That said I am taking a vacation Day. But i will be back next Sunday with two great updates to the Canadian side of the Medal of Honor story.
Hope to see you then.
Canadian Medal of
Over the past few months I have spent a massive amount of time...far in excess of the Weekly Blog, to continue this much needed research. Over the same period of time my health has been affected due to over exhaustion, coupled with another health issue.
That said I am taking a vacation Day. But i will be back next Sunday with two great updates to the Canadian side of the Medal of Honor story.
Hope to see you then.
Somewhere out there in the netherland is a half finished blog from yesterday. I do not know what happened but I must have hit a wrong button and it instantly disappeared. The site gives automatic saves as I create the blog but even they, at least three of them, disappeared. Thus you probably shared the frustrations I did last night. And this happened at a VERY busy time for me.
Nevertheless, I shall try again today.
We are now into March, the very month set aside to honour women in the United States. While most of my work involves military men, regular readers know that I try to write as often as stories coming as close as possible to the mandates of the blog, and involving women, come to my attention.
Within Women's History Month across the US (Canada's is in October) comes International Women's Day, on March 8th. That day in history also marks the very important and famous battle in 1862 between the USS Monitor and the CSS Merrimack that resulted in a stalemate between the North and the South, took many lives from around the world... including Canada, and also changed the way warships were built in the future, and world wide.
On another front, this blog has recently brought you stories about the heroic WWl work and bravery, of the US Navy's nurse Lenah Higbee and the US Army's Beatrice MacDonald In the weeks to come I will be bringing you the equally important story of yet another woman, Madeleiene Jaffray.
And on another, I have been given the honour this coming weekend to be a speaker at a convention for the Western Front Association, Pacific Branch who's goals among many, are to keep the stories of the events of WWI at the Western Front alive. The list of speakers from both Canada and the United States is long and brings to the podium their years of impressive credentials. And then there is me!
Guess that's why my talk begins the events of day three. The time when some may have slept in with the changing of the clocks. HMMMM! he he
During this important month, I will be sharing with them the stories of the above three female nurses and their heroics during the Great War.
That said, I do not have the time to bring you a full blog today, nor will there be any blog next weekend.
Bringing all these topics together, I would encourage you to use the search engine on this page at upper right to pull up some of the stories on these heroes, on Women's History, International Women's Day and the famous sea battle of 1862. for a reread. I would also ask you to tell your friends about these articles and help spread the word about the work done in this space.
A few weeks back I received a wonderful story from one of my loyal supporters back east about the famous national cemetery at Arlington Virginia, within eye shot of DC. While also covered a few times here in the past, I think it can never be covered too much.
That being said, here is that story....
Back again on the 18th,
The more you delve into the American Medal of Honor and its recipients over the years, the more you hear some pretty strange stuff.
Many of the recipients of today have said that they hope there are no more members joining the Congressional Medal of Honor Society,. This of course is one of the most prestigious of clubs in the US. Its membership is limited to only those who have been awarded the nation's highest medal for bravery... the Medal of Honor.
To get one, except in rare cases, you have to have shown your worth in the very face of the enemy. And to have an enemy you have to have a war. And there-in is the source of the title above. These heroes do not want to see anymore wars, and thus no more members.
The Blue, Silver and Gold Star Families of the US of which I hope you have read much in the last several blogs, tell of those families who have lost a member, or even sadder, more than one member whilst in the service of their country.
Today's blog will tell you about the Canadian equivalent to the American families, but more narrow in scope... to the Memorial Cross Mothers, sometimes called the Silver Cross Mothers, and later the National Silver Cross Mother for the entire country.
Yet again a club where none of the members wishes to have an expanded membership.
It was back in 1915 when the National Council of Women (NCW) started making their views known about the recognition due the mothers who lost their sons in battle for their homeland. Their thoughts were that instead of parading around in dreary black garments, woman should be allowed to wear a royal purple blue arm band with a suitable devise attached, that told all of their losses. (Ironic that a half century later my own mother, as the then current president of NCW was making presentations to PM Trudeau (the first) for the inclusion of women into the ranks of the RCMP as police officers instead of limited their functions to clerical or other non Peace Officer functions.)
Unlike Trudeau, Borden stalled but in the Fall of 1916 things changed, perhaps with the horrible news of the sinking of the Lusitania. Letters to the editor of Toronto papers, and clippings of same sent to Borden later from popular novelist WA Fraser got federal attention to the cause. He called for the making of a medal, to be called the Silver Cross and that it should... "pay a beautiful and deserved tribute to the mothers of slain Canadian soldiers."
This newspaper notice was in an Ottawa area paper in September 1916. Within 2 months it had been discussed in Parliament, and introduced on November 25th as an Order-in-Council. It was considered days later and on Dec 1, 1916, after having been approved by the Minister of Militia and Defense, and with concurrence of the Minister of Naval Services, became law.
This is one of the earlier Memorial Crosses. Lance Sergeant Williams was born in Yarmouth NS, and enlisted from New Brunswick in the PPCLI for duty in WWl. He was badly wounded in battle about 40 Km South East of Paris France, in the small town on Tilloy. His late Sept wounds resulted in his death about a week later.
These three Silver Crosses represent each of the three Monarch's and their Royal Cyphers. HRH King George V at left, who passed away in 1910, HRH King George VI at center, who passed away in 1952 and our reigning Monarch, HRH Queen Elizabeth II right.
Over the years there have been several changes regarding who in the family could receive a memorial Cross, how many could come to the family, and prerequisites needed even before a medal was, and is awarded.
In 1936 the federal government created a new program that complimented the Memorial (Silver) Cross Mothers program of the day. It then created NATIONAL Memorial (Silver) Cross Mother program. One which has one mother of a lost child representing all mothers and conducting certain national duties throughout the year. These include the most important wreath laying at Ottawa during the Remembrance Ceremony where her laying of a wreath comes second only to that of our Governor General, and before our Prime Minister.
2018 marks the 82nd year of this program where a mother had been appointed annually in all but just a few years since 1936. Above we see the first woman so awarded. The job of selection falls to the Royal Canadian Legion each year.
In 1936, Winnipeg's Charlotte Susan Wood, shown above, became the first National Memorial (Silver) Cross Mother. That year she traveled to England to lay a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Westminster Abbey. (The unknown there is also a posthumous recipient of the Victoria Cross and the Medal of Honor.)
Mrs Wood lost two sons in battle, one at Mons Belgium August 1914 and another at Vimy in May 1917.
At one point there were up to three actual Silver Crosses that could be awarded to a family. Not sure what the current limits are. But I have discovered that in 1947 the Ribbon, shown above was introduced to those in the family that did not get the Silver Cross. Apparently up to 5 ribbons could be issued to a family.
Readers may not realize it but while our troops served in Afghanistan, almost one in 10 was a woman. And 310 of these woman served in combat roles.
Partly Antigonish Nova Scotia schooled and RMC graduated, Nichola Goddard joined the Canadian Forces and was soon in Afghanistan. As one of those in combat roles Goddard of the PPCLI held the rank of Captain and was acting as a Forward Observation Officer while commanding a mission to capture 15 alleged Taliban in mid June 2006.
Enroute, her job had her often standing in her vehicle, and half exposed to potential enemy at any time. The team got ambushed, leading to a day long battle. When her vehicle was hit by two rocket propelled grenades, Capt Goddard and an Afghan National Army soldier were killed. But so were about 40 of the enemy and another 20 captured by her team.
Captain Goddard was posthumously awarded the Meritorious Service Medal. Her husband was later awarded the Memorial Silver Cross. probably the first such award, as the Captain, shown above, was the first certified combat related death of a woman in our history.
A google search of The Captain's name will bring up considerable information about this brave woman. Hits will show of many tributes and memorials across the country to her service and sacrifice.
By going to... https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QrkgV5bl7kQ
you can listen to a wonderful song about heroes that was written and performed by the group... The Trews, from Antigonish NS. The song was written in honour of Captain Goddard. Please have a listen, and carefully to the words, and then pass it along to others.
And here is another site I want you to check out...
I've told you about this site in the past. It is the web site that the good folks of Zorra Ontario created a few years back as a result of an original attending of the new grave marker unveiling in California in 2010 for Benjamin F Youngs, noted repeatedly on this site. He was from Zorra and was awarded the MOH for actions in the Civil War. I did much of the background work for the California event.
At this site the reasons for creating the site are shown at the right on the home page. The fourth item down is a song written and performed by Jack London and called the Highway of Heroes. Again please listen closely to the words. This song was also inspired by the heroism of Captain Goddard. Please also pass this on to others..
Finally, before signing off, I note that there are only 3 more days in February, the month set aside across North America to honour Black History.
I've yet to see any Canadian print coverage this month that mentions the name of Joseph Noil, who is often mentioned in past blogs here. Only a few William Hall mentions have been found. Noil was a MOH recipient and Hall was a VC recipient. Both men were from Nova Scotia and both were of course men of colour.
While being awarded the highest medals for bravery in Canada and the US, I am left with he feeling that these black heroes are nor worthy of mention during the very month dedicated to the cause.
I find this VERY disheartening of our print media across the country. Not sure if the other media outlets are in the same kettle.
The Black community I trust will take note of this lack of support for their cause. .
Back next week,
Over the last several weeks I have been sharing with you some of the incredible accomplishments of a war hero that it appears, wants to be known for everything but.
After strapping on his flame thrower and taking out an enemy machine gun bunker, he'd run out of gasoline and would back out to get another and another and yet even 4 more. When all was said and done it would seem that he was trying to take out most of the 21,000 Japanese fortified in their 18 miles or more of tunnels all by himself.
The actions went well beyond the normal call of duty and resulted in his men gaining considerable ground. It was not long after that Woody found himself in Washington DC. There his president would drape the Medal of Honor around his neck. He would declare years later that he did not even know what the medal was when on the battlefield, nor had he ever even seen one before arriving at the White House.
The past blogs tell much of this. If you have missed these you should take time to have a look at them. One of these told how Woody, like so many others, had been missing the boat when they so often talked about the Gold Star Mothers. Those who had lost a son or daughter in the military and sacrificing all of their tomorrows so that we could have our todays and so many more tomorrows.
The boats being missed were that the mothers were not alone. As said in an early blog, he was told at one ceremony honoring the Mothers, that Fathers also cried.. And what about the other children` and the greater family of relatives? Soon the message would sink in and hesrtating dedicating much time to the expansion of the Gold Star Mothers into the Gold Star Families.
And rather than just talking, he did something about it.more.
In 2010 he created the Hershel "Woody" Williams Medal of Honor Educational Foundation. This was, and is a national not for profit charitable organization dedicated to many causes. Firstly, in memory of those lost, a wide variety of fund raising events would be used to provide scholarships to qualifying children. Money would be made available to help the family school the children and of course at the same time keep alive the memories of those so dearly loved and lost.
Woody recognized that while many of the families had a place within the US that they could go to visit the graves of their lost one, but many more did not. Looking at the bigger picture he also noted that while honouring the fallen, it was high time that the very families and the rest of the population should have places to go to that recognize their losses as well. (Almost 700,000 Americans died since WW1 in service of their homeland, and the world.)
Soon the Gold Star Families Memorial was created, and by 2013 the above memorial was erected at the Veterans Cemetery in Dunbar West Virginia.
Funds were raised to the tune of about $100,000 to build this gorgeous memorial and a pathway up to it. Since then an astounding number of 31 different US States have a similar memorial or in some cases even more than one. Incredibly a total of 39 have been dedicated and another 51 are in progress.
And I do believe Woody has attended everyone of those already dedicated. And he is in his 90's folks!
Every one of them is a duplicate of the one shown above. The cut out represents the lost.. or missing, soldier, sailor, marine, airman or coastguard member gone forever.
While the fronts are all the same, the backs are left to the creativity of the communities. However one of each of the four panels must have a theme for the homeland, family, patriots and sacrifice.
And Woody has not stopped there. He has also recognized that there are few memorials dedicated to the memories of all the Medal of Honor recipients in various parts of the country. Therefore he has decided to raise further funds to create Medal of Honor Walls of Memory.
Many current displays are in areas that the public are generally not allowed to enter. Thus, Woody's plan is to have a Wall of Memory in the veterans facilities were the vets themselves, family and friends visit. In these he wants to see a hallway dedicated to all, or as many as possible, of the MOH recipients that came from that particular area of the country.
Here we see Hershel Woody Williams and the reverse of one of the Gold Star Families Memorials. This one was un-veiled on Memorial Day 2016 at Grove City Ohio.
Here we see the existing and proposed memorials.
And here is a list of the memorials completed and proposed.
If you Google Woody's name you can read much about this hero, and these various foundations. A great utube video re the Gold Star Family Memorials is at.... http://hwwmohf.org/monument-overview.html (Scroll down less than a page and look at video link on the right.)
There is also a great video about his MOH Wall at...
http://hwwmohf.org/wall-of-memory.html (Scoll down to find video link on left.)
Next week I will bring a story about Canada's Silver Cross Families.
hope you will join me then,
Over the past few weeks I have been talking about the heroism of Woody Williams, a Medal of Honor recipient from his days on the island of Iwo Jima.
The stories started with the US Air Force woman who won a contest to get to meet Woody at a ceremony and how she was so impressed with his gift of gab. A gift spent not on the war, or what he did in it or why he was awarded the Medal Honor. But a message of hope for the nation and one that emphasized those left behind at the home front when a loved one has not come home from battle. .
Much was said about the Gold Star mothers, and later fathers, and still later the families, as it should be. But in my description of the gold star itself, the banner of the same name, the blue and silver stars and their banners, also called service flags, I have come to realize that I had missed something.
I never told you about the banner that started it all. And that story involves this man...
Though difficult to read, the signature is of Robert L Queisser, born in Indiana in 1866 and educated there before moving to Ohio. Before the Great War he served in the 5th and 7th Ohio National Guard regiments then back to the 5th and still later would become the Aide De Camp for the state Governor.
While with the 5th he obtained the rank of Captain. He and sons, Charles and Robert Jr, 1st Lt and 2 Lt respectively, are shown below while all served in the 5th.
Captain Queisser is shown with his 2 sons, all in service of the 5th and along the Mexican border at El Paso on 30 December 1916. The Captain is at left and beside son Charles, a 1st Lt. At right is son Robert Jr., a 2nd Lt.
Both sons would leave home to join the Great War not long after this photo was taken. While fighting in the front lines, their father decided to show the family pride in the boys by making a banner he hung in his window. It had two blue stars, one for each officer "Doing Their Bit" for home and country. The stars appeared on a white background with the edge of the banner or flag having a red border.
Neighbours would see this and so would the military families. Others soon made their own and community after community jumped on board so much so that the state on 24 September 1917 officially adopted the flag as a symbol for military families to display the pride they had in sons and daughters who had gone off to war for the country.
Captain Queisser not only designed and made the flag but he also sent off details to Washington with a sketch and indication that he wanted a patent on his creation. On 6 November 1917 two patents were granted to the Captain. Number D0051463 for a 2 stared flag and D0051464 for another with 4 flags on it.
While not the original sketch these images depict what was sent to the Patent Office. The blue is supposed to represent hope and pride.
By 1918 an Indiana group called the the American War Mothers had been wearing a black arm band with a gold star on it in honour of sons lost in battle. That year the Womens' Committee of National Defense lobbied President Wilson for the formal approval, of the black armband and gold star and in May got it. The gold then representing the cause of liberty and freedom and the costs and sacrifice in seeking this.
I am going to leave two important initiatives started by Woody Williams till Next Sunday in order to cover to other timely matters this week.
The first being the importance next Thursday of the day in our history. It is of course February 15th.
At precisely 12 noon of 15 February 1965 the old Red Ensign flag was lowered and Canada's new Maple Leaf flag was flown for the first time ever at the Peace Tower in Ottawa. The crowds sang Oh Canada, and God Save the Queen no doubt louder than many a heckler of the day, and gave great cheers. But this, only after months and months of debate, more than 300 speeches in the Houses of Parliament and after close examination of more than 5,900 designs, that a vote if parliament that carried 163 to 78, to adopt the new flag.
Canadians from Coast to Coast will be celebrating the very day, proclaimed by Parliament as National Flag of Canada Day on Thursday. No doubt it will add some excitement at the Winter Olympics as well as across the country.
A little hard to read but well worth the effort.
And speaking of hard to read, I personally find it hard to accept that after all the coverage I have given to the story of the incredible heroism of Joseph Noil in this space, I have yet to see any news about him this February, It being Black History Month in Canada, and in fact the US as well.
I have taken great efforts to bring you his story of service in the US Navy, his being awarded the US Medal of Honor, his being buried under the wrong name for well over 100 years and his unveiled new marker with wonderful coverage a few years ago. But since then, little in the press last year or this re this man, born In Nova Scotia and the only man of colour from Canada to be so awarded a MOH, one would think someone in the Black communities across the country would take up the cause and keep his story alive.
But heck, Black History Month is only 1/3rd over. Maybe our communities will be shocked yet!
Back next week,
The last two blogs in this space started to bring you the story of Hershel "Woody" Williams, a US World War ll Medal of Honor recipient who was honoured for actions at Iwo Jima.
They have told of how this Marine Corps Corporal not only became a military hero, but after war service, he became a hero again, and again, and again. This for his life long journey in recognition of not only the medaled, but for those who did not come home from war.
And yet further, those left behind on the home front that were then destined to a lifetime of loss and emptiness when their brother or sister, mother or father or child, distant relative, neighbour or other loved one could no more live and share a life of hopes and dreams.
The blogs brought forth some of the tragedies that led others to move on, with the creation of the blue, silver and gold banner programs, and the powerful Gold Cross network of families.
If you missed these I would encourage you to go back to them and read of these important events in US history.
Here's a picture that everyone should recognize, put sadly I suspect too many do not. Can you tell me what it is???
Maybe this image can help...
Here's a hint. It is in Washington DC.
It is of course at the WWll National Memorial. You might think that every one of those GOLD STARS represented a service member who lost their lives, or became one of the MIA's in their service to the country. But you would be very wrong.
Each Star actually represents ONE HUNDRED of these fallen or missing heroes. And there are more than 4 thousand stars at this memorial.
Here's a thought. With all the talk of building a wall, perhaps the location should be shifted to DC, and surrounding the greater metro area. A requirement should have all visitors standing in front of this most important reminder of war's past, and saluting it. Then they would get a stamped receipt evidencing the viewing required before being allowed to exit the walled area.
A small tax on all those with incomes beyond a million bucks would have it paid for by next Wednesday at noon, and just think of all the jobs it would create.
This is a air photo of the National Memorial. The above wall is at left center..
Here is the full shot of the curved wall. The sign in front proclaims ..."Here we Mark the Price of Freedom."
This marker tells that the 4,048 Gold Stars represent the 405,399 killed or Missing in Action during WWll. It also notes that with such high numbers of losses and missing, the numbers where second only to the 1861-65 Civil War where over 600,000 were lost.
While the marker notes American deaths, one should keep in mind that a significant number of these may well have been non-American born.
For decades Woody Williams has dedicated considerable time and probably money by playing a leading role in the recognition of those families left behind to mourn their lost service members.
Clearly it is a miracle that his own family did not have to morn his own loss of life. He claims he was being watched over from above.
He began life on a dairy farm and grew up milking the cows and running a delivery service of the family product to the neighbourhood. Odd jobs like driving trucks and even taxis's would bring in some money. Often he would be required to deliver the terrible news to families from the Western Union that brought them to their knees with the message that a son or daughter or other family member had been either Missing or lost in the war effort.
He'd recall his school teacher making sure that he and his classmates knew that they had a duty to stand up when needed and that the freedoms they enjoyed did not come from the end of a pen.
When Pearl Harbour was attacked Woody knew what he had to do. But height restrictions barred his entry for about a year. But when it dropped he signed up with the United States Marine Corps. Knowing nothing about the USMC he saw them on furlough always wearing their uniforms, (a requirement of the day), and "guys in uniform always got the girl," he would later claim. And so it was to the Marines he would join.
This is an actual telegram telling the recipient that a serviceman had gone Missing in Action.
Woody expected to be on the home guard but soon was sent overseas to an island he had never heard off. The Solomons and beyond. It would be at the Island of Iwo Jima, that he had landed just 2 days earlier, that Woody would earn his Medal of Honor.
Bad intel did not tell the troops that the Japanese had about 20 miles of underground tunnels and pill boxes that, because of construction and concealment, where most difficult to take out by bombers and tanks getting caught up at water's edge. Many of the Marines were being killed by machine gunners in the bunkers.
Woody, now a Corporal and in charge of a detonations team that included flame throwers was among many NCO's and a few officers rallying to figure out how to take out the bunkers. Soon Woody would find himself with the flame thrower and about 70 pounds of gasoline, a moving target if ever there was such a thing, and with 4 Marines as personal guards, being sent out to try and destroy the enemy in the bunkers.
Each flame thrower, if used at full blast, only had enough fuel to last a few minutes. He'd soon gone through his first and 2nd... .and yet another 5 and would kill the enemy in seven bunkers that gave the marines a clear path to move forward. For this he would have the Medal of Honor draped around his neck by the President of the United States. A medal that he had never heard of, and knew nothing about till being the proud owner of one.
But as today's title suggests, Woody Williams felt very strongly that the medal did not belong to him. It belonged to the two Marines he lost protecting him, and to all the others that never got to come home.
Next Sunday's conclusion will tell of his efforts to recognize the families of those lost and missing in war.
Hope you will join me then,
Millions of deaths, and markers to remember, yet we still march on in tragic directions of the past!
Last week's comments included a reference to the 2013 US government shutdown. These ended with the hopes that the 2018 shutdown would not last as long as the last one.
The blog appeared in the first day of the shutdown, and it came to an end the following day. Feel free to send thanks for the power this blog must have. HeHe
On a more serious note, the people of Canada and the United States have enjoyed a most warm, caring and prosperous relationship since day one. The elephant in the room has rocked a few times and we have usually squeaked out, but for the best of times we have gotten along great.
This is well illustrated with the historic fact that, in both World Wars, when Canada went to battle we took along thousands of non-Canadians. Coming from many parts of the world, thousands also came from the United States.
They would all do the same training and then cross the pond to do their bit to return peace in the world. Some of the Americans would stay with the Canadians throughout the war and some would switch back to join their native brothers and sisters when the US later entered both wars.
With Canadian training under their belt, some Americans like Robert Guy Robinson, Lewis Millett, John Carey Morgan, Bellenden Hutcheson, George Coppins, William Metcalf, George Mullin, Ralph Zengel and others would teach the world what our Canadian forefathers taught them.
The incredible bravery of each would result in their being bestowed with either the Medal of Honor or the Victoria Cross and many other most prestigious medals. Hopefully you have read their stories in this space in the past. if not, it is not too late. Use the search engine in upper right of this website.
Above are just two of these heroes. The first being Gunnery Sergeant Robert Guy Robinson, VC, and below, Colonel Lewis Millett, wearing his Medal of Honor around his neck.
I am proud to say I have visited the Robinson grave at Arlington and actually attended the Millett funeral at Riverside California, with kind permission of family.
John Siegel was born in Germany, immigrated to Canada with family and later moved to the US, and still later, as reported in earlier blogs, was awarded the Medal Of Honor shown above. Robinson received one of these models also.
This is a rare medal, about only 20 were awarded. It was designed the Tiffany Company and thus, became known as the Tiffany Cross, but is just another of the various forms of the actual Medal of Honor. But due to unpopularity for several reasons, including the fact that it looked too much like the German Iron Cross, it was taken out of service. Before that happened about 20% came to those with Canadian connections.
Last week I shared with you some of the story of 94 year old Warrant Officer Hershel "Woody" Williams, of the United States Marine Corps, and last living soldier from the battle of Iwo Jima. Like most MOH recipients, he tells any that ask, that the medal belongs not to him but to those who's lives were cut short by wars around the world.
The blog also told of his incredible efforts to keep the stories of those lost, alive with his work with the the Gold Star families of the United States.
I will return to Woody later, but now turn your attention to a fellow you have probably never heard of before.
This is George Vaughan Seibold of Washington DC. He is about 23 in the picture and wears the uniform of a 1st Lieutenant in the US's 148th Aero Squadron in 1917. With the lack of American training facilities and planes at that time, he and many others were sent to Canada to get it. He'd then be sent off with his new found Canadians friends, numbering well over 20,000, to England and later to France as part of the British Flying Corps and other entities.
George would often write home to his parents George and Grace Darling Seibold. From these letters her compassion led her to making routine visits to the Walter Reed General Hospital there in DC to care for the wounded.
But all of a sudden the letters stopped coming in.. She'd ask the military what was going on but got no answers. He was with the British and thus the yank officials had no info to share. Soon the routine hospital visits became daily visits in the hopes that she'd be on hand if and when an injured airman arrived, without identification but proving to be her son. But such was not to be!
Hospital staff, getting concerned about Grace, shown above, and always at the hospital, soon put her to work on the very wards where the wounded and dying desperately needed the love and care that she had to offer.
It would not be until 11 October 1918 that George and Grace would learn, via the mail, that their son had been killed.
The message came by way of a box of his effects arriving at her doorstep!
Official word did not arrive until 4 November 1918. He was shot down somewhere over France on 26 August.. almost 2 1/2 months earlier. No remains have ever been recovered!
Grace continued to provide care at Walter Reed. But she went beyond this by seeking out other mothers who had lost their son(s) or daughter(s) in the war. Each no doubt displaying the banner with a gold star in their windows.
The blue stared banner at left represents the home of a family where one of the household is serving in the military. The silver, at center, represents a member who has been wounded and the Gold representing the member who became Missing in Action, or who paid the ultimate sacrifice by losing their life for their country and the world.
Meeting others in the DC area led to more organized visits to hospitals. But it also led to the thought that rather than limiting the morning to their own loses, greater efforts ought to be extended to those who had no where locally to go to morn their losses. Many had sons and daughters buried in far away places. (By war's end over 100,000 Americans had not only lost their lives, but they laid at rest outside of the United States.)
On 4 June 1918 Grace Darling Seibold and 24 other mothers of lost military children started the national group called the American Gold Star Mothers Inc. This group would see many changes over the years, including the removal of an original membership prerequisite of being an American born, the addition of those Missing In Action, the opening of arms to the fathers and still later all families, and also those service members dying from causes other than battlefield actions.
Grace's name is one of those well recognized within the Gold Star community. And there is another!. Her name was Aletta Sullivan from Iowa. She had five sons who signed up for naval service in WW ll, but insisted that at no time would they be split up. All were assigned to the USS Juneau, named in honour of that city in Alaska.
Their tragic story happened about 1 12 months after the loss of Canadian born Douglas Munro at Guadalcanal. He was a Ist Class Signalman in the US Coast Guard, and subject of many blogs in this space. At the cost of his life, he played a major role in the saving of some 500 marines and would posthumously became the first... and only... Medal of Honor recipient serving in the US Coast Guard at the time. (Another who served with the Guard, later joined the army and then earned a MOH) (Enter the "SNAKE" at this site's search engine for that story.)
Today's story took place near the Munro incident but involved the USS Juneau on 13 November 1942.
In a horrible naval battle that day Japanese and American planes, destroyers and subs fought it out in terrible weather, night time darkness, problems with orders and more. Soon enemy faced enemy only thousands of feet apart.
The Juneau suffered a broadside torpedo from an enemy destroyer, started to list and take on water but managed to withdraw, and limp away in hopes of finding safety and repairs close bye. But an enemy sub found her first and launched another torpedo that hit in about the same place as the first. She immediately broke in two and within 20 seconds had slipped below the surface taken almost 700 crew, including the Sullivan brothers down with her.
Forced radio silence prevented initial calls for aid. With the appearance of such massive explosions, a sub or more than one in the same area, and little hopes of survivors, rescue efforts were not launched to the area where the Juneau sank.
The horror was that there were survivors. Three of the brothers and just over 100 more struggling in frigid waters, trying to save themselves. Most succumbed to the cold and attacking sharks. It would be several days before any rescue attempts were launched. In the end about a dozen were still alive to be rescued. This was about 8 days after being adrift in open seas.
The three remaining brothers were no more!
There were at least two Canadians on-board the warship when it sank. Seaman First Class Alden D Graham of St Stephen NB, and Fireman First Class Murray Glen Allan from Meaford Ontario. They, the Captain and rest of crew may have walked their last piece on earth, when they visited Canada's east coast, at Fox Harbour Newfoundland just five months earlier. (Technically Nfld was a British Colony until 1949.)
In February of 1943 the US Office of War Information produced this naval recruiting poster. Note it's title has the brothers "Missing In Action" which called for gold stars but the above looks more like blue than gold. not also the inverted V being turned over and that slight changes in the image show that it was taken in sequence with the first picture shown.
In 1947 the US Congress approved the issuing of the Gold Star Mother's pin, (shown above) and also called a button. The following year the US Post Office printed over 77 MILLION stamp sheets, with 50 per page and with a value of three cents each. The very first sheet was presented to Mrs Sullivan.
The above stamps were made available in time for that year's Gold Star Mother's Day, held on the last Sunday of September, as ordered by President Roosevelt back in June of 1936, and proclaimed by the serving President each year since.
There is still more to this story, but I will bring that to you next Sunday,
cheers till then,
Continuing research, requests for assistance on several fronts, and the preparation and delivery of a mini class on how to research American military heritage has caused a delay in completing today's blog.
I expect that the finishing touches will be done tomorrow and the blog posted by day's end.
Pick your sides as you will, but yet again The United States Government has shown that deal makers are sometimes not!
It was just over 4 years ago when l was on a several week trip to the US to do research for this blog. My daily entries at the time, told of progress as I had to venture back and forth between Gettysburg and Washington DC for various aspects of this work.
And sure enough, whilst there the government bolted the doors to one of the most important repositories of the secrets I hoped to unveil. Those of the National Archives and Records Administration, NARA for short.
Several successful days of search produced real gems. But about 1/3rd of my planned research came to a screeching halt as the government shut down and locked out many services to those who voted them into office.
I can remember like it was yesterday, the veterans wanting to get into various areas to see monuments of remembrance to those they fought with it, and they were none to happy.
Luckily the nation's most famous cemetery at Arlington was still open and many Canadian graves on my list were located. But there too, were plenty of disgruntled workers, some being forced to work without expectation of a payday in the near future. One fellow, I believe being a National Parks policeman, was about to tow my rental vehicle off because it had wondered into an unauthorized area.
I say unauthorized as all are given passes that indicate where the driver will be visiting. I was going from one area to another in this very large cemetery to see yet another grave when I came along side of the Unknown Soldier and decided that I must visit this. But alas, it was not on my pass.
On looking at graves close to this national monument, and moving towards it, I looked back at my car to see the policeman writing up a ticket. On approaching and asking what was going on, he was none to happy and seemed little interested in my story on why that specific location was not on my pass. Nor in my cursing the heat, the frustration of not find some graves and then this.
He then gave me a lecture about his having being forced to work, and told me would not be getting paid for his work. with no idea when the next pay check was coming, Such of course was not the case. It was simply WHEN he would next get his wages. The encounter was not very pleasant for either of us, but in the end I escaped with a stern warning.
This year I see that yet again many services will be performed with possibilities of delayed, but probably not cancelled payments for services provided. Nevertheless this no doubt throws family finances for a real spin in many cases.
Hopefully the men and women on capital hill with soon, put antics behind them, on both sides, and remember that their actions, or failures may well come back to bite them sooner than later.
In 2013 it took 16 days. Let's hope this one takes less!
Moving along, but still with government service to the nation, I most recently saw an article on the net that can teach each of us quite a lot about humility. It also notes that we have an obligation to serve those around us.
Governments at DC and indeed, all across North America should heed its message!
I have borrowed the article word for word, because I believe you should read every word in the message. Further, it should be widely circulated and given serious thought, by all. Please pass it on.
Here it is.
It might be easier to read the above on line at...
Hershel (Woody) Williams Is the last living Medal of Honor recipient of almost 30, being awarded a MOH for heroism during the deadly fighting at Iwo Jima back in 1945. He is now 94 years young.
He is shown above with his flame thrower back in the 1940's. By the age of 21 he would be standing in front of President Harry Truman as the Medal of Honor was draped around his neck. (Shown below)
He'd obviously come a long way from an initial rejection for war service. At 5 ft. 6 inches, he was too short for enlistment. But soon the height restriction was lowered and Woody would come to show all that he could stand very tall. A message many of today's lawmakers at DC could learn from.
The stern looking fellow standing, and beside the Woody image above, is Lt. General Alexander Vandegrift, commandant of the Marine Corp in 1945. When Williams was seen by the General the day after he was presented his MOH, Woody got a stern lecture.
Details can be seen in the wonderful 7 minute U Tube video at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fGts5WeLEgk
He was told that..."That medal does not belong to you. It belongs to all the Marines that did not get to come home." He added that Woody had better not... "do anything that would tarnish it." The General well knew of the responsibility of wearing that medal, because he too carried the same obligation as a fellow recipient.
Next weekend I will bring you an interesting story about the Gold Star families that Woody dedicated so much time to support.
Hope you will join me,
This is the third and concluding blog about the WWl heroism of Captain (Doctor) Bellenden Hutcheson, VC, MC.
His actions were taken under very heavy fire repeatedly to provide medical aid to the wounded. This including 100 seriously wounded enemy soldiers, whom had been abandoned by their own comrades. This heroism resulted in his being awarded both the Victoria Cross and the Military Cross, each then being pinned on his chest by HRH King George V at Buckingham Palace.
Today I will pick up with his being demobilized after the war and having returned to Toronto.
Before heading off to war Bellenden had met a nurse practicing in Nova Scotia. The relationship became serious but "not wanting to leave a widow behind," he saved marriage till return from military service. He and Francis Adelia Young, possibly from the Digby area of the province, soon would be married and back in the United States, at Mount Carmel Illinois, his place of birth.
Returning back to health care, the doctor and surgeon would find work at St Mary's hospital. He would also be the Health Officer for Mound City, and for two different railroads to boot.
In June of 1939 he traveled to Washington in order to be presented to HRH King George Vl and Queen Elizabeth at the British Embassy. He would then be requested to join the royal couple on a visit to the Tomb of the US Unknown Soldier, and presentation of wreaths.
The Unknown Soldier had been presented posthumously with a Victoria Cross back on its unveiling in 1921. He also received many other top bravery medals from nations around the world.
Past blogs have told about Canadian involvement in that ceremony and of attendance of 2 VC recipients and our Prime Minisyter of the day as well. The Unknown Soldier's VC presented in 1921 was on behalf of George Vl's father, the very head of Monarch that presented Hutcheson with his VC and MC at Buckingham Palace.
Doctor Hutcheson passed away after a lengthy illness at Cairo Illinois in 1954 and lay at rest today beside his wife at the Rose Hill Cemetery back in Mount Carmel. (In the same cemetery also at rest, I presume, is Al Capone and a few gang members.)
But the marker was missing something important. And it was noticed by BIll, a dedicated and long time VC researcher in Eastern Canada. It was also noticed by another Bill, a very active and fellow member of the Medal Of Honor Historical Society Of The US, of which I am a member. Both noted the marker tells nothing of Bellenden Hutcheson's heroism. And they did what had to be done to fix this, as evidenced below.
This wonderful plaque shows the post nominal initials for the Victoria Cross and the Military Cross.
As recently noted, my research has now identified 10 VC connections to the US. Eight of these would be for actions in WWl. And it might be interesting to note that of the approximate 600 VC's awarded for WWl actions, about 40% of those went to non English, or Irish born.
Mount Carmel Chamber of Commerce has also taken steps to keep the story of Doctor Hutcheson alive. They have displayed this memorial outside the entrance to the chamber.
The county courthouse has also taken great interest in the Hutcheson story as well.
Here is the building. At front and center is their war memorial. But look closely to the bottom right of the picture. See the grey and black plaque. Here's a better picture...
This plaque was unveiled in June 1991 by the Wabash County Historical Society, family and others.
In 2009 Hutcheson's old unit, the 75th, now the well respected and storied Toronto Scottish, moved from the Fort York Armouries to the west end of the city in an area known as Etobicoke and a brand new facility shared by the Metropolitan Toronto Police Force. It is named the Captain B.S.Hutcheson VC Armoury.
Therein today and well protected I suspect, are the hero's medals. I expect that his portrait still hangs most prominently in their officers' mess. And I hope on entry, members are still required to give it the salute is so preciously deserves.
Five years later, on 6 November 2014, during the Royal tour of North America, Princess Anne and husband, a Vice Admiral, visited the famous Arlington cemetery in DC. While there they presented the plaque shown below in honor of SOME of the US WWl Victoria Cross recipients. That story has been told in past blogs.
A few days later the Royal entourage traveled to Ottawa where they unveiled the Canadian plaque in honour of the WWl VC recipients. Again some names are missing. And as you can see from both, some are duplicated on both plaques.
Here's the Ottawa plaque. mounted at the British High Commission building.
Captain Hutcheson's name is bellow the middle in the 2nd column..
Returning now to Mount Carmel Illinois, it would be a former employee at city hall that would move on another front to keep the Hutcheson story alive. Many years ago Don was on the receiving end of a call from England. Someone wanted information of the Hutcheson grave. He visited the site and gathered details for the caller. Since then several similar calls had been fielded and Don got to thinking more ought to be done to bring recognition to the story.
He decided there should be a day proclaimed by council in honor of the doctor and his deed. He approached council and soon favour was gathered. He'd write up the very proclamation he wanted, presented it and was thrilled to later learn that it had been accepted.
Here is that proclamation... word for word...
And here is Mayor Hudson signing the document in December of 2016 declaring that December 16th, exactly 133 years to the day he was born, the day in the city will be known as Captain Bellenden S Hutcheson VC MC MD Day, and that further, such a day shall be in effect every December 16th from 2016 forth.
A local newspaper of the day gave wonderful coverage of both the Hutcheson war story and the proclamation. Here 's an image of the day's paper...
Bellenden Hutcheson was a doctor first, and a soldier second. The skills taken to the field under direct fire and the compassion shown to those laying wounded and dying, regardless of colour of uniform were rewarded by the highest of possible awards.
One ought to give thought to the fact that at Passcheandaele his helmet was blown off his head while caring for the wounded. Rifle, machine gun or artillery explosions and back blast knocked him off his feet at one point. At another, possibly Ypres, bullets or schrapnell would pierce his clothing. But regardless of personal safety, he'd be still in the thick of battle caring for those desperately in need of compassion, and medical aid.
Lets keep his service and so many others' bravery in mind as we visit VC graves, and Medal of Honor graves across North America.
Most impressive memorials to the long list of Canada's VC men can be found, as noted in past blogs, at Barrie and Toronto and also at Edmonton.
If you know of others, please let me know.
And in the mean time this blog, like almost 450 others have been produced at my own expense and massive time investment. You can help pay for this by taking some steps to let others known about these blogs so that these stories can be even more widely circulated. You can also let your local press known about this work.
Thanks, and before signing off, I want to thank the two Bills, Ron, other officials at Mount Carmel and so many others behind the scenes that play such an important role in bringing me these pieces for the forever non ending puzzle of these heroes on both sides of the US/Canada border.
See you next weekend.