Several mentions have been made in this space about Lt Alonzo Cushing. This Civil War Union Lieutenant was killed at the age of 22 while manning his canon during the famous Pickett's Charge at Gettysburg in July of 1863. While Cushing had no known connection to Canada, several Canadians died in that charge and in the 2 days before in overall Gettsyburg fighting. Of the 50,000 or more Canadians who fought in the CW, parhaps as many as 700 fought at Gettysburg.
The recent news is that for several decades a movement has been afoot to have Cushing awarded the Medal of Honor and The President has recently announced that an award would be made. But the trouble was that since there were no known ligitimate claimants that could come forth...who shoud the medal go to? Days back the net carried a few storries saying that progress is being made and that the US Army will be accepting the medal on Cushing's behalf. A further delay is that before a ceremony takes place, decisions need to be made where the medal will go. Some feel it ought to go to his home area of Delafield Pennsylvania but time will tell.
In bringing this story forth the press has said a number of times that the reason Cushing did not get the medal back in Civil War days was because at that time no medals were awarded to any of the soldiers AFTER they died, ie... posthumously.. But this of course is nonsence except to those who refuse to do any research.. such as some in the media.
There were no less than 32 MOH's awarded posthumously for Civil War actions. Two of these came to the families of John P McVeanne of Toronto Ontario and Denis Buckley of Lindsay Ontario during the days the CW was still being fought. And in both cases the man was the ONLY man in his regiment of perhaps a thousand or more soldiers, that was awarded a Medal of Honor, be they alive or deceased.
The delay in the Cushing award may well be connected to the possible fact that there were no nominations for Cushing to get the medal in the war..or for over 140 years after. His generals of the day had no problem promoted him to the brevet rank of Lt. Colonel on the very day of his death, and recommended that a fellow soldier in who's arms he died in, being promoted to a Lt in the regular US Army. The officers could have chosen to recommend the MOH for both men at the time but all the research I have done seems to show no such recomendation being made. His comrade, at his death was awarded the MOH in the 1990's however.
Nothing above is to suggest however that Cushing is or was not deserving of the medal, simply that the rules of the day were not followed, and the US President thus did not make these awards 150 years ago.
Moving on, a most interesting story appeared on the net a few days ago. But now it is gone. Most curious!!!
It announced that a heroic soldier of Vietnam days had received an interesting letter. It was from Washington DC and announced that he was to call a certain number to make some arrangements. Apparently he too was being awarded the MOH.
But when he called the number he found it out of service. The article says the whole thing was a mistake and that, after making other calls the whole mess was sorted out. It seems the medal was destined for another of the same name. The article also added that all was not lost. He was apparently now being awarded with another medal and also the Purple Heart. Too bad they sent him this incredible blunder and as insulting, why they instead decided that they would take the opportunity to award him two other medals so many years after the fact.
There are probably not a lot of times that over 300 Victoria Cross recipients gathered in one place at the same time. But it happened back in 1957 and on June 26th. There was lots of fanfare at London's Hyde Park and so their should have been. The military were on parade in their finest uniforms and anyone who was anyone was also there to see the sea of Victoria Cross recipients march past as HRH Queen Elizabeth ll and Prince Phillip took the salute.
The occasion was the 100th anniversary of the very day that HRH Queen Victoria presented the first ever Victoria Crosses on the chests of just over 60 men. Other were entitled but duties in far away lands prevented their travel to England. But by order of the Queen very special ceremonies were held around the world in all places the recipients were then serving. One such ceremony took place in Canada and was written about in this space. And back at London, among those 60 and a few more stood the proud cavalryman Lt Alexander Dunn, born at Toronto, and the only officer taking part in the historic Charge of the Light Brigade that would later be awarded the VC.
But moving forward to 1957, at Hyde Park the 300 and more again gathered and did their finest march past once again for royalty. There were more than 2 dozen Canadian recipients on that parade and thank goodness for photographers, an image of the 24 that could make the photo opt, had appeared in this space a number of times. I bring it to you again today. As you read the names below, you will hopefully recall having read stories of many of these Canadians also in this space in the past.
Here is that keepsake historical picture..with the recipients names also included....
More work still needs to be done on his life after the military and as that is done I will update this most interesting story.
Back on Sunday.
Due to the Thanksgiving holiday, the Sunday blog will be posted on Tuesday of next week,
enjoy the holiday
It was long before I got the autographs of over 40 famous famous persons in my little collection. I was in Toronto on it's famous Young Street with a zillion other kids and their parents and it was over 50 years ago. The man has escaped from the Hollywood screen, and was riding up Young in an army jeep and we had all gathered to see him in person. And when he arrived my brother and I took turns waving and shooting at him and he shot back..sort of. His name was Marion Mitchell (Robert) Morrison ... but we just knew him as the Duke. ..with the stage name of course of John Wayne. I didn't get his autograph but I sure got the great keapsake memory of being shot by him, in our own little make believe scene.
Years later I would get another chance meet with another "Wayne" of sort. I was a policeman and on crowd control at an intersection where he was about to do a commercial for one of the big gas companies. The crowds had yet to arrive and he was in his dresser trailer when I sent in a note that I had a warrant for his arrest and that if he could come out I would be most appreciative. I was stunned when he did, sat in the back and thus locking himself in the cruiser. I then asked most sheepishly for his autograph. I thought I'd soon be unemployed by this stupid stunt but he thought it quite cute and obliged. Of course, by that time he was one half of the comedy team, that was the sole act to appear on the internationally known Ed Sullivan show more times than any other act. But he used his adopted name.. Johnny Wayne and his partner of course was Frank Shuster ..bother of the writer and creator of another kind of hero. You might recall him. His name was Superman.
Years later I would learn that my mother, who served in the Canadian Womens Army Corps in WW ll, was involved very early in the war in recruiting, prior to going overseas. . As part of her duties she and a handful of others made a short recruiting film, that was used across North America. And the two university kids from Toronto who did the movie score were two guys named John Wayne and Frank Shuster. The same fellows!
Both men actually joined the Canadian Forces and went off to war and found themselves travelling widely as part of the entertainment of troops both in the war and later in the Korean theatre. At left the two were serving and shown in a skit at one of these shows for the troops. At right they are at Toronto in the early 60's doing another skit involving them having to arrest a fellow named Ed Sullivan. They'd appeared more times on the Sullivan show than any other entertainer... ever.
Over the years I have obtained autographs from Canadian astronaut Robert Bondar, Canadian acting legend Leslie Nielson and comedian Charlie Farguharson (Don Harron of CBC TV fame, and others.
I bring these tidbits to you today while the internet brought you similar stories a few weeks back. The occasion then was the 2014 annual convention of the Congressional Medal of Honor Society at Knoxville Tennessee. And there, no doubt attended were several thousands hoping to get glimpses of Medal of Honor recipients. Hundreds would gave gone through the MOH society's clearances as I did a year earlier to actually meet, speak with and gather autographs from many.
At the above left, retired Colonel Jack Jacobs signs materials presented by a member of the public. Jack was a Lieutenant in Vietnam back in 1968 when his company CO was wounded and he had to assume command. The troops had to move back and en-route he had to go into enemy territory several times to rescue the wounded while himself getting repeatedly wounded and even partially and temporarily blinded during these actions. He was later awarded the Medal of Honor for his heroism, the saving of dozens of lives and dispersing of many of his enemy at the same time.
The image to the right is from a year earlier and shows several of over 500 in 2014 who waited their turn, as did I, to have our group, one of I believe five, to get a turn and entering the room and meeting these heroes. Several in the photo carry the latest book at the time on the heroes that was being sold at the event. The MOH recipient would turn to the page telling his story and sign it for the proud owner. Note also the green dots each attendee is wearing. These are to identify the group of guests he or she belongs to. Each is only allowed a limited time then asked to leave the room to make way for the next group to enter. Last year I was given a blue dot, which I still have as a keepsake.
Many of the MOH men have been quoted telling that it is their duty to appear at these events and others to tell the stories...not of their heroism, which most very much down play, or the glorifying of wars and the hell it involved. They feel it their duty to continue to tell the stories of their fellow men and women who served and continue to serve. And of those that gave their lives during the battle for which the recipient received his award, and yet others that died, and also of those who went missing, were wounded or permanently disabled in those battles and the ones before and after.
These MOH men are often old men. Men in the their 80's and 90's. Men very unstable of the ground and in physical discomfort of one form or another but men who still feel it a duty to be at these events. And we as readers of these blogs and net stories that benefit from the freedoms these men gave us have our own duty to stand in front of them, to salute each and every one of them, to listen intently and then to thank them for their services.
A very moving account on WHY they give autographs is highlighted in the Colonel Jacobs interview at.. http://www.wbir.com/story/news/local/medal-of-honor/2014/09/12/medal-of-honor-autographs/15537029/
Please take the time to visit this site.
Technician Fifth Grade Robert F Maxwell earned his Medal of Honor for bravery in France in WW ll and is shown giving an autograph at left, above. At center is Fist Lieutenant Brian M Thaker, a Vietnam recipient from 1969 giving an autograph, At the right is Staff Sergeant Salvatore Giunta, a recipient from action in Afghanistan in 2007. These three images were taken at the convention at Gettysburg last year, a part of which I was honoured to participate in and bring you many a blog on. Note at bottom right corner of third picture there is a stack of cards that each recipient has with his image and a brief story. Most are autographed and handed out at events such as this convention.
Here are two of the autograph cards I received last year. Note the army Medal of Honor image on the top card and the navy image of the MOH on the lower one signifying the branch of service the recipient was in.
Here are two more of these cards. Three of the four are on the men pictured above.
More next week, See you then.
Pssst... Looking for a guru to be inspired by? Then follow this American Admiral's advice and study a Canadian born hero.
The Americans have erected plaques and monuments across the country to this fellow. They have a major headquarters named after him. They have issued a commemorative coin bearing his image. And a Stamp. They have even named major military vessels in his honor. Service awards and Naval League awards honour him. There is at least one statue commemorating his heroism. And there are lots more reminders. His very grave site has been declared a state historic site. Americans are indeed proud of him.
As we in Canada should also be! He was born in Vancouver BC and you have read about him often in this space. And there will be more on him I trust.
His name of course is Douglas Munro, and a month shy of his 23rd birthday, he gave his life for his adopted country of the US. It was at Point Cruz Guadalcanal in WW ll that he gave his life to help save the marines. One of the battalions of the US 7th Marines had been pinned down on three fronts and were being driven back into the sea when their commander raced to the water's edge to signal a US Ship to fire support shelling to allow them to withdraw. It was then that Douglas, a first class Signalman in the US Coast Guard, came back into action. He had led several "Higgins" workboats onto the landing not long before to land the marines. Now he had to backtrack several times to rescue the 500 men.
The very commander of the Marine unit was none other than "Chesty" Puller, a Lt. Colonel at the time. Thanks to Munro and his team, the commander lived to fight another day, and eventually attained the rank of Lt General. He would become one of the highest medalled heroes of the US Marine Corp.
Munro's men got all the marines off, but at the very end he had to place his vessel between the enemy and one last boat that got hung up in a sand dune of sorts. As it finally was pulled free and escaped he took a shot and was instantly killed. Today, and for many a year every recruit in the US Marines and also the US Coast Guard have been, and I suspect will continue to be required to learn the story of this Canadian born hero.
This is an image of Douglas probably not long before he was killed. He was later posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor for his bravery.
His final actions on September 27 1942 at Guadalcanal are depicted in the above USCG commissioned painting.
That action and his date of death were 72 years ago yesterday!
At the left there is a statue of Douglas Munro in Florida at the Coast Guard's training center were there is also a study hall named after Douglas.
Each year at his grave site in Washington state, at Cape May and elsewhere, ceremonies are conducted in honor of this hero. Yesterday at Cape May, one of the students played Taps at one such ceremony that marked the remembrance of his tragic death 72 year's ago. It is ironic that in the formal service Taps was played. In an earlier blog I had mentioned that when interviewing Douglas' late sister a few years ago she had talked about Douglas being a self taught trumpet player. And he too, often played Taps. He would go to the very cemetery that he now rests at in Cle Elum Washington State, to practice his songs... including Taps. He would say at the time that it was the least he could do for the fallen men and women buried there at the Laurel Hills Cemetery. Above at right, three wreaths are being laid at the foot of the statute.
The Marine Corp honour guard fires a salute to Douglas at one of the annual ceremonies at left. The image at right is a memorial to Douglas that is mounted at the Point Cruz Yacht Club at Guadalcanal.
The top man at the United States Coast Guard is Admiral Paul Zukunft and he obviously has incredible respect for Douglas Munro.
The Admiral has been quoted saying that... "Signalman First Class Douglas Munro epitomized our guiding principles of service to nation, duty to people and commitment for excellence seven decades before we put them down to paper." He would add that... "His selfless and decisive action under fire, gallantry and extraordinary heroism honoured the Coast Guard and saved many Marine Corps brothers in arms. Every Coast Guard man and woman and anyone seeking a profile in inspirational leadership and excellence should study Douglas Munro."
It is sad to say that unfortunately all too many Canadians have never heard of this Canadian.
Please share this and many other stories from this site and extend my invitation for them to visit the site as it is the only place in Canada, and probably the US as well, where they will find much of what appears in this space.
See you next week.
Several mentions in this space have told of the plaque coming to the United States to honor the five US WW l recipients of the Victoria Cross. There is still no news about when it will arrive from England and when it will be unveiled at Arlington National Cemetery or details of any expected ceremony. One of the recipients is the unknown soldier of the Great War. The remaining 4 came north to Canada and served with Canadian Forces when they earned their medals, I have now been able to reach all four regiments the men served under and briefed them of the event. Hopefully they can send a rep to participate. I have also tipped off the Canadian Embassy at DC about the event. As more details become available I will bring more to this space. The above image is of the very plaque en-route to the US and lists the names of these heroes. It is believed that the regiments and the embassy all first heard of this event through contact from this blog.
On another matter, a few days ago I came across a most interesting Medal of Honor link whilst searching related matters. The internet link told the story, like many over past two months, about the bravery back in November of 2010 of US Marine hero Kyle Carpenter. He was serving in Afghanistan as a Corporal and was on the roof of a building when his unit came under heavy fire. A grenade landed between him and one other marine and immediate action was required. All the rest of the men were too far away and so Kyle dived on top of the grenade, saved his comrade.and myraculously was not killed. Wounded from head to foot, flap jacket destroyed, other metal gear melted, helmet riffled with shrapnel, yet Kyle still lived. He'd be in a comma for several weeks and would have to undergo over 40 operations over next few years.
Google his name to see the full story. And check out the video talking about his heroism, his receiving the Medal of Honor in June of this year at the White House and the process recipients go through once selected to receive this highest of highest of awards for bravery. It is a great video and is at... www.whitehouse.gov/blog/2014/09/15/heres-what-medal-honor-presentation-white-house-looks
June of course also marked the D Day anniversary and many a website tell the stories of the Allies, including the Canadians and Americans who landed at the various beaches that June day. The Canadians landed at Juno and not far away at Utah and Omaha Beaches the Americans landed. And one of the later Yanks was a soldier who just a few years earlier took out his American citizenship, and was a former Canadian from PEI. His name was Charles MacGillivary and hopefully you have read some of his many mentions in this space.
Charles lost his arm while taking out several enemy machine gun nests during the Battle of the Bulge and later was awarded the Medal of Honor. He is shown in the image with Jack Kennedy who at the time was running for the US Congress. They are at Boston's Fenway Park during the World Series of 1946. It was game 3, where the Red Sox lost to the Cardinals who later took the World Series. Mac is being presented the game ball in the picture. Most may not realize, when recalling Mac's heroism that he also earned several other bravery awards... including the Distinguished Service Cross, for his actions when he landed at Omaha Beech on June 6 1944. The five beaches are also shown above.
And finally, I have this wonderful picture to share, which just arrived in my email this week.
The picture of these 3 siblings was taken in November of 1890. The fellow on the right is about five years old. The young girl at the left is 9 and the girl in the centre about 7. Look carefully at the poles and you ought to be able to see a net on the ends. The three were probably off on a holiday and either posing...or actually off to do some fishing, possibly in the area of Canterbury or maybe Herne Bay, some 8 miles to the north and both about 60 miles to the east of London England.
A granddaughter of the girl on the left told me today that the girl's father gathered up the family and moved from England to the Yukon where the father practiced as a doctor. They first lived in a tent and then moved into a family built log cabin. He doctored to the gold rush men and built another log cabin... it was apparently the first hospital in the area. One of the above girls used to head out to dances...on her own dog sled. The doctor was said to be the first white man to have passed through the Chilkoot Pass.
Prior to coming to Canada, the family lived in London. The map above shows where the photographer was based who took the image of the three children. He had offices at Herne Bay and Canterbury, the later being marked with the red marker above.
Hopefully you will by now recognize the image to the right. It is the little boy with the two girls, but now a grown man..and recipient of the Victoria Cross. It is Rowland Bourke covered often in this space. And his sister is Winifred, to the left in the above image and beside her, at the centre, is Mae. The image has been supplied most kindly by the granddaughter Judith and her son Jason Jones of Victoria BC.
See you next week,
While mention has been given several times about a new plaque coming to Arlington in DC, little more is know as of yet. The image at left is of the actual plaque which is made in honour of the six Americans that were awarded the Victoria Cross over its many years of existence. Four of the 6 served with Canadian Forces when they earned their medals and their stories have been covered in this space in the past. It is belived the plaque will arrive and be unveiled within a few days before or after the Nov 11th ceremonies at the national cemetery and while several attempts for updates have been sent out, no details have arrived as of yet. I will keep monitoring and bring the news when obtained. The Canadian Embassy at DC has been tipped off and will stand bye and with appropriate advance notice are anticipated to try and attend and perhaps even participate.
Regarding the story of the WW ll Great Escape story also covered in these blogs, I have now been contacted by a direct relative of one of the heroes of that story to add some great details about the planning leading up to the escape. A picture had also been supplied to me of several POW's from one of the rooms in hut 109 in the North Compound and in this appears the image of a Canadian. I am attempting to find relatives of this hero to share the image with. And perhaps yet again get even further details of activities leading up to the escape.
A key player in the story of the Ohea Victoria Cross has also contacted me with some details to be pursued when time is available. He confirms info I had that there were two fakes and one real medal awaded re the Timothy Ohea VC incident, the first..and only event leading to a VC that occurred on Canadian soil. Stay tuned for follow ups, but in the mean time the image above shows the two fakes, one being owned by the fellow who contacted me.
Regular readers of these blogs will recall the numerous stories of Douglas Munro from Vancouver BC. He earned a Medal of Honor in WW ll while in the coast guard and doing his duties at Guadalcanal. He lost his life in the saving of some 500 marines in the battle to get them off the island when driven into the sea. His WAS THE ONLY MOH EVER awarded to anyone in the USCG. Several coast guard vessels have been named in his memory and the very headquarters located in DC is named in his honour as well.
On the very site of these head quarters..but on the other side of a rise.. .or hill if you will.. .is what is known as the St Elizabeth's Cemetery, and it is here that yet another Canadian is honoured. His name is Joseph Noil and he saved a life from drowning and was also awarded a Medal of Honor shortly after the Civil War, and has been written about several times in these blogs. His grave was just located in recent years and the stone marker, containing a misspelled name is in the process of being corrected with the installation of a new MOH marker created and to be affixed to his grave side in the months to come.
That grave and many more will be honoured by the US Coast Guard as they go through the cemetery and clean it up and place flags in honour of all the deceased service members, in time for the US Veterans Days ceremonies of 11 November and on the 12th. Above is the image of a small portion of the cemetery last year in November.
I am excited to say that I was approached last week by a woman with regards to my research in New Brunswick. As we talked I learned that she was related to one of the very first 8 founders of Monckton (old spelling.) Further into the conversation she told me her surname. One you will recall reading about also in these blogs. It was Wortman and a great great grandson of the George of founder days, was the George you may have read about here. He earned a MOH just after the Civil War.
My amazement at this lady introducing herself to me was even more surprising when she revealed that she had never heard about the MOH man... a direct relative of hers. We shall get together soon for some serious info sharing.
Much has been written in this space about the massive slaughter of the fields of Gettysburg in July of 1863. Many Canadians fought and died there. As did men from all across the US and indeed dozens of other countries. Around mid afternoon of July 3 Major General George Pickett's thousands marched across land that was no man's land about a mile deep and as wide. To his back were upwards of 150 Cannons as were perhaps as many to the Confederate soldiers' front. Marching soon saw the troop numbers halved and most would also stumbled as then moved into a physical charge. Thousands turned into hundreds, and by the time what was left reached the farthest forward.. .or as it was then called.. .the high water mark, they were killed wounded or repulsed.
The Union cannons shown above look out at the Confederate line a mile away at a place called Missionary Ridge. The large stone in the center marks the battle lines of one of the Union cavalry units. And the smaller stone to the left marks the very point were a Lt, one of thousands fell dead whilst he worked his cannons. He was in charge of a battery and whilst already wounded twice and having his guts spilling out of his belly, another soldier tried to hold them in whilst he gave his last command before taking a third shot...write through his mouth. Falling to the ground in convulsions he was soon dead. He was only 22 years old!
Many years later, a family moved into the home held by that soldier's relatives. She started a writing campaign that would last decades and decades and decades. And finally, most recently his story has come to the press with the wonderful news that after over 150 years he would be awarded the Medal of Honor.
His name is Alonzo Cushing and much can be read about him on the net.. Some even in my blogs. It is said by some, though I think incorrectly that tomorrow is the day he will be awarded the Medal of Honor by the President of the United States. I think the date is a little premature and it may come soon.. .but not tomorrow.
But watch the news, cause some regular followers of my work have caught me making mistakes already..hehe.
Congratulations to Alonzo Cushing, the woman who spent almost an entire life time pursuant the award and all those who played roles in moving this matter to a fitting conclusion.
See you next week.
At the end of July I announced that after about a year and a half I was taking a refresher for a few weeks. It was so needed that it turned into more than double that. Much has happened since then. Several important anniversaries and other events have come and gone in the Medal of Honor and Victoria Cross worlds. More are in the immediate future. Several comments have come to me, from you the reader. These are much appreciated, and need my attention, and hopefully soon. I also want to also share my thoughts on a most important MOH story in the immediate future.
But I choose to begin today with an announcement that has been long in the coming. Back on day one, I was convinced by folks on several fronts who knew of my research, who constantly noted that some of this information should be made public. By doing so, this would encourage others, historians and even family to come forth with tidbits of great importance...info that I would have never learned had I not done the blog in the first place. So now almost two years later and with much input from you and your friends, my filing cabinets are breaking at the seams.
But with this joy is a massive problem. My intent well over a decade ago was to WRITE A BOOK... not do a DAILY, then later a three day...then, finally two day blog each and every week. Most take massive amounts of time to research and articulate in a way that hopefully you would find it compelling enough to read. And that reading, would lead to more knowledge about these mostly unknown MOH heroes from Canada and those also with connections to Canada. In the later months the blog even expanded into the recipients of the Victoria Cross. Couple both of these with several side trips on related topics and one can readily see that all of this had become a major vacuum of the available time for research AND WRITING A BOOK.
So for obvious reasons, today's blog... on a Sunday... is announcing that the blogs will be reduced to one a week...on Sundays. Once in a while a special may be run when needed. But today is the first of these once a week blogs and it covers several issues.
Two weeks ago today.... and 200 years of course, would take you back to close to the end the American and British/Canadian War of 1812. On that day (24 Aug.) some of the crew from the HMS Tonnant, including two British Admirals and the British Major General Robert Ross had been dining with some senior American officials and were discussing the release of many American and British POW's.
While many were exchanged, one particular fellow was not released as he had not only been aware of British defences in the area but also of the plans to attack Baltimore in the weeks to come. This intelligence had to kept from the Americans and so the man, a lawyer there to help with release of others, became himself a prisoner and secured on the HMS Tonnant. That night Ross and others set many government buildings including the President's premises, now called the White House, aflame. The Brits also shelled Baltimore. The next morning the lawyer awoke and was surprised to see his flag still flying. He then wrote a poem about it. His name was Francis Scott Key and his creation would later become the American national anthem... the Star Spangled Banner.
General Ross would be twice wounded during the Baltimore battle and sent to the Tonnant for treatment. Unfortunately he died whilst being transported. Rather than getting a swig of rum rations for his troubles, he got dunked in 129 gallons of Jamaican Rum for preservation, transhipped to another British vessel and sent off to Halifax Nova Scotia for burial were he rests today. (Above are depictions of the HMS Tonnant, the White House on fire and Francis Scott Key.)
Jump forward another 100 years from the first story, or backwards from a few weeks back if you like, for another 100 years, and you will be within weeks of the North America's starting involvement in the Great War. The one that was said to end all wars!
That began when Britain declared war on Germany on August 4 1914. Canada followed suite the next day. And as the weeks and months and years evolved tens of thousands of Americans came north and put on a Canadian uniform and went off to war. Many to return to the American service when their country later joined the war efforts.
Recruitment posters by the thousands were posted throughout Canada and abroad no doubt. Eventually over over 620,000 served for Canada. Britain awarded 628 Victoria Crosses for incredible bravery of the highest order in actions in the war. About 75, or one in 8 of these came home to Canada. The Americans awarded 124 Medals of Honor in this same war. One of these came to a fellow who joined the Canadians before the Americans entered the war, later in the war switched back to the US services and went on to earn his MOH.
London England born naval Lieutenant Rowland Bourke, lived for several years pre the war in British Columbia. He became blinded in one eye and the military rejected him in Canada for service for the First World War. So Rowland sold some of his land, donated the funds to help returning soldiers, financed his way to the US for Pilot's Training, then self financed a trip to England and tried to enter war service. Most rejected for medical reasons but the Naval Reserves took him on. He and his naval crew went on to save over 40 lives. His story is much told in past blogs on this site and I encourage searching his name and re-reading some of this information.
If you want to lift your spirits on September 11th, (next Thursday) put the 2001 tragedy aside for a few minutes and give some thought to this man. On that day 94 years ago this hero stood at Buckingham Palace while the King of England pinned the Victoria Cross to his chest.
Past blogs have told of the plan last year to honour WWl Victoria Cross recipients at the local county level in the UK.
Initial plans called for the honouring of only those buried in the UK, but this was later extended to all WWl recipients wherever buried.
A contest was held for the design and plans made to have these markers, called paving stones, unveiled at a place of choosing by the public in each of these counties etc. Further, the unveiling was to be done sometime over the 4 year commemorative period of the war.... on exactly the 100th yr... and date... of the actual event that resulted in the service member's earning the Victoria Cross.
The upper plaque is in honour of Cpl Charles Garforth who's heroism at Harmignies France on 23 August 1914 saved many lives and resulted in his earning the VC. The Plaque is the result of a design competition noted in earlier blogs and is the very type to be used for about 400 individual plaques to be mounted over the next four years in the UK. (With some irony, the location of the Garforth deed was just about 180 KMs away and to the south east of where Rowland Bourke 4 years later would earn his VC.) It is mounted very close to where Garforth was born and is the first of these 400 or more plaques that will ultimately be unveiled. Many of these will be for Canadians buried in the UK, and as these are created I hope to bring some of their stories to this site.
After some public pressure re original plans to only honour those buried in the UK, the powers to be created a second plaque, one of which appears above. There are 11 of these going to 11 different countries. The above is the plaque coming at some point to Canada, and lists more recipients than any of the others.
For reasons unknown to me, Naval Lt. (Later Commander) Rowland Bourke's name is not listed on the above plaque though clearly it ought to be. Equally puzzling is the fact that Captain (Later Brig. General) John Sinton's name IS listed when it ought not be as he is buried in Ireland. Go figure!
Moving on, a few days ago, on the 4th the town of Esquimalt, next door to Victoria BC, held a ceremony in honour of those that came forth from the town to serve during WW l. Part of that service was the unveiling of two prized artillery pieced, recently refurbished, and captured by troops from BC in the battle for Vimy Ridge.
The town has also created this memorial, show at right in further honour of Commander Rowland Bourke. This will be mounted for a time at the public library and then moved on to a more permanent location later. Relatives of the Commander were in attendance, as was I and we most briefly had an opportunity to visit with several dignitaries after the event.
Still with anniversaries as such, we must not forget that it was 75 years ago next Wednesday that Canada entered WW ll.
See you next Sunday.
Over the next two weeks I will be giving some thought to this web-site, it's frequency and some possible changes.
I hope to be back by the 15th. Please hang in and perhaps take some time to use the research function on the site and re-read some of these many blogs. Also feel free to use the form at this site to send some feedback about the many stories I have been bringing you on the Victoria Cross and Medal of Honor recipients and up-dates to any news that may have a connection to these Canadian, (or connected) heroes.
Cheers till the 15th