It is therefore fitting that this week's Victoria Cross blog is about a black man. A man who would not only be the third Canadian to be awarded the Victoria Cross, be the first for our country to be a navy man having done so, and more importantly being the first IN THE WORLD to be a black man who would earn the British Commonwealth's highest medal ever for bravery in the face of the enemy.
William would grow up on a farm and at a very early age probably followed his father off to his trade in ship buiding. At age 15 or 17 William would leave home and get involved in maritime trade on boats between London and Boston. After about 2 years William would enlist and spend the next 2 1/2 years in the US Navy. His first of three vessels would be the USS Franklin pictured above. Little is known of his US Navy experience other than that he also served on the USS Savannah and the USS Ohio and was fighting in the War with Mexico very briefly before his term of enlistment elapsed.
They had been held virtually for months as prisonere until Naval Captain Peel's brigades of sailors and marines arrived. Heated battles led to many dead on both sides. With the ordering of two huge guns to the very front of the wall all of the men from one gun were killed as were many from the 2nd. Hall volunteered to take a position on the 2nd gun and soon all but he and a Lt. were killed but they kept firing away. They had gotten so c;lose to the wall that they were actually protected as the slits for riffle firing were on angles that did not allow them to shoot the two sailors. However, as they continally loaded and fired the guns, the recoil forced the gun backwards and back into the kill zone. Each time it need to be towed back in to load and refire and of course after each firing, again they would have to go out into the kill zone to drag the gun back in. But eventually with continual pounding they drove a hole in the wall... and made it bigger and bigger and ultimatly the brigade could crawl through to the rescue of the officers, their wifes and children.
Willam Hall and the officer... Lt. Young would be later awarded thn Victoria Cross for their incredible, bravery. Hall would continue to serve for many more years and would then return to his hometown in rural Nova Scotia and would work a small farm and live with 2 sisters. When he died, he was buried in an unmarked grave but years later his remains were moved to Hantsport where a monument was created in his honor.
William Hall's Victoria Cross came with a blue ribbon as was the case of all naval VC's until the creation in the early 1900's of the Royal Airforce. At that time the blue was withdrawn from service and all medals from then forth came with the crimson, or as some call it, the red ribbon.
It is my understanding that there has also been a move afoot which is gaining ground at Ottawa for the creation of and mounting of a bust at the Parliament Buildings in his honour.
In addition, for years though recently cancelled I believe due to injuries, there was a naval gun run in which west coast sailors competed with the east coast sailors in a naval gun run. This was in commemoration for the heroism of Mr. Hall. In these events teams would compete to see who was fastest dismantling a field gun, taking it over and obstacle, pitting it back together, firing it, them doing the same in reverse.
But as I say, I beleve this is no longer part of the various military tattoo's in Canada.