Both were chased and attacked by a 7 ft or longer, very hungry cougar. The story told of how each was attacked and came to the defense of the other. Both were later awarded the Albert Medal. They were the youngest boy and girl to receive such a high British medal of heroism for civilians. If you missed the story you should have a look at the last blog. It is most interesting, but not well known today.
Regular readers of these blogs know of my deep interest in women's history. That being said, I would like to make ever so brief a mention of a number of women who's service to Canada or within the country that you may not be aware of.
I'll start with a brief mention of Mary (Molly) Brant. An American by birth, she lost her husband when fighting with the British back in the days of the US Revolutionary War. Coming to Canada she became a leader of the Six Nations Matrons and played a major role in negotiating with the native community. She was most instrumental in bring the news that the Americans were about to attack what would much later become the Canada of today.
There is much on the net about her and below is a Canada Post stamp issued in her honour back in 1986.
There are three known Badges of Military Merit in existence today. The stories of these have appeared here in the past. Each is slightly different, clearly showing that each was sewn by hand.
While the three above are apparently the only known Badges in existence today, there seems to have been more than three medals, or at least the certificate that came with the medal that exist. One of these came to a soldier from Quebec. His story I believe has been written about here some time ago.
The Purple Heart is said to be giving life to the long extinct Badge of Military Merit. It has been argued by millions to be the rebirth of the Purple Heart when, prior to its creation In WW11, it did not earlier even exist. The PH today exists as a result of the desire to honor the bicentennial birth of General Washington, the creator of the "Badge." Because it was on blue cloth and in the shape of a heart, the uneducated refer to it as being the Purple Heart, when such is not the case.
That being said, it is interesting to note that when the Purple Heart was created after WW l, and with the interests generated because of the efforts of General MacArthur, the Purple Heart was created. In most places he is credited with being the first ever to receive this medal.
But if truth be told, his wounds qualifying him for the PH came AFTER the date that PEI born nurse Beatrice MacDonald was injured and thus qualified for the medal. So history, like the National Purple Heart Hall of Honor (as verified by them to me in the past) shows that the first PH in its existence, was awarded to MacDonald. Latest estimates have it that some 1.8 million have been awarded. (When created, the legislation allowed for the back dating for award purposes, and thus MacArthur's and MacDonald's awards were made retroactive to their earlier wound dates.
And speaking of WW l medals I would also like to note, as done in past blogs here, that the first ever Distinguished Service Cross and numerous other medals were also awarded to PEI's MacDonald.
Two other women also deserve most honourable mention at this time.
The first being Lenah Sutcliffe, but you might better know her by her married last name of HIGBEE. Covered in earlier blogs, New Brunswick born Lenah married a US soldier by the name of Higbee. In her earlier life she was the US Navy's Superintendent of their Nurses Corps.
While her citation talks about her services at the highest level of her profession, they don't mention that she and three other female nurses became the only females of the day, and it is believed since, that earned the US's Navy's Navy Cross for their work during the 1918 pandemic. I believed three died, and she became the first and only women to be so awarded. (Unless others in recent days have also been so awarded.)
Her husband, a Lt. Col, was buried at Arlington as was she. A US Destroyer was named after her in 1945, and another is in the process of being built with finish dates believed to be in 2024. Yet the first destroyer in her name and the initials MC are lacking on her grave stone. An insult to descendants, the navy and indeed all women of North America. Surely some sort of a descriptive plaque could be placed near bye.
For the non military, the Navy Cross is second only to the Medal of Honor in the hierarchy of bravery medals in the US Navy, US Marines and Coast Guard.
Below are pictures of this hero, an example of her medal and her grave marker.
While on active duty in Belgium, her field hospital was bombed and she was badly injured which eventually resulted in her losing her left foot. She would become the first Canadian women ever to be awarded the French Croix de Guerre medal.
She was also the lone Canadian woman who served in the war and became an amputee, and worked for years for that cause and so many others. Her story is well covered on the internet.
The internet tells great stories of Jemima Warner back in 1775. When her husband went off to war she accompanied him so as to help in event of injury. But when he caught what was probably smallpox she was of little help and he died in Maine.
Rather than returning home she ran to catch up with his regiment carrying his arms and proceeded onto Canadian soil and during the Siege of Quebec she took a British musket shot that killed her. In so doing it is said that she was the first American women ever, to be killed in action.
Many a story is available about women both on the Confederate and union sides in the US Civil War of 1861-5 disguising themselves as men and carrying their muskets into battle. Many were American and a handful were Canadian, or shall I say British North Americans.
Some being killed and only having their sex discovered after death. A few lived after being wounded and allowed to back away quietly before it became well known that they were of the finer sex. Women in men's clothing were found laying dead on the very battlegrounds at Gettysburg.
Moving on, while I cannot locate to citation in my large stash of historic notes, but I believe buried within are notes regarding women serving with the North West Mounted Police in 1873 or 1877 and 1875 during the North West Rebellion in Western Canada.
At least 8 Canadian nurses would serve to the 7000 Cdn men during the Boer war in South Africa.
On Sunday June 28th I will return and pick up this series with events of the Great War and beyond.
Hope to have you join me then,