Last week I shared with you the results of a several year search for the MacGillivary plaque that listed many of the Canadian born Medal of Honor recipients. The search ended with the discovery that the plaque is hanging in a most prominent place in the offices of the Department of Veterans Affairs in Charlottetown PEI, despite earlier evidence noting that it was in Ottawa.
The column ended with some remarks about the advances in research and the fact that many of the details contained on that plaque can now be added to... and in some cases corrected. The blog ended with the note that we will be returning to the subject of MONCKTON today.. so here we are.
The plaque, Monckton and a Medal of Honor recipient all have a connection. This blog will hopefully sort it all out.
To begin, a year and 2 days ago I brought you one of me earliest blogs. It was on George G Wortman, a New Brunswicker who earned a medal for actions during the Indian Wars back in 1868 in Arizona. You can read about this event by having a second look at the blog at...
In addition to his years of service after the Civil War with the US 8th Cavalry, he also served with the US 4th Artillery and throughout the Civil War but I have yet to find out what his unit was or any information about this Civil War service. Nor the whereabouts of his actual Medal of Honor. Doing genealogical research brought me to MONCKTON, as did the plaque which lists Wortman's name and shows him being from MONCKTON.
I thought the spelling was wrong. But it was not... sort of!. That was the spelling when he joined up... but not when the place was founded over 100 years earlier and before Canada became the nation we know it as today.
Geographer Thomas Kitchin drew this period map covering what we now know as Nova Scotia and New Brunswick and the US eastern coastline covering the dates of about the 1750's to the 1770's. Please note that today's New Brunswick was then a part of the Colony of Nova Scotia and places like Moncton, Saint John's and Fredericton had yet to be so founded as such and so named.
So what's the connection between this map and our Medal of Honor man George Gilford Wortman. Well, I'll tell you!
When doing the search for relatives and his actual medal, I found that he had a father, as we all did. His father's name was Jacob Wortman. And Jacob's father was David. And David's father was another Jacob. And Jacob's father was yet another George.
And this George, may well have recognized this map. HIs G. G. grandson is our MOH man. The senior George was born in Germany in 1742, and like many others immigrated to the US, and Pennsylvania in particular, to escape persecution back home. He and the others etched out a living but eventually grew unhappy in the US.
With the signing of the Treaty of Paris in 1763, France gave up part of its North American possessions to the British. They in turn created a number of land grant company's like the one connected to a fellow you may have heard of and named Benjamin Franklin. This company sought out the cultivation of some 100,000 acres of riverfront land in what would today be known as New Brunswick.
Eight families would be selected to initially populate the area, clear the land and start to cultivate crops and set up a settlement. They would also be expected to protect it from any enemies encountered. The written agreement called for their developing the land and staying on it for a period of five years to pay off their travel expenses and for the purchase of the land. George would be one of these selected families.
Their 44 day sail on a single masted sloop captained by a fellow named Hall, would finally see them land on 3 June 1766 along a river front known then as Paraccadiee Creek, but soon renamed to Hall's Creek. Within weeks some of the land was cleared and all were housed in a few community shelters. Over 200 lbs of potatoes had already been planted and within a year buckwheat and corn and a scattering of farm animals were on site.
The area was first called the BEND after the nature bend in the river and the greater area was named after the earlier English Colonel MONCKTON who had captured a nearby French fort not long before.
In 1788 a survey was done of the county of MONCKTON and it showed a struggling community with a handful of the original families including the Wortman three men, Jacob, Martin and John, all sons of George who had just died a few months earlier. While George had sold off most of the original almost 1200 acres, the three sons were operating a farm of about 21 acres and had done so for at least the past 6 years at the time of the survey. On their land were 8 cows, 6 oxen, 5 young cattle and 3 sheep.
Monckton would remain so named until it got its first incorporation in the mid 1850's. And at that time claimed the distinction off still holding its original spelling. But a clerical error resulted in an erroneous name change to MONCTON, which has perpetuated ever since.
On the Main Street of Moncton today there is an area set aside to commemorate the first settlers, as shown here on ther map, and with the image to the right.
Bricks remind us of the eight families that came from the United States. Note the Wortman name at lower right on the bricks, and in same spot on the enlarged image of the center photo.
As you view these, you now know of yet more NB history. That of the descendant, a Medal of Honor recipient, who's Great Great Grandfather played such an important role in the history of Moncton/MONCKTON New Brunswick.
See you on Friday.
The first part of this blog told of the many year search for a plaque that listed Canadian Medal of Honor recipients. It was supposed to have been presented to the late Right Honourable P.E. Trudeau, during his term as Prime Minister back in 1976. The presenter was Sgt. Charles MacGillivary whom you have read about in this space in the past. He was born in PEI, and earned a medal for his bravery in WW11 during the famous Battle of the Bulge in France. Charles was the immediate past president of the most influential group in the US known as the Congressional Medal of Honor Society, and was presenting on the society's behalf. It would be the only such plaque in the entire country.
About a month ago the several year search for this plaque..or a similar one.. came to an end. The search would not have been a success without the aid of an official at the Canadian Agency of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission at Ottawa and several officials at Veterans Affairs Canada at Charlottetown PEI, ironically Sgt MacGillivary's city of birth.
Here is the plaque, mounted in the atrium of the DJ MacDonald Building, at the HQ of Veterans Affairs Canada in downtown Charlottetown.
While previous information, as noted in Wednesday's blog, indicated that it was at Ottawa, no information has come forth confirming that it was ever mounted there. It appears that it was presented in PEI, per a plate on the plaque, on 15 August 1979, and by Sgt MacGillivary to the then serving Minister of Veterans Affairs.
In the four corners of this plaque, symbols represent the United States Marine Corps, Army, Navy, and Air Force. Missed seems to be the US Coast Guards.
The plate at the top tells of the importance of the Medal of Honor and that the names listed below are those Canadians who were awarded the Medal of Honor over the years between Civil War days till the horrible days of Vietnam. Here is that plate....
The plaque is self explanatory but there are some points to be made.
First, When Sgt MacGillivary appeared before Congress, as noted on Wednesday, he clearly stated that the plaque was presented in 1976. This is dated in 1979.
Second, that date and his position as not the current... but past president, certainly appear to have been added at a date after the plaque was first created. When and by whom, is unknown.
The Congressional Medal of Honor Society is an organization that was created many years ago, and consists solely of actual recipients of the medal.
Its name causes confusion by many when they insist, in error, to make reference to the medal as the Congressional Medal of Honor.
The Congressional, is used above because it was the US Congress that approved the creation of the society. The name does NOT apply to the medal itself, as readers of this blog know.
On either side of a listing of Medal of Honor recipients, there are two plates. One is in English and the other in French.
Each indicates that the plaque was presented to the Honorable Allan McKinnon, Minister of Veterans Affairs, by Charles A MacGillivary, the then past President of the society, and that it was done on the 15th of August 1979.
Again the mysterious date.
Wednesday's blog also quoted directly from the official Congressional record when MacGillivary appeared before them. And in this he clearly stated that the presentation was made to the Prime Minister... not one of his cabinet ministers.
There are 41 names on this plaque. The originally statement before Congress indicated that there were 54 names on it.
Over the years research has produced evidence that the number of recipients is far greater, as indicated in many past blogs on the site.
Evidence over these years has also helped to fill in many of the gaps on this plaque indicating the home city or town or province. Seventeen of these are missing on the plaque.
New Brunswick residents will be dismayed with the repeated use of the term St. John's as it applies to SAINT John's NB.
Others may find it most interesting that in some cases the recipient's home is listed as being Canada East or Canada West. (No doubt the names used on enlistment in the 1860's.)
And still with New Brunswick there is a listing from a place called MONCKTON, which is of course today known as Moncton.
And that is by accident.
When the community was first founded in the 1770's it was named as a county and after a British officer by the name of Monckton who had captured the French fortress in the area. His named was misspelled when the county incorporated and the name has stuck ever since. But much more on this in the next blog.
I cannot leave this blog without noting the incredible company this plaque is keeping.
To the right of the MOH plaque is the certificate issued in December of 1988 to the Government of Canada, on behalf of the people of Canada, and represents our part in the international body proudly known as the United Nations Peacekeepers. Canada, as one of its founders, has played a major role in peacekeeping since day one, and over 80,000 Canadians can share in the pride of knowing that their services to Canada and beyond has been recognized with Nobel's International Peace Prize of 1988.
Over 115 brave Canadians lost their lives while performing peaceking in some needy part of the world.
While the image above is difficult to read, here is a better image found on the net.
Some may not know it but Alfred Bernhard Nobel grew up Sweden and was soon put to work with his father making munitions. He grew to become adept at the trade and was sent to the US for additional training for one year under the quite experienced John Ericsson, another inventor from Sweden who had moved to NY and was friend of Nobel's father Olaf.
Ericsson would improve the 2 screw propeller system and have many credits to his name. He would go on a decade later to build the USS Monitor, of the famous battle in 1862 against the CSS Merrimack noted in earlier blogs here. A battle in which many Canadians fought, and two would go on later to earn a Medal of honor for other actions.
The battle resulted in countries around the world altering their then current ways of building warships..
In the first of the two days of battle, there were two deaths of the side of the Confederates, but considerable more for the the Northerners.
Readers will be interested in knowing that the very first death for the Confederates was a sailor from a place called New Brunswick, Canada.
Before signing off, I must give my thanks to the folks at Veterans Affairs for the help in finding the above plaque and Mr David Panton in particular for arranging to have the above photos taken and sent to me.
More on Monckton next Wednesday.
Regular visitors to this site know of my profound interest in locating the whereabouts of final resting places of all Canadian Medal of Honor recipients, and of course those with connections to Canada. This interest also includes the location, and hopefully the obtaining of digital images of their actual medals of honor. Further still is the desire to locate any plaques or statutes, monuments, buildings or whatever that have been named in honour of these heroes. Desires coupled with that of bringing this information to you in this space.
The results of this extensive research so far for well over 13 years has sadly produced little in the way of locating these memorials to our heritage and history within Canada. Not from lack of efforts, but from an apparent lack of their even being in the country.
Elsewhere on this site I have listed the 7 known graves located in Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Quebec, Ontario and Manitoba. I have also listed a ridiculously low number of only 5 plaques, monuments etc to these heroes within Canada. Ridiculous I say, as these men deserved far more acknowledgement for their hero status than they have been given.
Throughout these pages I have also brought you stories of two known public displays of medals, one that at one point was being offered for sale, and maybe still is, three others that I suspect are within Canada, and yet four more that I know are within the country but I have been asked not to reveal their names or locations, due to family requests. (Hopefully at least two of these will eventually be on public display.)
That being said, today I am very excited to share a success story that needs to be told.
Fifteen years ago next month this fellow stood in the very impressive US Congress to address the US Senate's Judiciary Sub Committee on Immigration.
He told the committee that... "my experience and the record shows that since the Civil War, immigrants have fought valiantly to defend this country. No one can prove to me otherwise." The soldier added that... On 23 August, 1945, I attended a ceremony at the White House with 28 other veterans. President Truman presented us with the medals. I was very honoured to have been included among so many recipients. I was also very proud that I, as an immigrant, had been selected to receive this award. I am happy to say that there are 714 other immigrants who have received the Congressional Medal of Honor."
This hero's names is Charles MacGillivary, PEI born, recipient of the Medal of Honor for bravery during the Battle of the Bulge in France in mid December of 1944. This Sergeant's story has been told on this site and many blogs have given further honourable mention over the past year.
At above left Congressman John F Kennedy is presenting him with the game ball at Fenway Park in 1945, the very park his grandfather tossed the first pitch at back in 1912, At centre President Truman is placing the MOH around Charlie's neck and at right is an image of Charles in later years.
Back around 2004 I became aware of this above referenced information about MacGillivary 's appearance before the committee. In that material there was a direct quote from the Sergeant that got my attention. He stated that back in 1975 he had gone to Ireland to present a plaque to the President that contained the names of 204 Irish born Medal of Honor recipients. He made the presentation of behalf on the Congressional Medal of Honor Society of the US, a body that he was at the time the immediate past president of. (It is believed he was the only immigrant president in the society's history.)
But what really caught my eye was his comment that... "I presented a similar plaque to Prime Minister Trudeau in 1976, containing 54 names of Canadian born Medal of Honor recipients."
I have been searching for that plaque since 2005!
In the spring of 2005 I wrote to the offices of the Speaker at the Parliament Buildings in Ottawa. One of the functions of that office is the security of the buildings. From that also flows much of what comes into and out of the buildings. Thus a good start I thought to locate this plaque.
But I soon received a letter advising that after a search no such plaque could be located. Worse yet, no information that it ever was there or put on display in any of the buildings of Parliament.
Other enquiries over the years produced no further clues. But then a spark. In a conversation a few months back with MacGillivary family I was told that there used to be a newsletter that came out from the Congressional Medal Of Honor Society and to check back to see what it anything might have been mentioned about this presentation.
Contacting my friends at the CMOHS I was later told that little was available but they did send this major clue about a month back...
It is unknown the date of publication, or for certain, what publication this appeared in. The "Static Line" stamp might be a clue. But unfortunately it just went out of print recently. An email contact to some who want to start it up again has gone unanswered so far. The significance of the handwritten date of March 1985 is unknown.
But all this aside, this picture may well be one of only a very very few that actually show two Canadians, one being a Victoria Cross recipient and one being a Medal of Honor recipient.
I have never seen another!
Note that while Sgt MacGillivary in the 1999 appearance at Congress indicated that his plaque contained 54 names of Canadians, this article says the number was lower, at only 41.
Further, at Congress the Sgt said his presentation was made in 1976, but the details here suggest a presentation "recently." And a clue of the date suggests a possible event clearly after Colonel David Currie's retirement as the Speaker of the House at Ottawa. (Currie's story was told in this space just a few weeks back,) Colonel Currie retired from the Speaker's job in 1978.
So this would suggest a presentation in or after 1978. And at Ottawa, though the Speaker in 2005 wrote me that year say his investigation could offer no supporting evidence of the plaque ever being in Ottawa.
In a further conversation with the MacGillivary family on other matters re their hero father, the plaque again came up. I was then informed that the plaque was presented to some Victoria Cross recipients and it is in a veteran's government building in Charlottetown PEI and has been seen few times over the years, had been removed for some renovations and hopefully was by the time of our conversation, again mounted for public viewing.
In the continued search and despite all the mixed signals above, I made contact with an official of the Commonwealth Graves Commission at Ottawa t. He was very helpful during the work to see the completion and unveiling of a more suitable memorial to Commander Rowland Bourke VC, MC about a year back. (much appeared here in earlier blogs on this work)
I asked if he had any contacts with Veterans Affairs officials at their HQ facilities in PEI, and if so, if they could be asked to assist in this ongoing search. He was able to help, and I will bring those results on Friday.
The national exhibit "Its an Honour" continues its journal across BC and spreading the word about the awards, honours and decorations national system in Canada. The past two blogs have introduced you to the themes, reasons and walked you through some of the great materials there for you to see and learn about... and even touch and hold in many cases.
But today's blog is not about ... what is.... but about ... what could be!
When I visited the exhibit in Duncan BC on 28 January I had a wonderful time looking at the exhibits. Because of poor weather conditions there were few visitors and so I was given a fantastic opportunity to speak with two of the crew and share some very interesting stories of their experience since joining the exhibit. The morning also gave me a golden opportunity to share with them the work that I have been doing for years on the research of the Canadians heroes for which this site was created. And thus, my reason to even visit the exhibit.
Then, and since I have thought of, and shared views about some ideas I have that might make the great exhibit even more meaningful to the visitor.
What follows are those thoughts.
An enquiry was made as to the location of the event. How it was selected? Duncan's took place at a public school with 260 children in Kindergarten through grade 7. It was great for the kids and certainly the higher grades would have gotten much out of it. But how was the school selected? The question was asked to be passed on to Ottawa but no response has been received from Ottawa.
The issue I have with the locations selected across Canada so far may have been vastly improved in some centres, had Ottawa done some more research on the very military heroes it choses to honour. Many of these recipients went to public schools somewhere in Canada. Why not do some research, get this info and see if those schools could host the event.
There is still 18 months of touring... and that is a lot of pubic schools that could get a real thrill out of hosting such a significant event.
Getting specific, Duncan's location was less than a dozen blocks from the Charles Hoey Park. This I suspect was by fluke, not any planning. Charles Hoye's name is on the cenotaph contained in that park. (as is his brother) There is also a marker commemorating his heroism in Burma in WW11 that resulted in not only a Military Cross but a Victoria Cross. He died in the process of earning his VC. In short, the very sort of hero this exhibit should be honouring.
But the crew did not know anything about this fellow until I told them about the man and even took a crew member to the park to see it for himself.
I recognize that it is impossible for the crew to know each recipient's name or story, that is not their job. It belongs with Ottawa... and for Ottawa to give the crew the tools to work with... ie a sheet of talking points most connected with the very venue in.
Image the joy and thrill the kids could get, many of the seniors children in particular, who have played in that very park and would certainly recognized its name if a crew member mentioned it. As they would speak the kids would say..."I know that name... thank you for telling me what he did."
But the opportunity is now lost. At least for that stop of the tour! It can be fixed for hundreds of others.
Many of the recipients of these awards are now senior citizens and live in complexes dedicated to these older folks.
I have looked at the proposed stops for the exhibit briefly and do not recall seeing any of these complexes or veterans type housing projects were the exhibit may be shown. These folks have many challenges in getting around and those that are mobile would be proud and thrilled to see the exhibit at their own doorstep. Thought for consideration.
Better yet... make some sort of a portable display that can be taken into the buildings. Probably undoable this time around though.
One of the great features of the exhibit is the reaching out to current recipients of the various awards, medals etc and the invitation extended for them to come out a view the displays etc. Chances are pretty good that not only are great stories shared with these heroes and the crew, but that the public can also meet these folks and shake their hands and hear first hand what the person did to be appropriately awarded for their effort to make Canada and the world a better place.
My thought is that when one of these heroes passes on, who in the family learns of the exhibit. A major data base should be created so that the next of kin or family representatives' contact info should be gathered and stored, and used so that Ottawa now has another person that invitations could be extended to, so that they could also come out an enjoy the very exhibit their family member is honoured in.
It would take some work, but the costs would be far better spent there than on much silliness Ottawa spends on today as we all know.
In the talking points sheets mentioned above, there should be such for certain months of the year.
One coming to mind is of course Black History Month. We are well into the month and this would have been a great time to highlight the black leaders Canada can be so proud of. The list would be very long. Let the kids do a print out of it while at the exhibit.
Another month coming to mind for personal reasons is Women's History Month conceptualized, and advocated for nationally, for over a year by three women from Victoria BC, my late mother being one of these.
That sheet could tell the brief story of the Famous Five, the subsequent creation of the Persons Awards and the still later creation of the month honouring Canadian women. What better example of leadership and inspiration could you ask for, to motivate the young children?
The exhibit is designed to motivate the youth. Here's a story they could have used... and still can. My mother often spoke about the month she and the two others created and her message was always rather profound. It was that it just goes to show what three people sitting around the kitchen table can do when they make their minds up to do it... regardless of the obstacles along the way. And they did it... despite some very serious doubts from many very powerful public figures.
The suggestion was passed on that many interesting theme shows that travel from place to place have a way that those viewing can become part of the very history of the exhibit.
My idea was for this exhibit to place some sort of large pieces of plexiglass on the sides of the van when in a fixed position at a stop. Then allow the kids to go out and sign their names to it.
As it becomes full, pull it down and put a new one up... and then make these a permanent exhibit at Ottawa after the tour is finally completed.
What a great and lasting exhibit that would be!
My final point is that I was stunned to find that Major Hoey, VC, MC, pictured here, and who's story has been told at this site just before the last two blogs, WAS FORGOTTEN by the folks in Ottawa who have put together this display of Canadian heroes.
He ranks with the best of the best of them and his name is NOT LISTED in the data bank at the interpretive display in the exhibit.
I find this absolutely astonishing! And if I may... unacceptable.
While the criteria for the listing of those listed is unknown, and the question posed about this yet to be answered by Ottawa, a Canadian born VC recipient... for whatever reason excluded, should be put back into that data base for all Canadians to see.. for ever. Period.
And so should any other VC recipient with any connections whatsoever to Canada.
Telling the story of the Victoria Cross without telling of ALL these folks is like getting your potatoes without the gravy. In fact a whole lot more serious.
And surely that has to be just plain wrong and a disservice to their memory!
See you next week.
Last Friday I brought you the first blog on the two year travelling exhibit called ''It's an Honour." The program is sponsored by the offices of the Governor General of Canada and funded by most generous assistance from the Taylor Family Foundation. It is designed to help better make the public aware of federal government awards and decoration programs by bringing exhibits to hundreds of centers across Canada were the citizens could come out and learn more about these awards, and maybe even meet some heroes in the process. It is designed to focus more on the small centers than the large because in these it is felt the citizens may be a little more hard pressed to get to the major resource museums, libraries etc in the bigger centres. The program is also very much geared to the younger children as well.
The exhibit is not just about medals and awards to be hung on your chest or around your neck, or about plaques and certificates suitable for framing.
The message is much deeper. It is about inspiring Canadians by showing normal day to day men women AND YOUTH how their fellow Canadians coming from all the same walks of life have done more than just the ordinary. Folks who have refused to accept the typical...no you can't attitude...and reached out for the challenges. Not only stretching but actually embracing, and in so doing, overcoming what were thought to be insurmountable odds. Reaching success time after time while others were too busy scratching their heads and wondering how it got done. And in this process these men and women and youth have made themselves and their country... the envy of the world.
On Friday I promised a look inside this exhibit so here we go...
As you enter the exhibit you are greeted by a wide screen image of our Right Honorable Governor General David Johnson.
In a brief video you are welcomed to the exhibit and given a brief few words about its purpose.
One of the most impressive displays is the massive exhibit in the shape of the Order of Canada, the nation's highest award that can be bestowed on Canadians and ranking just below the Victoria Cross.
This image depicts the top of the three possible levels of the Order of Canada, that of the Companion of the order. Easily distinguished by the solid red maple leaf at its centre.
The order is shaped like a snowflake. This design reflects the fact that each snowflake is an individual... no two alike. So too for the recipients of the award.
I'm told that one of the biggest eye catchers for the youth was the display opposite the Order of Canada.
Here the kids get to see the Jersey of Canada's "Rockstar" of hockey, the one and only Sidney Crosby from Cole Harbour (Halifax) Nova Scotia. (Current Captain of the NHL's Penguins.)
In the same area they will find the signed basketball of international acclaimed Steve Nash, South African born but raised in Victoria BC. He is the current eldest player in the game and is with the LA Lakers and not long ago recognized as one of the 100 most influential people in the world.
Not bad eh! Two Canadians...one from each end of the country known to the world. That's what being a Canadian is all about...if you just go searching. And in between there were lots of others duly noted for their efforts to make Canada and the world a better place.
Award winning actor Michael J Fox is recognized here for his incredible work in the area of Parkinson's Disease, Clara Hughes gets most honourable mention for her speed skating championships and Guy LaLiberte, one of the co-founders of the Circus Du Soloil is also well represented, as are many other famous Canadians.
Note in the above image the students with their clipboards. On these are scavenger hunt activity sheets. These allow the children to explore all exhibits and then take questions to see what they have learned.
The visitor is shown many of the famous folks they have heard of and get to learn more about each, but that is just the carrot... so to speak. The exhibit quickly moves into the whole area of the awards system and with many displays brings to the visitor an image, or in many cases an actual medal they can see. Some they can even touch and hold!
The aim of this website and these blogs is to bring you stories of over 100 Canadian war heroes, and those with connections to Canada that have who earned the American Medal of Honor. That aim was expanded several months ago to also include stories about the Canadian Victoria Cross recipients.
A distant relative of my family earned a VC, I have interviewed Canada's last living VC recipient five times and have actually held three different VC medal groupings over the years, 2 dating to the earliest days of the medal in the 1850's. For any military man or woman, you can readily understand such interest since. I have also a very strong interest in the Order of Canada and the Persons Award as my late mother was a very proud recipient of both these, two Queen's, and the Canada 125th medal and of course her WW11 medals.
Thus my strongest of reasons to go to Duncan a few weeks back to view this exhibit and bring you this story.
I was pleased to see the images of the Victoria Cross on static display. The one above tells of the new Canadian medals created a few years back, one being a Canadian version of the British VC. Ours now reads...Pro Valor, for reasons explained in the exhibit. There is also an interesting story about the actual metals used in the building of these new most prestigious awards for heroism.
At the top of the new order of medals are of course the Victoria Cross, the Star of Valour and the Medal of Military Bravery. These form the group called the Military Valour Awards. One of the exhibits actually includes all three in a display. Criteria for each is explained. These are a must to see by all Canadians.
The next three in the order are part of a group called the Decorations for Bravery, and again criteria is available at the exhibits that include actual medals on display. In order, they are the Cross of Valour, the Star of Courage and the Medal of Bravery.
Another one of the VC displays has a wonderful image and details of the actual medal. I was thrilled to see that the web site for this 2 year long exhibit contains quite a lot of images of the tour so far. They show lots of detail, from inside the vehicle and bring you images of visitors and actual recipients to boot. At this site, if you click on an image it contains a brief description of what you are looking at.
At the bottom left of this image is the monument that you saw in my last few blogs for Duncan BC born Major Hoey, who was awarded the Military Cross, and then soon after,.and 60 years ago this week earned his Victoria Cross posthumously. (Covered recently in tis space, he will be again mentioned in Friday's blog.)
This image is an enlargement of that in above picture, 2nd row from bottom and at far right.
As mentioned above, by clicking on the image you get brief details as now seen here on the right.
It is indeed an honour to have appeared on this site.
Note the proud "Heroes Live Forever" cap and the 150th remembrance of the famous 3 days of battle at Gettysburg Pa shirt worn.
There may have been upwards of 700 Canadians on that battlefield and there are certainly dozens buried there today.
Much has been written on this site of my recent 21 day visit to there and Washington DC back in September/October of last year to continue my research on these mostly unknown Canadian heroes.
Here is one of the exhibits for the Order of Canada, It seems to depict an actual ceremony probably at Ottawa for the presentation of medals to new awardees at various levels at one point or another.
Note also the actual medal at lower right
It is fasten to the exhibit by a spring loaded wire so that it can be removed and brought closer to get a better look... and feel.
Throughout out the exhibit there are a number of these, and folks who are really interested get to touch and feel and remember what is it to hold such an honourable and high award created by this great country of ours for our heroes.
I am sure the kids loved them.
The organizers have also given us a treat. They have taken steps to contact actual recipients of the various medals and invited them to come out and see the exhibit as it passed by their locations. Men and woman and children have all come out who are actual recipients. And if you go to see this exhibit you may very well run into one of these heroes and get to shake their hand and hear their stories and share their pride.
Don't forget to thank them for their service! Believe me... it means something to them.
Let me give you an example. Several years ago in Halifax I was riding the bus one day and an older couple got on the bus. The lady was wearing her proud pin that accompanied the Order of Canada. It is a miniature that is worn as a lapel pin. They both were so appreciative. But better yet, the smile that came on her face when I asked what she had done to earn the Order of Canada was indescribable. I think she was just so happy that someone just recognized the incredible award.
Sadly most don't.
There are eight exhibits that are interactive. That means that you can push some buttons to get some info or do some research. In the one above I selected one of many data banks of various medal recipients... that of course being the Order of Canada and typed in my late mother's name. She is listed 2nd from the top on this particular screen.
While at the exhibit in Duncan I was approached by well known Black Press photographer Andrew Leong with the request that he take a few images of my visit. On 5 Feb I was surprised to see that one of his pictures appeared on the very front cover of the paper, shown on the left.
Before ending this blog I want to make special mention of the exhibit to Canadian and now world famous Chris Hadfield. He's the fellow, as if you don't know, who is the first Canadian to have walked in space and has travelled around earth 2,500 times... but mostly he rode... hehe.
Hadfield's message to the young and the old is that you ought not to allow obstructions or obstructionists to get in your way of making dreams come true. And he ought to know. He is afraid of heights!
Yet that did not stop him in helping to build the Canadarm 2...while in space. And having visited two space stations he ended up commanding the international station at the very time that the Canadian government revealed its new $5 bill with images of an astronaut, Canadarm 2 and the two armed robot cutely named Dextre.
His motivating and very inspiring message is brought to the viewer by way of a fascinating hologram, and is in itself, worth the trip to venture out and see this exhibit.
I'll return with some more on the exhibit on Friday.
In the mean time I must mention that most of the images contained here in the last two blogs have been courtesy of Rideau Hall and their on road crew taken since July of 2013 and also to the Cowichan Leader Pictorial.
Today's blog was late because it was soooooooooo long.
See you again tomorrow, and till then Google the ..."It's an Honour" website for lots of great info on this most worthwhile endeavor.
"It's an Honour!" Indeed it is, and Canada's Governor General has put wheels on it so that millions can hopefully see it.
As a kid I grew up in an environment that seemed to do anything but nurture standing up and waving the country's flag. To brag about anything we had done, or continue doing was, as I felt, little short of being a social deviant. We were to tow the line, not rock any boats and keep are heads down...don't ever flaunt the greatness around us... just keeping pushing on. But as I grew I sort of fell off the boat and even though I don't think I can swim... (my belly would probably ensure I'd float) I kept jumping into bigger and bigger fires to do exactly the opposite. To change the no's I heard every day and to pick that flag up and wave it as high as I could. And there were a few more like me. But I recall there was room for thousands more.
Today things are better, but we still need some more long flag poles. And we deserve them. An hour on the web will give you a thousand reasons why we no longer need to look down, not that we ever did mind you.
Today... and for the past 6 months, the Right Honorable David Johnston and others, and with incredible support from the Taylor Family Foundation are taking an exhibit about the Canadian awards programs across the country. These medals and awards celebrate the women, men and youth of Canada whose achievements, courage and dedication to service, exemplify the heart and soul of our nation.
For years I have read about similar programs in the US where various entities had sponsored massive mobile exhibits of their Medal of Honor and taken these out to the people from coast to coast and no doubt to military bases probably all around the world.
Well, now we are coming on board. And it's got to be the best thing since sliced bread for so many folks from all walks of life to see.
Stand aside cause here it comes....
The organizers of the display have determined that many Canadians have relatively quick access to information on the net. Yet some of those same folks are from areas away from the metro urban centers of Canada and cannot readily get to the big cities and towns and their libraries and museums and research facilities. So they decided that for the most part, the TWO YEAR LONG trip across the country and back ought to focus on the smaller communities, and even many of the smaller children's schools.
In late July of last year they started their engine and have not looked back since. In BC alone they had planned on visiting 22 centers, yet by the time they arrived in Duncan BC a few days back they had hit about 30. And from July they have had well over 15,000 visitors with about half being schools up to grade 8.
The exhibit was not well advertised in the metro area and I first heard of it AFTER it had left and moved on to Duncan, from words passed on by two fellow members of the Victoria Genealogical Society. Days before it was here in Victoria and on display at the Government House where the crew of three... Anthony, Katie and Francois greeted some 500 visitors and also had the privilege of meeting our own Lt Governor, the Honorable Judith Guichon. It is my understanding that some also had the amazing view of poor frustrated Anthony who must have cursed the gates and narrow drive he had to negotiate the massive truck through before setting up shop that day.
As I arrived at the Kindergarten to grade 7 school of about 250 students in Duncan, I saw the van parked all set up and ready to go... but not for another 2 hours. On the side are some wonderful graphics. Above and to the right is the Queen's Jubilee Medal, beside it is the Order of Canada and of the highest order... that of a Companion, so indicated by the red maple leaf in its centre. If this were gold, the medal would be for the 2nd level... that of an officer of the order. The third, or lowest is that of an ordinary member and the maple leaf is bronze in colour. In mid July of 2009 there were over 3,200 recipients of this order. Finally depicted is the new Canadian version of the Victoria Cross. Some maple leafs are then scattered about and then the hands of possibly the Governor General pinning an award on someone's chest.
One side of the truck has a duplicate image of the other, except that it is in the official 2nd language as shown above. On the right you can see one side of the van expanded out. The other side does the same and thus allows for well over 1000 feet of display area. The cab of course is at the far right and the back of the van is actually the entry area.
On Wednesday next, I share with you the great exhibits inside.
see you then
Last Friday I started the first part of a story about British Columbia born Charles Hoey who was educated in BC and then ventured off to England. There he joined the army, won a scholarship to attend, and in short order was graduated from Royal Military College at Sandhurst. Then commissioned as a young officer, he was not long in sailing for adventure in Indian and later Burma were his regiment was sent to deal with the Japanese who invaded the British Colony.
The blog left off with his heroism being recognized whilst commanding a special unit sent off to capture an enemy soldier, destroy valuable enemy supplies and gain further enemy intelligence. His unit ended up killing or wounding over 2 dozen while his men only suffering one death and two wounds. He also came out of the mission with mailbags full of documents and was awarded the Military Cross for his bravery.
This action took place in early July 1943 at a place called Maugdaw Burma. (The colony is now called Myanmar.) Maugdaw is marked with the letter "B" above.
Seven months later Major Hoey's regiment was about 175 miles south in the Arakan area of the colony and in a desperate situation at a place called the Ngakedauk Pass. (Marked with the letter "A" above.) Here the British were operating a British post that became famous as the Administration Box due to it being boxed in on all sides by mountainous territory. The Japanese realized what a poor defensive position their enemy was in and daily concentrated the pounding of the British with mortar and artillery fire. They would also conduct raid after raid screaming their terror as they attacked the post, but on most they were repelled.
On one of their better days they managed to attack and take a hospital complex on the edge of the post. Doctors were in mid operations when attacked. The following day the Japanese were driven out and then the horrors discovered. Wounded still lay in their stretchers... slaughtered. The doctors were apparently lined up and all shot. Indian orderlies were taken prisoner and forced to carried wounded Japanese away, and on arrival at their bases, the orderlies were also said to have been murdered.
These actions were supposed to have been a message to the British, but the message they received was anything but terror. The British were now more than ever infuriated with what they found and eager to push on. Into this fell Major Hoey again. He was ordered to sweep the enemy of the high peak of a nearby area known as Point #315, which, because of location, had been causing the British many casualties and damage. Hoey's orders were quite simple. "Take it at all costs."
It was just 2 days after Valentine's Day in 1944 but he did not bring candies and flowers, nor good wishes. Mostly he brought bad. He also brought a company of men with 10 mules carrying mortars, radio supplies and rations for one day. And he brought bren guns and lots of bullets as gifts.
They headed out as the moon rose in a very foggy evening with the hopes of again capturing the enemy off guard. They did so and found many of their foe wrapped in blankets. Warm bullets replaced those blankets. But then reinforcements appeared with concentrated machine gun, mortar and artillery shells. Hoey in the lead, had by then grabbed a fallen comrade's bren gun and was running so fast and shooting it from the hip as he took out soldier after soldier. The rest of his company had a hard time keeping up with him. By the time it was all over he had issued orders for his men to retreat. By that time he was wounded twice... and then an enemy bullet caught him and Hoey's war... and life... instantly came to an end.
A month later, an a special order issued by the regimental Colonel, a report said ... "Let us go into our future battles with confidence and courage that we are better than our enemy. We have recently been sent a very perfect example by Major Hoey. His grim determination, his supreme courage, and his willing self-sacrifice for his cause and his regiment should be an inspiration to all of us."
Major Hoey was awarded the Victoria Cross posthumously for this bravery. Here is the London Gazette's notification of that award.....
Major Hoey's actions that day turned back the battle and it is said the entire campaign, and saw the Japanese... for the first time apparently in history... retreating. And some of those, about 1000 strong had to backtrack though marshes crawling with crododiles. While the air force helped to reduce their numbers, the crocodiles did the rest. 1000 Japanese went into the swamps. Apparently only 10 came out!
Had Major Hoey lived, he would have attended at Buckingham Palace to be presented with his MC and VC. But this was not to be, despite the fact that Hoey was one of only two Canadians who would earn a VC during actions against the Japanese in WW11.
Major Hoey VC, MC was killed on 16 February 1944 and lies at rest today at the Taukkyan War Cemetery in Myanmar.
The image of the Victoria Cross is on the left while the cap badge of his regiment, the Lincolshires is at the right.
Both his MC and VC were forwarded to Ottawa as his mother was to ill to travel. They in turn were forwarded to Victoria BC.
In mid January 1945 an awards ceremony was held at Government House in Victoria. The then Lt Governor, WC Woodward presented several medals, but all eyes were on Mary Hoey as the VC and MC were pinned on her chest. Husband and daughter shared with considerable pride. Pride and grief in the knowledge that unlike others at the ceremony, the Hoey family had suffered not just on a loss... but two. A younger brother...Lieutenant Trevor Ferguson Hoey was serving with the Canadian Scottish and landed at Normandy and died from wounds the next day. (Just two days after the actions that brother Charles would later be awarded the MC for.)
Today at Duncan BC's centre of town and the old railway station there is a small park of about 160 acres. It has been rededicated as the Major Charles Hoey VC, MC, Park and therein is the town's proud cenotaph honoring the war dead of days past. It is pictured at the left. At the above right is one of the faces and close to the bottom are carved in history the names of Duncan boys Charles and right below his younger brother Trevor. Within a few yards is a special plaque honoring Charles. There are other plaques in honour of him elsewhere, including in a town Church, one in England, and along the Cowichan River and at Calgary and of course the names of the brothers also appear in the Books of Remembrance at Ottawa.
The plaque along the Cowichan River was donated by the Burma Star Association and ends with a very moving request of the viewer. It asks that.... "when you go home, tell them of us, and say that for your tomorrow we gave up our today."
Wow! What words to think about !
I had the privilege of viewing the monuments to the great Canadian heroes several days ago at Hoey Park, encourage you to do the same, and I will bring you more on that that story on Friday.
Cheers till then,
The goal was to ... "teach these young people service, integrity, pride, in themselves and their school, faith in God and themselves."
Incredible ideals for Miss Denny and Miss Geoghegan way back in 1921 when they joined forces to start a school they would own and run for at least the next 32 years. They'd name it Queen Margaret's after a school one of them attending in England years before they started teaching themselves. While the goals were obviously instilled in them, how could they in turn, take on such a monstrous task... especially when their new students would start at the kindergarten level.
Of the 14 that first year, that's where Charlie fitted in. He'd been born to a poultry business family, but by then in the real estate profession. The boy only had two years here to grasp such concepts before he moved on to the local grammar school and then to high school. Pride, faith in these schools and service all seemed to come easily to Charlie who would excel in those earliest years in scholastics as well as sports. He'd excel at cricket and rugby and even tennis. He'd also try his hand at scouting and hiking..and then there was a three year stint in the militia in his home town Duncan BC, some 60 miles north of the provincial capital at Victoria.
His militia service saw him soldiering with an artillery unit called the 62nd Field Battery. A unit that would later be amalgamated will the well know, respected and famous Canadian Scottish Regiment of today.
In 1934 Charlie obviously had a lot of faith in himself. The founders of Queen Margaret's had to have been so proud. Here he was about to head of on another hiking trip that would take him all the way to England and self faith enough to join up with the Regular Army. And that's exacly what he did. He signed up with the Queen's Royal Kent Regiment. Within a year Charlie had won a cadet scholarship to The Royal Military College at Sandhurst. In December of 1936 Charlie graduated from RMC, was commissioned and from then on was known as Lieutenant Charles Hoey. He would be immediately posted to the 2nd Battalion of the Royal Lincolnshire Regiment. A unit well known to Charlie. His mother's father was its commanding officer for 25 years, and was probably still serving when he joined up.
After Charles graduated he was allowed a quick furlough back to Canada in late December of 1936. Soon back on the job, he would find himself and his unit sailing off to India.
Charles, possibly in his military uniform in the late 1930's or very early 1940's. One wonders if he every saw the image on the right. It was taken in 1942 and is of the girl guides at his old kindergarten school, Queen Margaret's, and they are sorting out metals gathered for the war effort.
In 1942 the Japanese invaded the British self ruled colony of Burma, now known as Myanmar, and indicated with the letter.."A" above. It was a very long 13,000 miles away from Charlie's hometown of Duncan BC, and marked with the "B" above.
By this time he had been promoted to that of an Acting Major and was the officer in command of B Company of his regiment.
In July of 1943 Major Hoey's company was sent on a highly secret mission to capture military intelligence in the village of Maugdaw located in the north eastern corner of the Bay of Bengal, and marked with an "B" above.
Hoey was to destroy military supplies and capture a prisoner for military interrogation. It was a week long job, aided by the local guerilla forces, and involved the floating of his troops along a river on sanpans. But one of these collapsed in the heavy rainy season. Another recce group got lost, and the company also had a sentry discharge his weapon by mistake, and thus alerting any in the area of their approach.
But nevertheless, Hoeys men did managed to sneak in and start to destroy supplies but about 9 Japanese, stunned by the surprise, came out and were quickly killed. Others soon joined in the fray but Hoey's men managed to kill or wound over 2 dozen enemy, and gathered a supply of mail bags containing rich intelligence info and made their escape despite becoming engaged in heavy Machine Gun battles, the raining down of mortar and the eventual withdrawal when the Japanese brought down artillery fire on them. Hoey's company only had one death and two wounds. His actions were immediately praised by his superiors who noted that it was one of very few bright spots in the campaign to date.
Major Hoey was awarded the Military Cross for his bravery in the mission. Here is the brief London Gazette notice...
Most Gazette entries regarding MC awards simply give the names and dates of event but often provided no further details.
But the London Gazette was not finished with Charles Hoey just yet. More of that on Wednesday next.
See you then.