltern gets the D.S.O. you can bet your boots that it is worth far more than the majority of D.S.O.'s handed out to Colonels and Majors. A subaltern's D.S.O. is never a "Ration Honour." It's more likely to be a near-miss to a V.C.

Perhaps it is because the Army knows so much of the "inside story" of decorations that the subject is never a popular one for conversation among officers or men. If the topic does crop up it is mentioned in a very diffident manner, and the talk soon dies a natural death. The last man in the world to tell you how he won a "gong" is the wearer of the ribbon himself. (I am speaking, of course, as in the Army. Among his civilian friends he may feel less embarrassed.) Most of them wear their new ribbons almost apologetically. "You'd have done the same if you'd been in my position," sums up the whole medal attitude. They can also be very touchy on the subject amongst their comrades. I recall a young gunner subaltern who, after being evacuated from Dunkirk, went home on leave, and the morning after saw to his horror that the newspapers had made a headline story of his winning the M.C. He felt so embarrassed that when he rejoined the regiment six days later he still hadn't put up the ribbon.

"Why aren't you wearing it?" asked the Colonel.

"I'm very annoyed about the whole affair, sir" he replied. "I hope none of you think I had anything to do with that newspaper stuff."

"My dear fellow, we never dreamed for a moment that you had," said the Colonel. "Let me see you with that ribbon on to-morrow. That's an order."

Having seen a good many "gongs" cleaned up by the B.E.F. in Flanders and France I am able, without hesitation, to add my testimony to the bulk of evidence supporting the theory that there exists no specific "brave man" type. A lot of preconceived ideas about who would do well and who wouldn't went by the board as soon as men came under fire. Some of the frail looking rabbits did magnificently. Some of the great hefty fellows, real bruisers, turned out hopeless. And it was the same with temperament as with physique. Which only goes to show that human nature is as incalculable on the battlefield as it is elsewhere.

And this brings me back to Lieutenant Reggie Ellington, whose externals were not of the type usually associated with candidates for battlefield honours. Reggie had the pallor of a lily. He was frail, and somewhat drooping. If he represented any type at all, it was the youthful man-about-town, dandified, and a bit affected. Later on, we were to remember that if Reggie exhibited the paleness of the lily, he also possessed its coolness. We remembered occasions when he had talked to brass-hats as if he were doing them a favour. (Surprisingly enough, they'd take it from him.) Winning an M.C. would come as child's play to a youth who could do this, we realised. But this was only wisdom after the event. So was our realisation that his treatment of serious matters as a joke, and his apparent lack of any sense, of responsibility, had all the time been merely a pose. Before the war, Reggie had "been something" in his father's business in the City. He affected to find army life unendurable without his portable wireless set, and his cigar in the evening. Wherever he was, and whatever the critical conditions during the Retreat, he never missed his cigar. Whatever else had to be jettisoned, he clung to his cigar box and wireless set to the grim end. And it was grim enough, in all conscience. Dunkirk beach, strewn with its dead and dying, a pall of smoke blotting out the sky, the promenade one sheet of flame, the German shells bursting among the dunes, the dive-bombers distributing their final dose of death and destruction before nightfall. And in the middle of the horrors, Reggie Ellington seated calmly on the sand in front of his crooning wireless, smoking his very last cigar. Just one man of many who, in the hectic days of the preceding three weeks, had done a good job of work.

The Senior Subaltern

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Friday, 26 June 2015

The VC Centenary
Topic: Medals

The VC Centenary

Canadian Army Journal, Vol 10, No 4, Oct 1956
Written Specially for the Journal by Captain J. H. Golding, Public Relations Officer, Canadian Army Liaison Establishment, London, England

Early in the Crimean War, Queen Victoria wrote: "I regret exceedingly not to be a man and be able to fight." On January 29, 1856, Queen Victoria approved a warrant for a new decoration to be called the Victoria Cross—which could only be won by conspicuous bravery or devotion to the country in the presence of the enemy. From that day, the decoration became the most sought-after and it took precedence over all other orders and decorations. It ranks before the Order of the Garter which is some 600 years old. In Hyde Park, London, on June 26, 1856, the first presentation of the new medal was made when a representative parade of 9000 of the Armed Services, 7000 guests and hundreds of thousands of onlookers paid tribute while the Queen presented 61 Victoria Crosses. She was dressed as a Field Marshal and leaned from her horse to pin each medal on the left breast of the 61 heroes. One hundred years later, her great-great-granddaughter, Queen Elizabeth II, reviewed 300 living holders of the Victoria Cross from many parts of the world. There were 36 from Canada, the oldest being 85-year-old Lieut.-General Sir Richard Turner, VC, KCB, KCMG, DSO, VD, of Quebec, leader of the Canadian VC party, who won his medal in the Boer War. A total of 1347 Victoria Crosses has been awarded since 1856: 118 to the Royal Navy, 867 to the Army, 31 to the RAF and 331 to the Commonwealth and Colonies. Today, anyone serving with the Commonwealth Forces, regardless of nationality, and whether a civilian or a member of the services, is eligible for the award. A VC has never been awarded to a woman. The Victoria Cross is fashioned from the bronze barrels of Russian guns captured at Sevastapol during the Crimean War. Supplies of the Russian bronze are unlikely to run out, since the award is rarely bestowed and scores of the massive guns are in museums. VC's are collectors' items, and it is said that while winning one is difficult, forfeiting one is impossible. Before the reign of George V, eight VC winners lost their medals for various contraventions of the law. But George V ruled that it was never to be taken from a winner—in fact, he could wear it on the gallows. A London publication noted: "The VC has been won by an American in The Canadian Army (Metcalfe), a Russian-born Canadian soldier (Konowal), a Dane serving with The Black Watch of Canada (Dinesen) and a German serving with the British in The Crimean War." Three men have won the Victoria Cross twice. Only one is living. He is Captain Upham of the New Zealand Military Forces. The other two were Captain Martin-Leake and Captain Chevasse of the Royal Army Medical Corps. While five padres wore VC's during the centenary celebrations, two assumed Holy Orders after the War, so that one of the three who won the medal as a chaplain was Major John Weir Foote, Minister of Reform Institutions, Ontario Government, Toronto.

Medal for Valour

In the Hyde Park parade of June 26, 1956, The Queen, The Duke of Edinburgh, The Queen Mother, Princess Margaret and other members of The Royal Family stood on a canopied dais from which Her Majesty took the salute of the gallant 300 who marched as though they had been marching regularly. Those who could not walk were wheeled past the reviewing stand by soldiers of their own corps. There were 36 VC's from Canada and 98 wives and representatives of dead VC's. Australia produced 39 VC's and 111 relatives. From New Zealand came 12 VC's and 120 relatives. India was represented by 11 VC's, South Africa by six, Pakistan by two. There were three Ghurkas and others from Tanganyika, Cyprus and Fiji. The largest contingent, consisting of nearly 200 VC's and more than 700 relatives, naturally, came from The United Kingdom. Lord Freyberg, VC, commanded the parade. The Department of Veterans Affairs organized the Canadian VC party and after six months of arduous work had various groups from many parts of Canada ready to sail or fly to Britain. On the United Kingdom side of the Atlantic, Mr. Fred Jacques, Ottawa, conducting official of the main group, was assisted by the DVA Chief in London, Lieut.-Colonel Allan Chambers, Major Fred Clarke, also of DVA, and Captain Dugal Martin, Canadian Provost Corps, Canadian Army Liaison Establishment, London. A generous programme had been arranged by Whitehall and was executed with typical British thoroughness and that extraordinary flair the English have for dignified pageantry.

At 3 p.m. on June 25 there was a Service of Commemoration in Westminster Abbey when His Grace the Archbishop of Canterbury delivered an address. It was the quintessence of solemnity and launched a week of tribute to those recognized as the bravest servicemen in the Commonwealth. Following the Abbey service a tea party was given at the House of Commons by Sir Alfred Bossom, Bt., MP, on behalf of The Royal Society of St. George at which the VC's met members of the British Cabinet and members of Parliament. The big day, however, was Tuesday, June 26, when the grand review was held in Hyde Park. The VC's gathered in the forecourt of Wellington Barracks opposite Buckingham Palace. It was a glorious day with sun washing the newly-painted buildings which momentarily house The 1st Battalion, The Scots Guards. Asiatics came in uniform and national dress. The British wore uniform and bowlers—to a man. Canadians wore western-style summer clothing with the occasional ten-gallon hat offering contrast to the conservative bowler. They formed a colourful group. Hyde Park was a magnificent sight with the services on parade and the royal dais regally filled. Thousands of official guests sat in stands and the perimeter of the park, within sight, was jammed with eager Londoners and tourists. The sun was broiling but not a VC faltered—even the men who were wheeled past the Queen. The bands played. Hymns were sung. The radiant young Queen was most moving in her remarks, and she spoke to many of the heroes. After Her Majesty had moved off, the bands broke the noon air with martial music and the parade marched off the greensward with verve. Queen Victoria would have been extremely proud. That afternoon The Queen Mother was hostess at a garden party in the grounds of Marlborough House, former home of Queen Mary, to which the entire group of VC's and relatives was invited. The Queen Mother, accompanied by The Princess Royal and The Duke and Duchess of Gloucester, moved among the guests with grace and warmth. Among those in her entourage were Earl, The Lord Mountbatten of Burma, and Countess Mountbatten, Anthony Head, the Minister for War, and General Sir Gerald Templar, Chief of The Imperial General Staff. The following day the VC party was taken to Windsor Castle to visit the State Apartments, followed by tea in St. George's Hall. That evening they were guests of The Lord Mayor of London when Aldermen and host were in ceremonial robes and moved among the guests to welcome them to London officially.

On Thursday, June 28, there was a Solemn High Mass in Westminster Cathedral at which His Eminence, Cardinal Griffin, presided. In the afternoon, The High Commissioner for Canada in the United Kingdom and his wife, Mr. and Mrs. Norman A. Robertson, held a reception in Canada House on Trafalgar Square. Among the distinguished guests was Prime Minister St. Laurent, in London attending the Commonwealth Prime Ministers' Conference, and Minister for External Affairs, the Honourable Lester B. Pearson. The same evening the British Empire Service League held a reception for the VC party at Church House.

On Friday, June 29, the VC's were guests of the Canadian joint Staff at the London Headquarters of the Royal Canadian Navy, Canadian Army, Royal Canadian Air Force and Defence Research. The host for the occasion was Air Vice Marshal D. M. Smith, Chairman, Canadian joint Staff. Assisting him were Captain Ralph Hennessey, RCN, representing Commodore J. V. Brock, Naval Member; Brigadier J. E. C. Pangman, Army Member, Air Commodore Dwight Ross, Air Member, and Mr. E. L. Davies, Chief of Defence Research, and their officers. On July 1, Canada Day, the Canadian VC party went to Brookwood Cemetery near Woking to attend the annual memorial service for the several thousand Canadian dead buried there. On July 2, 24 of the VC's were special guests at a dinner of the Canada Club at the Savoy Hotel. Brigadier the Honourable Milton Gregg, VC, Minister of Labour in the Canadian Government, was guest of honour and he spoke optimistically of Canada and her future. So ended, officially, a strenuous whirl of official engagements which formed the salute to The Centenary of the Victoria Cross. Britain had done handsomely by her gallant guests. It was the first time that living VC holders had met together in one place.

Canadian Army Battle Honours

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Friday, 12 June 2015

Private Hercul Bureau, MM
Topic: Medals

Every Soldier has a Story: Hercul Bureau

As an avid collector of medals and badges of my own Regiment, I often scan the offerings at ebay to see if anything matching my collecting theme has shown up. In doing so I always review the newest offerings of medals awarded to Canadians. Among these, the Military Medals, awarded to soldiers for bravery on the field of battle, always catch my eye and cause me to look at the recipients regardless of their unit. Sadly, the specific act or acts for which a Military Medal has been awarded is seldom recorded in accessible documentation, but sometimes this examination leads to a soldier with a story that goes far beyond the answer to that query.

One such recent auction listed, now completed, was for the Military Medal awarded to 144743 Private Hercul Bureau of the 14th Canadian Infantry Battalion.

The auction listing, describing a medal with damage to the rim, did not even provide the soldier's full details:

A search of the CEF Soldiers Database at Library and Archives Canada revealed that two soldiers had been given that service number (a rare error, but not unusual in itself), and the one whose personal details matched the medal was 144743 Private Hercul Bureau.

With a surname sufficiently early in the alphabet that his file has been digitized (27 Mb pdf) and uploaded by Library and Archives Canada (in a project that is starting to look like it will last longer than the Great War itself), we find some interesting notes about the military service of young Hercul.

Hercul Bureau, standing all of 5-foot, 2 and ½ inches in height, enlisted in the Canadian Expeditionary Force on 16 August, 1915, at the age of 18. On enlistment, he joined the 77th Canadian Infantry Battalion at Ottawa. After the 77th Battalion sailed to England, it was broken up to feed the reinforcement stream. Young Hercul found himself serving in France with the 14th Canadian Infantry Battalion, joining his new unit in the field on 8 June 1916.

Bureau's record of service demonstrates clearly that following rules was one of his weaker attributes. He becomes fully acquainted with the military justice system, as shown in these entries in his service record:

  • 20 March 1916 – 15 days detention for disobedience.
  • 20 June 1916 – 7 days Field Punishment No. 1 for being in town without a pass.
  • 17 August 1916 – 1 day F.P. No. 2 for being improperly dressed on parade.
  • 26 August 1916 – 1 day F.P. No. 2 for absence from parade.
  • 15 January 1917 – 7 days Field Punishment No. 2 for late for parade.

On 7 July 1917, Hercul Bureau was admitted to hospital with a severe bayonet wound in his left thigh. The battalion War Diary reports seven casualties that day, one killed and six wounded, the result of a German raid on the front trenches.

But Hercul's performance was clearly not always such to keep him in the Sergeant Major's crap list. On 7 November, 1917, the entry was made in his service record that he had been awarded the Military medal in the field. Private Hercul Bureau was not just the recipient of the Military Medal, he was actually awarded the Military Medal and Bar, which means he was decorated twice for bravery, each time being the deserving recipient of the Military Medal. The Bar to his Military Medal was recorded in his service record on 26 August 1919, catching up to him long after the end of the War as the backlog of paperwork and recommendations for awards were being cleared away.

In addition to his awards for bravery, Bureau's abilities as a soldier were clearly supported in his appointment as an Acting Corporal in October 1918 and the promotion to substantive rank in January 1919.

After the War, Bureau remained overseas with the CEF. This, unfortunately, led to his worst offences. His service records records the details of 5 August 1919:

"Joining in mutiny in His Majesty's Forces in that he, at South Camp, Ripon, on 17th of June joined in a mutiny by combining with soldiers of 23 Reserve Battalion to obstructing a fire picket in the execution of their duties in case of fire in Camp and to loot a canteen and maliciously to destroy public property namely building in said camp by fire and otherwise and to release by violent means prisoners lawfully confined in the guard room of said Battalion."

The result of Bureau's participation in the mutiny are also recorded:

"Tried by District Court Martial at Ripon 5 August 1919, and sentenced to be Reduced to [the] Ranks and two years Hard Labour, and discharged with ignominy from His Majesty's Service. In arrest 17 June 1919. Sentenced 5 August 1919. Confirmed 7 August 1919. Promulgated 8 August 1919."

On 12 September, 1919, Hercul Bureau's service record notes that the remaining portion of his sentence would be remitted on his discharge with ignominy. This was effected with his return to Canada in December, 1919.

If you only heard the story of Bureau's battlefield valour, you might call him a hero. But if you only heard the story of his role in a mutiny, you might call him a reprobate. Each soldier of the Canadian Expeditionary Force has a story. Each of these stories is worthy of being researched and brought back to light, and the work being done at Library and Archives Canada is enabling researchers to do this much more easily than ever before. Rediscovering the stories of soldiers like Hercul Bureau, both hero and reprobate, emphasizes that each soldier was as complex an individual as we like to perceive ourselves, and simplistic labels do not capture the depth of their characters.

Researching Canadian Soldiers of the First World War

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Updated: Thursday, 11 June 2015 6:23 PM EDT
Friday, 3 April 2015

The South African Medal
Topic: Medals

The South African Medal

Canadian Infantry to Get Four Clasps

The Sherbrooke Examiner; 17 April 1901

In connection with the army order issued by the War Office on April 2, confirming the order of her late Majesty, that a medal be struck commemorating the military operations in South Africa. General order have dealt pretty fully with the detail; according to the regulations, Canadian infantry will receive four clasps:

  • "Cape Colony",
  • "Paardeberg",
  • "Driefontein," and
  • "Johannesburg."

"D" Battery men will receive three clasps:

  • "Cape Colony",
  • "Orange Free State," and
  • "Belfast."

The mounted infantry and Royal Canadian Dragoons will receive clasps for:

  • "Johannesburg",
  • "Diamond Hill",
  • "Cape Colony", and
  • "Orange Free State."

The Royal Canadian Dragoons will receive their "Belfast" clasp.

Canadian Army Battle Honours

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Updated: Friday, 3 April 2015 12:04 AM EDT
Tuesday, 13 January 2015

Medal Sales; it's easy to be critical
Topic: Medals

Medal Sales; it's easy to be critical

I was reading a post on facebook not long ago where someone on a soldiers' memorial site posted a link to an auction for the medals and Memorial Cross to a Canadian airman who died during the Second World War. As often happens, this was followed by a post stating that they "should NOT be for sale. Whoever currently owns these should do everything possible to locate a family member of the deceased and return the medals free of charge," and another that this sale was "Inconceivable …", and that it was "disgusting making money off of them."

In balance, other posters held more moderate views. These posted comments such as "if they are for sale then someone in the family did not want them. It may be better to have them in the hands of a collector who will treasure them more. Later they may end up back with the family or in a museum."

It's easy to be critical of someone else's actions. Offering criticism, either directly or by "innocently" suggesting what "should" be done, costs nothing. One doesn't have to open their wallet to offer criticism. One doesn't have to do anything to offer criticism. Yet by offering such remarks, they portray themselves as speaking from a position of moral superiority, their beliefs being reinforced by comments of agreement from others.

For those who would be critical and feel they need to declare what the seller should be doing instead, I would (and did) offer the following advice:

"If anyone thinks that efforts should be made to find the families connected to medals that are for sale, and believe that the price involved should be sacrificed by the current owner, then feel free to buy them with your own money and conduct that search for the family. Just remember that these medals, in nearly every case, were sold by family members in the first place (and not all to buy bread during the Depression years), so do not be surprised if you later see them somewhere for sale again. Not all families and not all individuals share the same feelings for the historic and sentimental value of these medals as you might. A few would happily take them graciously with one hand and sell them the following week with the other. And if you find several competing "claims" for a free gift of medals from you, how will you choose which descendant, or distant relative in the case of no direct offspring, will you give them to?

In a not unfamiliar trend, comments on the post continued in the vein that the choice of a family member to sell medals was a foreign concept. At face value, this is a well supported sentiment by those who might frequent a Facebook page commemorating soldiers, but it also fails to acknowledge that other views are possible, and equally supportable by those who hold them.

In commenting on this view, I added:

"It's not hard to imagine at all. Some people just don't feel the same way about parts (or any, for some) of their family history. Searches on ebay for "my father's medals" or "my grandfather's medal" will occasionally turn up auctions where the sellers are completely open about passing them along that way. It's also not hard to imagine someone having a father's or grandfather's medals, only to associate them with the pain he might have suffered from injuries seen or unseen. Those medals, for some, may be reminders, not of pride and honour but of pain and suffering, and they want to remove that reminder from their lives. Who are we to determine what justification someone needs to keep medals, or what reasons might be appropriate for medals to be sold by a family member. Many people talk about the freedoms soldiers have protected for us, one of those might be considered the freedom to choose what to do with personal property. Sentimental value, for that is what we are discussing, is a personal choice, not something to be directed, or expected of others.

It's easy to suggest that others should share one's own feelings about medals, or anything else one chooses. Social media sites, like facebook, provide a perfect platform where those of like mind continue to reinforce each others' opinions. But, as a popular book and television series states "words are wind," and leave as little impression once they are past. For those who would decry the sale of medals, and vilify the dealers and collectors, I would ask this:—

"Why aren't you buying them and donating them to museums, or returning them to families? It costs nothing to suggest they should be donated, but is that sentiment strong enough to be worth your money to put into action? Are you ready to put your money where your mouth is?"

I have yet to see any grass roots movement to acquire medals to donate them to museums. Perhaps it is because some of those who might do so realize that medals in museums are often lost to public view, the space and money to display them being unavailable. Perhaps some actually realize that collectors do more to preserve and promote the history behind these medals them many museums are able to do. And perhaps some realize that dealers and collectors are willing to back their commitment to preserving history with time, energy and their own hard-earned money.

It's easy to criticize the selling of medals when you offer nothing but words.

I, for one, will continue to collect medals, to research the soldiers that were awarded them, and to add to my regiment's understanding of their service.

For those who would spend their time criticizing my hobby, perhaps you need one of your own.

Researching Canadian Soldiers of the First World War

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EST
Updated: Wednesday, 14 January 2015 12:13 AM EST
Wednesday, 12 November 2014

Medals Just Waiting For Their Owners
Topic: Medals

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.

Medals Boycotted

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.

Canadian Army Battle Honours

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EST
Monday, 17 March 2014

Priority on New Medal Ribbons (1945)
Topic: 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

First Priority on New Ribbons Given Soldiers Heading Home; Theatre Entry All That's Needed

The Maple Leaf; 18 July 1945

London—First priority on the issue of the new campaign stars, just authorized for the Canadian forces, will go to personnel proceeding to Canada for employment with the Pacific force, repatriation or discharge personnel.

This policy is due, in some degree, to the fact that the material for the new ribbons is in short supply for the time being. For instance, stocks now in hand at CRU in England would provide for distribution, in accordance with the authorized scale of 1 ¼ inches per medal, of 13,000 of the 1939-45 Stars, 28,000 Italy Stars and 56,000 France and Germany Stars. However, as the stocks are issued to formations in bulk, experience has shown the numbers actually supplied would be considerably reduced and would be reduced even further if issues of more than one ribbon to any individuals were made. It should be noted that these figures are for UK releases only and do not include issues to First Canadian Army which are to be made to the extent possible from these supplies of ribbon provided to it on the continent. Even there they have such a small supply, as yet, that the issue must be controlled and is being made only to those proceeding to the UK for onward movement to Canada.

Canadian Military Headquarters has been advised from Canada that supplies of ribbon for the 1939-45 Star, Italy Star and France and Germany Star will not be available in bulk from there until September.

Order of Precedence

The new decorations take precedence over the Canadian Volunteer Service medal and are to be worn in the following order: 1939-45 Star, Atlantic Star, Air Crew Europe Star, Africa Star, Pacific Star, Burma Star, Italy Star, France and Germany Star, Defence Medal.

Eligible to wear the decorations subject to the proper qualifications are all officers and other ranks, male and female, of the Canadian Armed Forces, and Canadians of both sexes who are officers of other ranks in the armed forces of the United Kingdom, Colonies or any part of the British Commonwealth. Also eligible will be accredited Canadian war Correspondents, members of the Canadian Red Cross, St Johns Ambulance Society and voluntary aid detachments serving in theatres of operation provided they are fulltime uniformed workers.

To qualify for an award of the 1949-45 Star an individual must have an aggregate of six months (180 days) operational service in the army or two months (60 days) in the RCAF. Exceptions to this rule are made for those who took part in the Dieppe, Sicily or Spitzbergen operations, for those who won an honor, decoration or mention for service in an operational Theatre, and those who died on service or were evacuated as a result of wounds or sickness arising out of service.

Generally speaking, a man must first qualify for the 1939-45 Star before becoming eligible for the Pacific, Burma, Italy or France and Germany Stars. After this qualification of six months operational service, with the exceptions noted above, he becomes immediately eligible for the other awards. However, those whose only operational service has been in Italy or Northwest Europe during the last six months of operations there, could not give the required six months service for the 1939-45 Star, and thus could not qualify for the Italy or France and Germany Stars.

This would mean they would have no star to show they had served in Italy or Northwest Europe. To meet these circumstances individuals who entered in to operational service in Italy or France, etc., during the last six months of the campaign in Europe, and by May 8, 1945, had not aggregated six months operational service, will qualify only for Italy or France and Germany Star.

For the Atlantic Star, qualifications for Canadians are the same as for the Royal navy which stipulate 180 days service afloat in home waters, North Atlantic, South Atlantic, or with convoys to North Russia. RCAF air crew will be eligible if they have taken part in operations against the enemy at sea within the areas qualifying naval personnel.

The Air Crew Europe Star, instituted for Operations flying over Europe and the United Kingdom, calls for a time qualification of 61 days service in air crew so employed between September 3, 1939, and June 5, 1944.

As the Africa Star which now may be worn along with the 1939-45 Star, will be granted for service in North Africa from the date of entry of Italy into the war on June 10, 1940, up to the date of cessation of operations against the enemy in North Africa May 12, 1943.

The Pacific Star is for operational service in the Pacific Theatre. Canadians who served in Hong Kong in December, 1941, will qualify for this award. The Burma Star goes for operational service in the Burma campaign which is still proceeding.

The Italy Star has been instituted for entry into operational service on land in Italy or Sicily at any time during the campaign there from the capture of Pantellaria on June 11, 1943, to May 8, 1945.

Entry into Area

The France and Germany Star has been instituted for service in France, Belgium, Holland or Germany and to qualify for this star an individual must have entered one of these countries on operational service between June 6, 1944, and May 8, 1945.

The Defence Medal, as far as Canadians are largely concerned, will be granted to those with one year non-operational service in Britain. If service was with mine and bomb disposal units of the forces then the time qualification is three months.

All Ranks who consider themselves eligible for any of the new awards will make application for authority to wear the appropriate ribbons on a form supplied. Following certification by the OC of the unit of the accuracy of the claims made, entitlement will be published in unit Part II Orders which will then be the authority to wear the ribbons.

Canadian Army Battle Honours

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Friday, 28 February 2014

Why no Normandy Clasp?
Topic: Medals
1939-1945 Star Italy Star France and Germany Star Defence Medal Canadian Volunteer Servce Medal 1939-1945 War Medal
Awarded for six months service on active operations for the Army and Navy and two months for active air-crew service. Awarded for one day operational service in Sicily or Italy between 11 Jun 1943 and 8 May 1945. Awarded for one day or more of service in France, Belgium, Holland or Germany between 6 Jun 1944 (D-Day) and 8 May 1945. Usually awarded to Canadians for six months service in Britain between 3 Sep 1939 and 8 May 1945. Granted to persons of any rank in the Naval, Military or Air Forces of Canada who have voluntarily served on Active Service. Awarded to all full-time personnel of the Armed Forces and Merchant Marines for serving for 28 days between 3 Sep 1939 and 2 Sep 1945.

Why no Normandy Clasp?

There are always those soldiers who want their service to be distinctly recognized, or to ensure they receive as many identifiably separate awards for their service as they see others receiving. The following letter, published in the Second World War Canadian Army newspaper The Maple Leaf in 1945, shows that this is not a new consideration.


The Maple Leaf; 18 July 1945

Editor, The Maple Leaf:

A lot of discussions have been going on here over the awarding of Campaign Stars, and everyone seems agreed on one point. Why is there no recognition of service in the Normandy Campaign? First and Fifth Divisions, quite deservedly, receive the Italy Star for their wonderful work in that country, and they receive the France and Germany Star for their part of the fighting in NW Europe. We all agree that they should receive the France and Germany Star, but we also think that there should be some recognition for the Normandy action which was part of the NW European fighting. Why not a clasp on the campaign ribbon for all those who were in the Normandy beachhead battles. This would put us more on par with the other two Divisions, and would be greatly appreciated by all those who saw action in France.


Sgt T.G. Lynch

elipsis graphic

The Frontenac Times

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EST
Friday, 21 February 2014

Sgt.-Maj McKenzie and Drummer Flinn
Topic: Medals

The Victoria Cross

The Daily Sun; St John, N.B.; 16 July 1892

The Case of Drummer Flinn —
Sergt.-Major McKenzie's Many Engagements

To the Editor of the Sun:

Sir—In the Fredericton Farmer of a late date there was published an item headed "Hero and Pauper," relating to Drummer Thomas Flinn, late of the 64th Regiment, and with reference to that item a Farmer reporter interviewed Sergt. Major McKenzie who served in that regiment, as to Flinn's heroism. In the life of Lieut.-General Sir James Outram, which I received from the legislative library, published by Major-General Sir F.J. Goldsmid, I find in a memoir in the Times of India, the following" His thoughts of and core for the soldiers, says one of his staff, was such as is not often felt by generals for their men. He had with him during the Persian campaign an orderly bugler, Thomas McKenzie, of the 64th. On the line of march, I have seen him looking down and say, 'McKenzie, you are not smoking,' 'No, sir,' would be the answer, 'I have no tobacco.' The general's cheroot case was at once at the bugler's disposal, and he would stop his horse and from his own cheroot give a light to McKenzie."

I have interviewed the sergeant major on this matter and he tells me the like often occurred, and in answer to questions the sergeant major tells me he was talking to Sir Henry M. Havelock Allen's servant on board the steamer Scindian, on the river Karoon, en route to Mohammerab, Persia, when the servant was struck with a round shot from the enemy's battery, about four hundred yards distant, and Sir James Outram was saved by being shot by a hookah (pipe) a friend of his was smoking on the same boat. The general's cool remark was, "they have out your pipe out."

Do you remember Sergt. Major, the night attack at Kooshab of Sir James falling and his horse rolling over him at that place which I also find in his life? "Yes, I remember the circumstance well. Fir when he fell, I immediately dismounted and out him in a doolah and remained bathing his head with water for about four hours until he was able to take command of the forces. For that service Sir James presented me with a silver watch and gold chain, and told me he would recommend me for the Victoria Cross, and he remarks, 'You saved my life at Kooshab.' "

Why did you not get the Victoria Cross? "After the Persian campaign our regiment was ordered home to Kurrachee, Bombay Presidency, but in place of going direct home the mutiny in Bengal Presidency had just broken out, and our regiment was ordered there and did not return to Kurrachee for two years afterwards, or until the Indian mutiny was over. If the regiment had returned to Kurrachee I would have been then recommended for the Victoria Cross, for several officers, as well as that commander of our regiment, knew of my action; but during the Indian mutiny we lost nearly all the regiment, as history tells, at Cawnpore and other places. I may further say regarding the Victoria Cross, the last time I saw Sir James was the day we buried Sir Henry Havelock at Alumbah, near Lucknow, when he again told me I would receive the award, but shortly after the mutiny our regiment was ordered home to England. Still, I may further say, regarding this medal for valour during war, that Sir James called to see me in Dover, England, but I was on furlough at the time and in my absence he stated to the officer, then commanding my regiment, I was entitled to the Victoria Cross. Unfortunately for me I was not there. A few days after I returned from furlough I volunteered (Trent affair, 1861) to Canada. Still after I arrived in New Brunswick I expected to receive the Victoria Cross, and after sufficient time elapsed I wrote to the officer commanding my regiment, but received no reply. In 1863 I wrote to Sir James on the matter, but my letter was returned with a note informing me that Sir James had lately died. I may say that I am still expecting to receive the Victoria Cross, for at present I am corresponding on the matter with the authorities in England."

You must have seen hard times during your service. How many actions have you been in and have you ever been wounded? "I have been in twenty-three general engagements, but have never been wounded. I took a rifle to fire a few shots at Kooshab in Persia, and was loading as a rear rank man, kneeling position, when the right heel of my boot was show off, which I did not know about until I raised to move on. Although I had seen many fall this was the nearest to myself during the many battles I was present at.

[signed] Militiaman. Sussex, N.B., July 7th

[In connection with the above it may be mentioned that Sergt. Major Mckenzie resided in this city [St John] for several years previous to his transfer to Fredericton. During his residence here he was captain and adjutant of the 62nd battalion as well as drill inspector.]

The article from the Farmer referred to is:

Arthur Hancock, late of the Canadian Royal Military School, deserves the thanks of every justice-loving Canadian and Britisher, for his letter which appears in an English paper under the heading of A Hero and a Pauper. The Farmer believes that it is possible, to save the hero referred to from the fate which threatens him. The letter is as follows:

The Victoria Cross

Drummer Thomas Flinn

Date of Act of Bravery, 28th November, 1857

For conspicuous gallantry, in the charge on the Enemy's guns on the 28th November, 1857, when, being himself wounded, he engaged in a hand to hand encounter two of the Rebel Artillerymen. - The London Gazette: no. 22248. p. 1483. 12 April 1859.

Lieutenant Henry Marshman Havelock, 10th Regiment

'In the combat at Cawnpore, Lieutenant Havelock was my Aide-de-camp. The 64th Regiment had been much under artillery fire, from which it had severely suffered. The whole of the infantry were lying down in line, when, perceiving that the enemy had brought out the last reserved gun, a 24-pounder, and were rallying round it, I called up the regiment to rise and advance. Without any other word from me, Lieutenant Havelock placed himself on his horse, in front of the centre of the 64th,oppositethe muzzleofthegun.MajorStirling,com- mandingtheregiment, was in front, dismounted, but the Lieutenant continued to move steadily on in front of the regiment at a foot pace, on his horse. The gun discharged shot until the troops were with in a short distance, when they fired grape. In went the corps, led by the Lieutenant, who still steered steadily on the gun's muzzle until it was mastered by a rush of the 64th.' (Extract of a telegram from the late Major-General Sir Henry Havelock to the Commander-in-Cheif in India, dated Cawnpore, August 18th, 1857.)

"The interesting research into the present whereabouts and of former services of the heroes decorated with the Victoria Cross has resulted in the discovery of the only holder of that medal who is ending his days in the workhouse. Drummer Thomas Flinn, late 64th regiment, is the only member of that regiment who has received a medal 'For valor,' and wears also the medals for 'Persia' and 'India.' he served in Persia, and afterwards, during the mutiny, being present, among other stirring events, at Cawnpore and Lucknow under Outram and Havelock. At Cawnpore he was one of the regiment commanded by Major Stirling and nobly led by Lieutenant H. Havelock, A.D.C., when on November 28th, 1857, they charged the rebel guns. Infantry charging guns was perhaps unheard of, but such men, so led, could do anything. Flinn, wounded in the charge, engaged to artillerymen at a gun, killed them and took the gun. Lieutenant Havelock (now Sir H. Havelock-Allen) and Flinn both received the Victoria Cross. Flinn is now, and has been for some years in Athlone workhouse—old, ill, and with but a few years to look forward to. General Havelock, in his address to the army said: 'Soldiers, your labours, your privations, your sufferings and your valour will never be forgotten by a grateful country;' yet Flinn, one of the bravest where all were courageous, has been forgotten (even his £10 a year is confiscated by the guardians), and presents a notable object lesson in national ingratitude. Surely someone, including the regiment he so distinguished, will do something for him, before—all too soon—the last words are told that one of Britain's "bravest brave" has been consigned to the grave of a pauper whom nobody owns. Little would save him from this sad fate, and the press may do what a cold officialdom denies."

Knowing that Sergt. Major McKenzie of the Infantry School Corps here has done duty at Cawnpore, Lucknow and elsewhere, the Farmer interviewed him in reference to the great deed performed by the herp refered to above. The sergt. major declined to speak of any achievement of his own in any of the great battles in which he figured, although those who know his record say that none who ever wore the Victoria Cross better deserved it than the same Sergt. Major McKenzie. Speaking of Flinn's heroism. the sergt. major said to the Farmer" 'I have seen a copy of the letter to which you refer. It was sent to me only the other day by Lieut. Col. Morris, who is now an inspector of the Northwest Mounted Police at Fort MacLeod. I well remember Flinn's heroism, although it is 35 years since the event which called it forth happened. Two of,1572648the great rebel guns were causing great destruction among our forces which were led by Gen. Havelock. I was then a sergeant and on Gen. Havelock's staff as field bugler. I heard the general say to his son, then his A.D.C. And now Sir H.M. Havelock-Allen, 'Go and tell the 64th to spike those two guns of the enemy.' Young Havelock did not, as he might have done, transfer the order to Major Stirling, but as quickly as a flash, led a company of the 64th out in face of the terrible danger, and Flinn won glory for himself, his regiment and his country by killing two artillerymen at one of the guns as the about applying the port fire to fire the gun, which if done would have meant disaster to Lieut. Havelock, Flinn and the other of the company of the 64th. The deed was regarded at the time as one of the most daring in the history of great battles of the world.

Whatever we may say about the bluster of the United States, one thing is greatly to their credit. They look after their heroes. In this respect Canada and England might learn a wholesome lesson.

The case of Flinn is one worthy of the attention of the British government, and the Farmer sincerely hopes that Arthur Hancock may be covered in glory for having called attention to it.

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EST
Saturday, 1 February 2014

On Honours and Rewards
Topic: Medals

On Honours and Rewards

A General's Letters to His Son on Obtaining a Commission
By: Major-General Thomas David Pilcher, CB
Published anonymously, 1917

Maj-Gen Thomas David PILCHER

Service biography

Joined 5 Fusiliers 1879; Northumberland Fusiliers 1881-1897; West African Frontier Force 1897-1899; operations on the Niger 1897-1898; Commander, 2 Bedfordshire Regt 1899; South African War 1899-1902; Commander, 3 Mounted Infantry Regt 1900-1902; Commander, 3 Bde, 2 Div, Aldershot 1904-1907; Commander, Bangalore Bde, India 1907-1908; Commander, Sirhind Bde, India 1908-1912; Commander, Burma Div, Southern Army, India 1912-1914; World War I 1914-1918; Inspector of Infantry 1914; Commander, 17 Div, British Expeditionary Force (BEF), England and France 1915-1916; Commandant, Eastern Reserve Centre, St Albans 1916; retired 1919

February 1st, 1917.

My dear Dick,

You tell me that your friend Jack has received the Military Cross, and that although he is a good fellow and undoubtedly merited it, Ronald, who deserved a decoration twice as much, did not even receive a mention in dispatches. Except in that it will give great pleasure to his relations, I don't suppose that Jack is much happier than Ronald, if the latter is the man I believe him to be. He knows that he has done his duty, and he further knows that his friends are aware of it. Had he also gained a Military Cross, this Military Cross would not, to the outer world, be distinguishable from any other which had not been so deserved.

You also remark that farther seems that the it you are away from the firing line the more chance you have of being decorated, and that you hear that junior officers and men in the trenches resent the same decorations, which have been issued to them at the rate of about one to every twenty or thirty casualties, being distributed with a proportionately freer hand to others who have never got much farther than the base. You must remember that the work for which these men have been rewarded is, as a rule, more important for the general well-being of the force than the work of individual men in the trenches and that this work, as a rule, requires special qualifications. Moreover, many of men who do not succeed in getting farther than the base would give their the eyes to be in the firing line, though I admit this is not always the case. Nevertheless, I agree with you that it would be much more popular amongst officers and men in fighting formations if some other distinctions besides the V.C. could be reserved for work done in the face of the enemy. I wish also it possible to give every could be found man who passed one hundred nights some actually in the trenches badge of honour. In order to be a hundred nights in the distinctive trenches, the Division to which the in question have been at man belonged would, as a rule, least seven or eight months in the line whilst he was present with it, and this means something.

But, after all, what do these decorations really matter? Is it a greater satisfaction to a man to own a little know piece of silver or bronze than know that he has done his duty to the best of his ability? Do you remember the extract from the diary of the German soldier, which appeared in one of our papers, and read as follows?—

  • Monday. It rained heavily, and our Lieut. Müller was drunk.
  • Tuesday. The English shelled us, and our Lieut. Müller was very drunk.
  • Wednesday. The English shelled us more and our Lieut. Muller was drunk heavily, and incapable. Thursday. We were ordered to attack. Our Lieut. Müller called out to us from his dug-out to advance more rapidly.
  • Friday. Nil
  • Saturday. Nil.
  • Sunday. Our Lieut. Müller received the Iron Cross.

The fact it that he had so thoroughly deserved it no doubt very much added to the value of "our Lieut. Müller's" decoration.

It is significant that those decorations which are most prized are usually those of the least intrinsic value. The bay leaf cost even less than the Victoria Cross. What becomes of decorations , to obtain which has been some men's highest ambition

A friend of mine, who takes a great interest in everything connected with the history of the British Army, has made a collection of medals and now has many thousands. Nearly all of them had been in the hands of pawnbrokers before they found their way to him, although many them of are inscribed with illustrious names.

The following story of the German Emperor was told me by a highly placed German officer who knew him well. The old Emperor could always be distinguished from his Staff by the fact that he wore no decoration except the Iron Cross. This simplicity, however, did not suit the gaudy taste of the present Kaiser, and he very much envied the right to wear a certain handsome aiguillette which was worn by nobody but the Emperor's personal Staff, and he objected to being the only plainly dressed man among a glittering assembly. The order decreeing that this aiguillette was only to be worn by the Staff was an ancient one, with which he did not like to tamper, but he was not to be beaten, and on the anniversary of the birthday of the old Emperor, in honour, as he decreed, of the memory of his grandfather, he appointed himself and all his direct descendants in the Crown of Prussia as Aides-de-Camp to the dead Emperor, and from that day he has worn the aiguillette. I mention these incidents to show how valueless an Iron Cross, how ephemeral a medal conferring honour on a family, or how ludicrous the acquisition of a decoration may be. The only reward really worth having is the knowledge that you have done your duty, and whether your work be recognised, or whether you be blamed and others get the credit for what you have done, should not worry you as long as you have this knowledge in your heart. Your motive must be to do the best you can for your country and not to play to the gallery in order to obtain a reward. Do not give way to selfish vanity; it is not the acquisition of honours and rewards, but the abnegation of self that has wrought out all that is noble, all that is good, and nearly all that is useful in the world.

The man who does work which comes under the eye of those in high position is likely to receive a decoration, The man. who, day after day, and night after night, works unremittingly under shell fire in the trenches, waist-high in water, is much more likely to get a bullet than a mention, but he may have got farther through that mill about which I was talking, and through which all the corn has to go before it becomes flour, and he may have learnt and acquired things worth more than decorations. Again, do you think success has made those of your friends to whose lot has fallen to obtain it pleasanter men to meet? Is it not true that the only men who are not spoilt by it are those who do not care one straw about it? How many of these do you know?

Your affectionate father,

"X. Y. Z."

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EST
Updated: Wednesday, 26 February 2014 6:27 PM EST
Monday, 30 December 2013

Rene Jalbert, Cross of Valour
Topic: Medals

René Jalbert, Sergeant-at-Arms at the Quebec National Assembly

The Canada Gazette, No. 29, Vol. 118
Part I

Ottawa, Saturday, July 21, 1984

Government House

Canadian Bravery Decorations

The Governor General, the Right Honourable JEANNE SAUVÉ, on the recommendation of the Canadian Decorations Advisory Committee, has awarded bravery decorations as follows:

Cross of Valour


In a rare display of coolheadedness and courage, René Jalbert, Sergeant-at-Arms at the Quebec National Assembly, subdued a man who had killed three people and wounded thirteen more on the morning of 8 May 1984.

The man had entered a side door of the National Assembly building and immediately opened fire with a submachine-gun; moments later, be climbed the main staircase toward the assembly chamber, known as the Blue Room, shooting repeatedly, and then burst into the chamber. As bullets peppered the wall, Mr . Jalbert entered the Blue Room and with icy calm convinced the man to allow several employees to leave the premises. Then be invited the heavily armed man into his downstairs office, in effect setting himself up as hostage while removing the man from the scene. At extreme personal risk, but with unflinching authority, Mr. Jalbert spent four hours persuading the man to surrender to police. The audacity of this retired Major of The Royal 22nd Regiment, a Second World War and Korean War veteran, almost certainly prevented a higher death toll.

Canadian Bravery Decorations
Regulation, 1996

Cross of Valour

(1)     The Cross of Valour shall be awarded for acts of the most conspicuous courage in circumstances of extreme peril.

(2)     The Cross of Valour shall consist of a gold cross of four equal limbs, as follows:

(a)     the obverse shall be enamelled red and edged in gold with, superimposed in the centre, a gold maple leaf surrounded by a gold wreath of laurel; and

(b)     on the reverse, the Royal Cipher and Crown and the words VALOUR - VAILLANCE shall appear.

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EST
Updated: Saturday, 14 December 2013 5:28 PM EST
Monday, 23 December 2013

Lord Ashcroft's VCs
Topic: Medals

Lord Ashcroft's VCs

The Victoria Cross (VC) collection assembled by Lord Ashcroft went live on line on 11 Nov 2013.

Situated at the Imperial War Museum London, the Extraordinary Heroes exhibition containing Lord Ashcroft's unrivalled collection of Victoria Crosses is the largest in the world.

Among the Ashcroft collection reside four Canadian Victoria Crosses:

For further information on the Extraordinary Heroes exhibition at the Lord Ashcroft Gallery visit:

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EST
Updated: Saturday, 14 December 2013 5:24 PM EST
Friday, 20 December 2013

The Albert Medal
Topic: Medals

The Albert Medal
Awards to Canadians in the Great War

The Albert Medal was authorized by her Majesty Queen Victoria on 12 March, 1866, and published in the London Gazette the following day. Named for the Queen's late husband, the Albert Medal was originally instituted to reward those who:

"…have, in saving, or endeavouring to save, the lives of others from shipwreck or other peril of the sea, endangered their own lives; and that such award shall be made only on a recommendation to Us by the President of the Board of Trade."

Undergoing a series of amenedments, the Albert Medal was later awarded in two classes, and life-saving acts on land became eligible. As a result, two Canadian soldiers serving overseas during the First World War received the ALbert Medal.

Corporal Percy Fairborn Annis

The Edinburgh Gazette, January 8, 1918

Whitehall, January 1, 1918.

The KING has been graciously pleased to award the Decoration of the Albert Medal to the undermentioned Officers and Non-Commissioned Officers of His Majesty's Forces serving in France or elsewhere in recognition of their gallantry in saving life:—

Corporal Percy Fairborn Annis, Canadian Infantry.

On the 23rd December 1915 Annis was instructing a class in the use of the trench catapult, when a lighted bomb fell from the catapult into the trench. Annis at once picked up the bomb and threw it away.

On the 11th February 1916, on a similar occasion, the catapult failed to act properly, with the result that the bomb was thrown only a short distance, and fell close to another party under instruction. Annis at once ran out to pick up the bomb. The bomb exploded just as he reached it and wounded him.

Sergeant Victor Brooks

The Edinburgh Gazette, November 12, 1918.

Whitehall, 6th November 1918.

The KING, has been, pleased to award the Albert Medal to Lieutenant-Colonel (Temporary Brigadier-General) Alfred Burt, D.S.O., and Sergeant Victor Brooks, Canadian Cavalry Field Ambulance; and (posthumous awards), to Private Arthur Johnson and Driver Alfred Horn, late of the Army Service Corps, in recognition of their gallantry in saving or endeavouring to save life in France in June last. The circumstances are as follows:—

On the 30th June 1918 a Corporal of the Royal Air Force, who had been lowered by a rope into a crater caused by a bomb which had been dropped by a hostile aeroplane, was overcome by carbon monoxide gas, which had accumulated in large quantities in the crater. Endeavours were made to haul him out, but his head became caught, and Private Johnson volunteered to descend and re-adjust the rope, which he did successfully, and the Corporal was rescued, but Johnson was him- self overcome. Driver Horn at once put on his respirator and lowered himself to the rescue, but was likewise overcome. Sergeant Brooks then volunteered to attempt to rescue both men, but was also overcome by the gas; fortunately he was hauled out. At this stage, Brigadier General Burt refused to permit anyone else to descend, but did so himself, and succeeded in dragging one of the unconscious men some way towards the rope; he, however, became unconscious and had to be pulled out. There can be no doubt that all knew the risk that they were running, and willingly incurred it in the hope of saving life.

Researching Canadian Soldiers of the First World War

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EST
Tuesday, 10 December 2013

Rorke's Drift Victoria Cross Citations
Topic: Medals

Rorke's Drift Victoria Cross Citations

For their gallant conduct at the defence of Rorke's Drift, …

Anyone who has watched the movie Zulu knows the story of the battle at Rorke's Drift. On 22-23 January, 1879, a small force of about 150 British soldiers, most of them of the 2nd Battalion, 24th (2nd Warwickshire) Regiment of Foot, held off a force of over 4000 Zulu warriors.

Eleven Victoria Crosses were awarded for actions at Rorke's Drift. Of these, seven went to soldiers of the 24th Regiment, one to the Royal Engineers, one to the Army Medical Department, one to the Commissariat and Transport Department and one to the Natal Native Contingent.

The text below, from the London Gazette of 2 May 1879, provides an early published description of these actions for the infantry and engineer recommendations.

Supplement to the London Gazette

War Office, May 2, 1879.

The Queen has been graciously pleased to signify Her intention to confer the decoration of the Victoria Cross on the undermentioned Officers and Soldiers of Her Majesty's Army, whose claims have been submitted for Her Majesty's approval, for their gallant conduct in the defence of Rorke's Drift, on the occasion of the attack by the Zulus, as recorded against their names, viz.:—

RegimentNamesActs of Courage for which recommended
Royal EngineersLieutenant (now Captain and Brevet Major) J.R.M. Chard

For their gallant conduct at the defence of Rorke's Drift, on the occasion of the attack by the Zulus on the 22nd and 23rd January, 1879.

The Lieutenant-General commanding the troops reports that, had it not been for the fine example and excellent behaviour of these two Officers under the most trying circumstances, the defence of Rorke's Drift post would not have been conducted with that intelligence and tenacity which so essentially characterised it.

The Lieutenant-General adds, that its success must, in a great degree, be attributable to the two young Officers who exercised the Chief Command on the occasion in question.

2nd Battalion 24th RegimentLieutenant (now Captain and Brevet Major) G. Bromhead
2nd Battalion 24th RegimentPrivate John WilliamsPrivate John Williams was posted with Private Joseph Williams, and Private William Horrigan, 1st Battalion 24th Regiment, in a distant room of the hospital, which they held for more than an hour, so long as they had a round of ammunition left: as communication was for the time cut off, the Zulus were enabled to advance and burst open the door ; they dragged out Private Joseph Williams and two of the patients, and assagaied them. Whilst the Zulus were occupied with the slaughter of these men a lull took place, during which Private John Williams, who, with two patients, were the only men now left alive in this ward, succeeded in knocking a hole in the partition, and in taking the two patients into the next ward, where he found Private Hook.
2nd Battalion 24th RegimentPrivate Henry HookThese two men together, one -man working whilst the other fought and held the enemy at bay with his bayonet, broke through three more partitions, and were thus enabled to bring eight patients through a small window into the inner line of defence.
2nd Battalion 24th RegimentPrivate William Jones and Private Robert JonesIn another ward, facing the hill, Private William Jones and Private Robert Jones defended the post to the last, until six out of the seven patients it contained had been removed. The seventh, Sergeant Maxfield, 2nd Battalion 24th Regiment, was delirious from fever. Although they had previously dressed him, they were unable to induce him to move. When Private Robert Jones returned to endeavour to carry him away, he found him being stabbed by the Zulus as he lay on his bed.
2nd Battalion 24th RegimentCorporal William Allen and Private Frederick HitchIt was chiefly due to the courageous conduct of these men that communication with the hospital was kept up at all. Holding together at all costs a most dangerous post, raked in reverse by the enemy's fire from the hill, they were both severely wounded, but their determined conduct enabled the patients to be withdrawn from the hospital, and when incapacitated by their wounds from fighting, they continued, as soon as their wounds had been dressed, to serve out ammunition to their comrades during the night.


Lieutenants Melville and Chard would receive thei Victoria Crosses in 1907, after the rule restricting posthunmous awards was revoked.

Lieutenant Melville, of the 1st Battalion 24th Foot, on account of the gallant efforts made by him to save the Queen's Colour of his Regiment after the disaster at Isandlwanha, and also Lieutenant Coghill, 1st Battalion 24th Foot, on account of his heroic conduct in endeavouring to save his brother officer's life, would have been recommended to Her Majesty for the Victoria Cross had they survived.

For further information:

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EST
Friday, 11 October 2013

Sergeant Spall's Memorial Cross
Topic: Medals

Sergeant Spall's Memorial Cross

The modern cap badge design for the Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry.

The modern cap badge design for the Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry.

Sergeant Robert Spall, VC.

Sergeant Robert Spall, VC.

The First World War cap badge of the Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry.

The First World War cap badge of the Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry.

Recently, the Memorial Cross awarded to the mother of a Canadian Victoria Cross recipient, 475212 Sgt Robert Spall of the Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry, appeared on With a sudden burst of interest, links to the auction quickly appeared in related collecting and history forums, and interest in the Cross was evident by a number of early bids pushing the selling price over $3000 within hours of the sale listing.

While notice of the sale travelled through the internet, and to Sgt Spall's regiment, it was not attended by the sometimes seen round of ill-informed news articles decrying the fact that it was for sale at all, or individuals offering to broker the purchase for interested buyers. But an initiative did grow out of the regimental interest in this Cross.

An iniative on the crowd-funding site was launched with the intent to purchase the cross for donation to the PPCLI regimental museum. $9,401 was raised by 116 people in 6 days.

The auction for Sgt Spall's Memorial Cross ended just before midnight on 9 Oct 2013, the final bid was $8000 Cdn.

Well done to all those who contributed and congratilations to those who engineered this successful plan to place Sgt Spall's Memorial Cross beside his medals.

475212 Sgt Robert Spall, VC

Sgt. Spall was awarded the Victoria Cross for his actions on 13 Aug.1918, near Parvilliers, France.

His Citation reads:

"For most conspicuous bravery and self-sacrifice when, during an enemy counter-attack, his platoon was isolated. Thereupon Sgt. Spall took a Lewis gun and, standing on the parapet, fired upon the advancing enemy, inflicting very severe casualties. He then came down the trench directing the men into a sap seventy-five yards from the enemy. Picking up another Lewis gun, this gallant N.C.O. again climbed the parapet, and by his fire held up the enemy. It was while holding up the enemy at this point that he was killed. Sgt. Spall deliberately gave his life in order to extricate his platoon from a most difficult situation, and it was owing to his bravery that the platoon was saved." — The London Gazette, 26 October 1918

Spall's Attestation Paper and service record, found on the Library and Archives Canada database for Soldiers of the Canadian Expeditionary Force:

The Canadian Virtual War Memorial: Sgt Robert Spall, VC, who died on August 13, 1918

Researching Canadian Soldiers of the First World War

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Updated: Friday, 11 October 2013 12:24 AM EDT

Newer | Latest | Older

The Regimental Rogue.

Follow The Regimental Rogue on facebook.

« September 2016 »
1 2 3
4 5 6 7 8 9 10
11 12 13 14 15 16 17
18 19 20 21 22 23 24
25 26 27 28 29 30
Entries by Topic
All topics
Army Rations
Battle Honours
British Army
Canadian Armed Forces
Canadian Army
Canadian Militia
Cold Steel
Cold War
Drill and Training
European Armies
Forays in Fiction
Martial Music
Medals  «
Military Medical
Military Theory
Pay; the Queen's shilling
Sam Hughes
Soldier Slang
Soldiers' Load
Staff Duties
Stolen Valour
Taking Advantage
The Field of Battle
The RCR Museum
US Armed Forces
Vimy Pilgrimage
Wolseley Barracks

You are not logged in. Log in
Blog Tools
Edit your Blog
Build a Blog
RSS Feed
View Profile