Too much birthday celebrating, computer issues and life's usual challenges have caused another blog to be delayed till Wednesday at latest, Sorry folks.
Often the curse of my blog of the week covers not one main theme,but several with updates to report on. The blog often also covers other recipients whose cases still await leads or those shelved and awaiting time to be fully pursued.
Take the case of Newfoundland born Medal of Honor recipient Thomas Kersey. This sailor earned a medal for saving a fellow sailor from drowning in 1876.
Over the past several weeks I have brought news of the finding of a grave in Newport, Rhode Island (shown above) and that a new marker had been arranged but an unveiling ceremony has yet to be planned and implemented.
Confirmation, health and other issues seems to be the cause of the hold-ups but hopefully I can soon bring news about when a ceremony to unveil the new marker will take place.
Another case involves a Civil War soldier who was born in Virginia. He would spend about 15 of the last 30 years of life in Ontario Canada before passing away in New York State and being buried there.
His name was Alonzo Wyman and as the last few blogs have noted, was the subject of 2 very short paragraphs in two 1899 US newspapers. They claimed he was awarded a Medal of Honor, a fact that has yet to be supported by anyone of the many standard authorities on the subject.
After finding the grave marker, I shared this with a descendant who in turn passed along the image below of Mr Wyman apparently in 1913 and at age 84. To his right is one of his daughters... Minnie aged 29, and on his left is Dora, aged 32.
Over the past few days, whilst sitting down and trying to decide what to make note of for today, the usual daily research dropped something else into my lap. Of course completely off topic... if you will.
Here is today's tidbit. I was looking for some info on John Turner, one of the Canadian Victoria Cross recipients who's name is memorialized with one of Mountain Peaks in Jasper. But en-route the tidbit came my way about another one of the 19 Canadian VC recipients so honoured.
That 2nd fellow was John Pattison, a VC recipient for bravery at Vimy. Within several weeks he'd be killed in action near Lens, France. That happened 101 years ago early last month.
The falling tidbit told me that Pte Pattison's VC is held at Glenbow Museum in Calgary Alberta. They have quite a few VC's, and also the very Medal of Honor awarded to Alaric Chapin from Civil War days, complete with musket. It is one of only two MOH known to be on public display in Canada so far and a visit should be a must on your to do list. (Pattison's image is at right)
This bridge was officially opened in 1967 and named in Pattison's honour. On its side a plaque tells part of his story.
Here it is...
You will no doubt recognize the upper picture..from our earlier ten dollar bills. In the larger of the three images above, there are 3 titles reading left to right in the middle of the image. Though most difficult to read, the first at left identifies the position of the Pattison Peak.
Recent blogs brought you news that in the spring, 100 years ago, Victoria Rowland Bourke earned his Victoria Cross and Distinguished Service Order. Tomorrow marks the 100 year mark of the Bourke VC being announced in the London Gazette.
Tomorrow is also the birthday of Haile Se Lassie, Woody Harrelson, Monica Lewinsky and associate Supreme Court Judge Anthony Kennedy. His recent retirement has done wonders for the Trump naming of another judge to the Supreme Court, and heck... we all needs friends in high places.
This completes today's blog.. #450. In a few days I also celebrate a birthday, somewhat less than 450 though!
See you next week.
Last week's blog used the proximity to the 4th of July, the US National Anthem and a famous Union General to lead up to today's story... that might not be!
Clear as mud... right!
Regarding the 4th and the National Anthem, I noted that lawyer/poet Francis Scott Key had been sent to Fort McHenry at the mouth of the Maryland harbour of Baltimore. His job was to exchange some British prisoners for Americans. Having overheard tactical conversations regarding the next day's battle, the Brits then made him a prisoner for the night.
Over the 25 hour dropping of about 1,500 shells on the fort, Key and others were constantly looking out across the harbour to see if the morning would bring them an American or British victory. The result did not please the Brits.
The morning brought Key the news he wanted. Here we see the monstrous fort's flag at full mast and flaunting the British fleet after the attack that saw them soon sail off for battles elsewhere.
This is the Fort McHenry's War of 1812 flag. It was the largest of its kind and so designed that any nation could identify it from afar. It measured 30 ft high and had 35 stars, 2 ft wide and 15 stripes of same thickness. Note the soldier standing in front of it (lower right) at a later display.
The last blog also told the story of Key's son, a womanizer, who was killed in the street across from the White House by a politician with a dubious character on many fronts. That politician was Danial Sickles, who, like Key also liked the women, no mater their marriage status. But when it came to his wife, a women 17 years his younger, his tolerance was somewhat lessened. He shot and killed Key, not once but three times, for the affair with his wife. A later court found him temporarily insane and thus not guilty.
A few years later the country was at war again... and in the with early stages of Civil War between the States. The once insane Sickles, now a politician, and given the rank of Colonel started off to war. Promotions to Brig. General and Major General soon followed.
It would be at Gettysburg that the Union general would be thought to be either a genius or a scoundrel. In the process of causing many lost lives by ignoring commands re troop deployment, he was shot off his horse probably by a 12 pound cannon ball or shrapnel.
Slipping off his horse he would be hauled by several men, and/or officers to a farm house and within the hour his leg was amputated. Sickles survived the operation and donated his leg to an army hospital museum. It's been said that he would drop in for a visit with it on special occasions.
If memory serves right, I recall a story of Sickles and another Union general who also lost a leg in battle. The two would sometimes go and buy one pair of shoes, and each take one shoe.
Meet a part of General Sickles... and a 12 pound cannonball.
Like so many other Medals of Honor,.. Sickles would be awarded one some 33 years after the battle. There could be many reasons for the delay, including the fact that he may have nominated himself so many years later when seeing so many others do the same thing.
Regardless. 2 years after that, like a flash in the dark a story emerged, to disappear as quickly. It told the reader that in October 1899 a soldier was also awarded the MOH. This apparently for being one of the soldiers who helped to get Sickles to safety after he was shot.
This appeared in a Buffalo NY newspaper on 11 October 1899. On the 12th the following appeared in a Detroit newspaper...
While very vague in details, both clearly say that Mr Wyman was awarded a Medal of Honor, was living in Canada and was involved in the rescue of Sickles during the Battle of Gettysburg. Having a pretty good handle on the Canadian recipients, this article caught my attention. I had never heard of him before.
To begin, if an accurate story, it is one to be covered by my work. And on thought, even if not, covering the story for what it is, should also be covered.
There are quite a few places that the reader can go to determine if someone is or is not a recipient of the MOH. Our Medal of Honor Historical Society of the US, is one. The Congressional Medal of Honor Society is another. Their foundation is a third. Find a Grave is another. The net is full of lists though many have wrong, missing or not up to date information.. There are many books on the subject that list who got a medal, when and for what. But sadly many of all the above do not list most of those who got pushed under the bus in the 1916 Purge of which much has been said in this place.
I cannot find any reference to Alonzo P Wyman in any of the above sources and many others to boot. His was not apparently one from the Purge.
The US Parks Service and Fold 3 shed no light on the medal but do give brief info on the individual.
Pension cards, descriptive cards, muster rolls and more still shed no light. A very careful read of almost 135 pages of an Army Pension File from DC, courtesy of a great researcher in the area who has often come to my aid in the last several years, copied every one of those pages for us to both look at... and nothing is found within that talks about any Medal of Honor.
Here is Wyman's Pension Index Card. Sometimes these cards have a MO or MOH stamp or a handwritten note on the card that the soldier, sailor etc was a recipient of the medal. However none of this is on the card.
His personal files show that he was married twice and outlived both wives. Neither applied for any pension re his service, according to the above card. He applied and received a pension for one of the two injuries he sustained. A most serious musket shot to the chest that traveled through his body and out the left side. It and other complications from war conditions resulted in a monthly pension of $2, slowly adjusted to about $30 monthly.
This card also shows service in the 72nd New York Infantry, then the 172 NY Infantry and finally to the Veterans Corps. His Gettysburg service would have been while with the 72nd.
A gem on this card is the stamp at top...DEAD, and footnote at bottom that he died of 4 Feb. 1918 and even where he lived at the time... at Elliottsville NY
Muster rolls often give details about MOH awards. The above 1st roll comes from the unit, and the lower one is from NY State. Neither mentions the MOH. One only mentions one wound , the other no mention of either wound. But dates and places of service are given.
From an internet search of his unit, this document lists engagements from October 1861 till December of 1863. From this you can highlight the times Alonzo was in the 72nd New York, though that task alone does not confirm his attendance in the battle listed. He could have been AWOL, or MIA, in hospital or off on an attachment with another unit or simply sick at camp and not available for battle on any particular date.
But regardless, his pers. file shows he participated in between 5 and 6 major battles which took him from Aug 26 1862 through to December of 1863. He received a minor lip and jaw musket ball wound at Chancellorsville but he was away from the front for just a few days. His major injury as above noted was during the Mine Run Campaign. That wound saw him in hospital for the rest of the war.
Alonzo and wife Jane raised 8 children. Shortly after her death in 1874 he would marry a Mrs. Cook but that union did not last long.
Alonzo took up residence in the Hamilton Ontario area in the mid 1880's and probably remained there till about 1903. During his later years he frequented the US Consulate offices on a very regular basis about pension matters. Often several times a week. Consul files show that officials including the consul himself took great interest in Alonzo and thought very highly of him, as did a dozen or more who gave sworn statements of praise re his war and later life style and habits. But none... including the consul staff mentioned in the Pers file made any references to either Gettysburg or the MOH.
One would think that had such been awarded they would have very well known about it and made reference to the fact as they advocated and articulated their respects for him, his need for increased pension due to worsening health, having a meager existence and unable to work for 5 or more years and that the consul staff alone had known him.
I have located Alonzo's final resting place at the Crawford Cemetery at Salamanca New York. The same family plot is shared with his wife Jane and son Frank.
I have also located an obit, shown below.
Note no notice of Gettysburg service or the Medal of Honor in the obit.
I have also been put in touch with relatives who I understand where to meet on this topic a few days back. I wait further communications from them.
As updates come in I shall pass them along in this space.
cheers till next Sunday,
If we listened closely back on July the 4th, or indeed on most days of the year we would have heard a story through a poem. But we had to actually really pay attention to the words to understand them. How many of us did?
It begins with the famous line... "O say can you see by the dawn's early light..." Each of its 4 stanza's end with the emotional, and powerful ... "O'r the land of the free, and the home of the brave." Words as important today as when penned in 1814. Probably as important as "Four score and seven years ago."
The multi talented poet was Francis Scott Key who made his living as lawyer, and in fact District Attorney for New York. It was during the War of 1812 that he sought and received permission from the President to sail off to Fort McHenry, Baltimore to exchange some prisoners of war.
Under a flag of truce Francis Key sailed into about 15 or 20 Royal Navy ships about to begin a 25 hr bombardment of the American Fort. Taken onboard, he would overhear conversations about attacking strategies to be followed, Thus the Brits held him overnight to prevent their plans being revealed.
The poem he wrote was about the bombardment and anxious awaiting the clearing of the air the following morning to see what flag... Brit or Yank, would be flying " O'r the land of the free and the home of the brave."
Key spent the night on board his ship at lower right. Baltimore lay just off the map at upper left, and its primary protection was afforded by the star shaped massive Fort McHenry at the entrance to its harbour.
Perhaps with too much gusto under their belts, what with the recent burning of the White House, the Brits fired some 2500 shells over 25 hours on the fort. But with the massive rains, many of shell fuses did not ignite. By early morning the Brits moved on and ... "the flag was still there." Months later the war would be at an end.
The choice of Key's penned "land of the free," no doubt spoke of the concept of being free from the British. But as a pro slaver and owner of same, his choice of words ought to raise a few eyebrows.
Key's flag of truce, of sorts could be said to be in the family jeans. Perhaps literally.. hehe
Back in Washington Francis Key's son liked women. Many of them. Some married, some not so. And one of them had the same passions in life. As did her 39 year old husband Daniel who was known for also liking many women, married of not, and prostitute or not.
As time went on, Key's son Phillip and Daniel's 22 yr old wife Teresa became less and less secretive about their affair. Some have it that he carried a pole with a handkerchief on it and waved it about from a little distance away from DC's Lafayette Square where the wife would eventually see it and make her way to meet and greet.
Others say the last straw was him simply walking past Teresa's window and waving his hancky so that they could have their pancky. Trouble however was that it would be Danial and not the wife who saw it. Couple this with the fact that he had by then received a poison pen letter from a third party telling him about the affair. So he grabbed his guns, went outside and shot Phillip Key several times killing him in Lafayette square right across the road from the White House.
Danial was charged with murder. A several day trial ended up with his chief Council, none other than Edward Stanton, arguing successfully that his client was not guilty by reason of temporary insanity. He apparently having lost his mind in grief over what his wife was doing.
It would be the first time in US criminal history that the defense would be successfully argued. Two years later Stanton would serve his country in the Civil War as the country's Secretary of War, and has been often mentioned in this space.
In that same war Daniel would become a Brig General and then Major General, and it is in that capacity that the story that might not be a story is next due up. But it is too late today, so it comes to you next Sunday,
cheers till then,
The last week has found me having my usual health issues.
It also has brought the discovery of a fellow that perhaps ought to have been awarded a Medal of Honor for Civil War actions, but wasn't, and another from the same war who's case continues to bring in tidbits but no smoking guns yet supporting newspaper claims that he had recipient status. Initial checks have failed to see him clear the normal checks and balances, but more work is needed on this front.
Couple all of this with running around to facilitate a wonderful reunion 40 YEARS in the making for 3, and 38 YEARS for a 4th attendee, and I in Victoria BC and a planned blog for tomorrow, which has now been shelved till next Sunday,
Happy Birthday to all our men and women in uniform, to the past members, their families and descendants for tomorrow... Canada Day. I hope many a Canadian MOH grave will be visited tomorrow, including those of Joseph Noil in DC and Arlington and hopefully others across the US and Canada.
I will be out celebrated all day instead of being behind my keyboard, but will see you in a week's time,
His childhood sister thought Buddy meant Brother and so Buddy..and later Bud became his nicknames. But David Ernest Hornell didn't need nicknames to make it through life. Just an incredible desire to do what's right and to reach out to serve those in need when and if it came.
And boy did it ever!
It all started at the little island in Lake Ontario called Toronto Island, which houses one of the busiest airports in the entire country. (The buzzing must have gotten to Bud as you shall soon see.)
Many claim that Buddy was born in 1910 at a small community called Mimico...about where the first arrow at left and above is pointing. But he in fact was born on Toronto Island.. at far right. Traveling eastbound the center arrow points to Grenadier Pond, a great recreation area itself, and within what is called High Park, one of the largest in the city. Just beyond the tip and to the left is a small street of about 2 dozen homes. I grew up, or as some claim... just got older... living in one of these with my 3 sisters, one brother and parents.
When in my early teens my Mom asked me one day where I went riding my bike. I said There was a big garden on the side of the road and a sign that said ..ET..I..bok. She got a laugh as everybody else just called it Etobicoke. (E..tow..bi..co)
After his sister was born, Buddy's mother passed away. The two children were then sent to live at an Aunt's home whilst getting initial schooling in Mimico and then onto high school, probably first at Western Technical Commercial High School (which I also attended with 2 sisters) and then later returning to Mimico High School were he graduated with honours and a scholarship to pursue a university ed- ucation, based on his receiving nine first class honours and gifted athletic status to boot.
Buddy chose instead to accept a position in the research labs of the Goodyear Tire Company. After all, it was during the Depression years and he needed a steady income.
But things soon changed. He knew that because of the importance of the Goodyear work for the war efforts, he was not in fear of pressures to join up. But he then wanted to do his bit. Many of his relatives and friends had already done so. But age was becoming a problem. A new training program had a cut off of age 31. He was just weeks shy of this.
So he made, what he later called a "Rash Decision." He enlisted in the RCAF. Several courses has to be taken in PEI, northern Vancouver Island, Montreal, Quebec, Victoriaville Que, and Goderich Ont. By September he would be presented with his pilot's wings.
Duties would then have him working out of the Halifax Dartmouth area bases and patrolling along the eastern seaboard of Canada and out into the North Atlantic.
It would be during the 60th patrol, and with some 600 hrs of patrol flight under his belt,that Buddy would find himself as the Captain of his twin engine Canso bomber on yet another run.
Shown above as a jnr. officer, he would on this day hold the rank of Ft Lt, He would be flying his warplane as part of the 162nd Bomber Reconnaissance Squadron RCAF out of Northern Scotland on another 12 hr patrol. It had been uneventful and about to end, but then took a drastic turn.
He and a crew of 7 others, all Canadians, were aboard the plane on 24 June,. 74 years ago today at about 6.30 p.m. and flying North of Scotland and probably a few hundred miles north of the Shetland Islands and between Iceland and Norway when they realized they were not alone.
It was a German Submarine, and it was NOT submerged. Worse yet, it also saw Buddy's plane and instantly started firing surface to air fire with very good aim. Two large holes were shot through the wings. One engine was hit bursting into flame and trickling oil spills started while the plane became to shaky to control and had to be ditched atop a high wave.
But before that happened the gunners were able to bring fire from their cannons onto the sub but then one set got jammed. All this from about a 1200 yd range and closing fast. An engine falling off didn't do much to help the airmen.
But the Captain did manage to correctly position the plane to drop down and over the sub while dropping 4 charges that raised the entire sub out of the water and then she sank. Germans were soon struggling for their lives in the debris.
Since the plane's aerials were damaged they could not call for help. While equipped with two 4 man dinghies, only one worked and could not hold all the men. Two soon were lost to the frigged waters. The rest agreed to take turns in and out of the lone craft. Another plane many hours later saw the men and dropped an inflatable but the winds took it over 500 yards away from them and they did not have the strength to fetch it. The rest waited almost 21 hours till finally rescued. Buddy was going blind and after all of the exposure passed away while being escorted to aid.
This may be one of the last pictures of Flight Lt. Davis E Hornell, VC It appears that the award was not published in the London Gazette till the 28th of June, and of course was a posthumous award. Thus, curious that this picture seem to have him wearing the ribbon for the VC.
Hornell was only 34 years old when he was killed in action. His VC is said to be the first of only 3 for the RCAF in WW11.
This painting tells the story of the air to sea battle on 24 June 1944.
Buddy lies at rest at the Lerwick Cemetery at the Shetland Islands.
The Royal Canadian Air Cadets have a squadron named in Buddy's name in the Toronto area. Their web site has many interesting pictures and some great videos of their drill teems hard at work. Google them.
The Government of Ontario has helped the community recognize and keep the Hornell story alive with this plaque outside the school it has named in this hero's name in Mimico, just outside of Toronto
At the Toronto inner harbour you can even take a ferry across to Toronto Island. The ferry is also named in honor of Buddy.
Even the Canadian Airplane Museum at Hamilton Ontario have done their bit to preserve this part of Canada's heritage. They have I believe an actual Canso plane painted in his colours and numbers.
see you next week,
Ongoing research necessitates a shorter blog today.
To begin, I want to mention that many months ago I came across a wonderful story of a US Medal of Honor recipient. He was on such a secret mission that...for years the government could not come forth with his story, and that of the men with him during the Vietnam War.
It is such a great story that I want to suggest that you view it and sit back and wonder where you and I would be today without men and women like this fellow and his comrades, and the thousands and hundreds of thousands in uniform that have given us, regardless of what side of the 49th you live on, the freedoms we enjoy today, and far too often take for granted.
This man was a Sergeant at the time, but many years later he arrived at DC wearing the uniform of a retired Captain with over 2 decades of service under his belt.
His story can be viewed here... https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OlTvdqe_Bo8
I will not give further details... you must go out to get them. And you will be pretty proud when you read about this hero, and why he was summonsed to Washington DC to be presented with a Medal of Honor.
Whilst on the net recently I again came across the entire ceremony and again, as before was riveted to the story.
My only chagrin was that whilst the President read from his teleprompter the words of wisdom of whomever, those providing the words ought to have known better, to NOT refer to the medal repeatedly as the CONGRESSIONAL Medal of Honor, as there is no such thing.
One would think the very man holding the power to award or not, ought to have been so advised over the past year of making this mistake. Trouble is it is oft repeated by many in authority and many in the press on a routine basis.
That said, the ceremony was wonderful and even included the very important message from the President that... "the medal will forever enshrine him in the history of the nation."
While not wishing to take away form the great ceremony, I still think about the other side of the story, one documented in this space often.
Perhaps some day someone will take on the challenge of articulating before the government the many cases of those who became victims of the illegal purge of 1916, and see to it that their descendants can finally get some enshrining for their forefathers.
In late October 2017 President Trump presented the Medal of Honor to retired Captain Gary Michael Rose at the White House. Witnessing the important event were about a dozen other MOH recipients, many of the Captain's comrades from years earlier, many other vets, politicians, bureaucrats and family.
Moving on, I still await further developments regarding the new marker for Newfoundland born Ordinary Seaman Thomas Kersey.
Kersey was serving on the USS Plymouth back in July 1876 when a shipmate fell overboard whilst at the navy dockyard at NY. He dove in and rescued the fellow and was awarded a Medal of Honor a short two weeks later for this life saving, at the risk of losing his own. (And 2 days before that awarding sailors Powers and Connolley would also save a life, but this time to a visitor to the USS Plymouth, while in harbour at Halifax Nova Scotia and would also later be warded Medals of Honor.) The only time in the history of the medal that it was awarded for actions within Canadian waters.)
This is believed to be an image of the USS Plymouth at about the time of the rescue.
Kersey would serve another dozen years and whilst in Massachusetts he took sick and sent to the naval hospital there where he passed away in 1888.
For years many people have tried in vain to find his actual grave. But it has now turned up in a family plot in Newport Rhode Island.
As you can see, the old marker needs some attention. A new marker indicating that he is a Medal of Honor recipient has been installed, and we await details of a formal unveiling.
On another front, about a month ago I was doing internet searches of a particular recipient when three other stories jumped out at me.
One was on Sgt Charles McGillivary, PEI born Medal recipient for bravery in taking out several German machine guns nests during the Battle of the Bulge in WW ll. Of course the 1945 article made repeated references to WINING the medal and calling it by the wrong name, but it had another glaring error.
It noted that the 1945 awarding of the MOH to a native Canadian was the first ever in the war. No doubt the US Coast Guard would have been upset about reading of that when of course Vancouver BC born Douglas Munroe was killed in action at Guadalcanal, saving some 500 marines and sailors lives and was awarded the medal posthumously THREE YEARS before McGillivary's award.
A second story found told readers that a road at Fort Bliss in Texas has been named after the Colonel of the 15th Cavalry. That fellow was George Horace Gilmore, a Canadian. A base of Bosnia was also named in honour of this officer who earned a Medal of Honor during the Indian Wars, and carried the bullet near his heart for some 60 years before it moved and finally took its toll. Georg's father, also a Canadian, was a General during the Civil War and was one of at least 10 Canadians carrying that rank during that war, despite less than half that number being credited by many a web site. And the General also has a street..or avenue in Minnesota named after him for his bravery during the Civil War.
But of much interest to me is the short story found in 2 newspapers about a fellow from eastern Canada, who according to the papers, receive a Medal of Honor in the mail through Canada Customs from the US. He apparently earned it for helping to rescue the terribly wounded General Sickes from the battle filed at Gettysburg.
But I can not find any verification in the normal places re the story's legitimacy.
Another story has also just cropped up days ago about a fellow who apparently came from France to the US, earned a medal, married and dies and a child that moved to Canada. I wonder if the recipient came to Canada before going to the US, or if the child coming to Canada brought the medal with him, and if it is still here somewhere.
More to follow up on.
In the mean time use the search engine at this site to review the stories above referred to and also have a look at stories of Joseph Robinson, Michael McCarthy and Benjamin F Youngs. They all earned their Medals of Honor for actions on today's date..17 June.
back next week,
A few days back I brought you the first part of a story about the new Afghanistan Memorial at Victoria BC, mounted and dedicated last September. I noted that in looking at internet figures, I calculated that we had an almost one in five casualty rate during our most honourable participation in that 12 year War.
Yet another battle of world renown has the same casualty rate. And that was for just the first day when all losses, wounded, Killed In Action, MIA, etc apparently saw one in five yet again, but this time the 20% were from some 206,000 from both sides in battle. You will hopefully remember the names of the five beach heads...Utah, Omaha, Gold, Juno and Sword, during the Normandy landings. These were spread along some 50 miles of French coastline 74 yrs ago today, in what we now refer to as D Day.
Getting back to the Afghanistan story, if you walk 2 blocks north from our fabulous Legislative Buildings and another 2 blocks east you will be standing almost in front of this most dignified memorial that gives you the names of the 158 service men and women and another five names of civilians who lost their lives in our service and to the country of Afghanistan. A message that was very clearly delivered by that nation's Ambassador to Canada who repeatedly mentioned in her speech that the service of these men and women and Canada will NOT BE FORGOTTEN by her country.
It is believed that this memorial may well be the only one that shows an image of a child. How fitting. Along the very edge of the memorial is a small children's park. We can only hope that these innocent youth will ask their Mommies and Daddies to tell them the story that the memorial will be telling the adults. The story that we came to Afghanistan not only to fight... but to reach out and help wherever we could...and did.
The actual dedication, speeches, and unveiling have been preserved for future generations in a video at the Society's own web site. The video and details about the background work and unveiling can be seen at ... https://vicafghanistanmemorial.ca/ and I would highly recommend you not only watch it, but pass it on so that others can also benefit form this work and become better informed on Canada's role over those years so far away from home.
In order to do the actual unveiling, Lt Governor Guichon and one member from each of the Memorial Cross families, were invited to move closer to the monument. Then the Lt. Governor and the society's President, Brig, General Larry Gollner removed the actual ribbon. This followed with dignitaries, and then the public being invited to approach the marble marker and those wishing to do so, also placing their own poppies at its base. Here I also complied. (Note that the engravings on this side. are in French, while the other is in English.)
These are the two interpretation panels before installation. They add so much to the story not told by reading the lines of names of these latest heroes from Canada.
And we would be doing an incredible dis-service to each one of these men and women, if we did not also recognize their brothers and sisters who came home with the physical scars, and even deeper, those who's injuries are not in the form of a scar. Men and women who need our attention as we now are the ones to be called upon with our hands out-stretched to show them our kindness and desire to help them make it through another day, week, month and year.
And we'd best not forget the families and loved ones who will need our tender support each and every day that we are blessed to be in their company.
The theme of the Interpretation Panels is broken down into several parts in order to tell rolls played by The RCMP, the Navy, Army and Air Force. Have a close look at the web site given above for some of the stories of what these men and women did for Afghanistan, and the world. Efforts to continue the nurturing of the wonderful reputation our forefathers and our foremothers planted with the seeds of their efforts.
I again encourage you to have a good look at their site..and pay attention to it.
Rumblings are that there will be an announcement in the weeks to come with regards to keeping these stories alive. Can't wait to hear more, and will bring this to you when I get it.
Here we see John Azar, one of the Society's Board Members and a major DOER in the metro area on many things touching on military history.
John helped to design the signs and explains some of the background behind their creation. He and the society hope they will help tell the story for folks who walk by, see the gorgeous monument and step closer to better appreciate it.
The Society President, Brig. General Gollner is standing to the Lt Governor's right. He looks on with pride at what all those behind the scenes accomplished over the past five years plus, to ensure that we indeed will not forget Canada's role in Afghanistan.
Here we see the signs installed, and a new flowered bed that shall soon turn into a wonderful play area for the children. Just off to the right of the bottom stands the memorial.
The courthouse is off to the right of this picture. John tells me that those that do not stop to investigate this memorial will be marched off to to court house and charged with being poor citizens. (Just fake news I think!)
Jane and Richard Nuttall of Victoria BC lost their 30 year old son in Afghanistan. Young Lt Nuttall was killed from one of the deadly weapons known as an IED, an Improvised Explosive Device, that took so may lives in that war.
Richard serves as a member of the very committee that worked so hard to honour his son, the 162 other heroes named above. They, and the entire Canadian contingent, those with boots on the ground in the air, at sea, and also back home.
Please note the Memorial Cross both parents are wearing. I believe I brought you a story in this space about the creation of that medal a few months back. If not I will bring it forth soon. Mrs. Nuttall points to her son's engraved name on the marker. At least a dozen of the names are of members with BC connections.
If you look at 4 lines above Mrs Nuttall's hand you will see the name of Nichola Goddard. Her story has appeared in this space and is as equally tragic as each of the 163. She was the first Canadian woman to die in battle while in service to Canada.
Captain Goddard died while leading a patrol in Afghanistan on May 17 2006.
On May 18 I was doing research at Canada's wonderful War Museum at Ottawa. l and my sisters and their husbands also were in Ottawa to bury our parents ashes at Canada's national cemetery... Beechwood, where Captain Goddard would also be laid to rest in the weeks to follow.
As I wondered about the building I ended up in what is known as the Memorial Hall, a very dark room with only one window up very high and near the ceiling.
This and many other parts of the complex are built architecturally to give impressions of buildings being destroyed in battle. But the Memorial Hall is different. It is designed with just that one window. At 11 o'clock on November 11th , the sun shines a beam of light right into that window... giving the only light in the room. And it comes to rest on the opposite wall just above the floor. And in that very spot is the last grave marker brought home from the war for an UNKNOWN SOLDIER and it is lit up for all to see.
I was in that room the day after Captain Goddard lost her life. Her image was in papers all across the country. Someone clipped it and put it on top of the grave marker. And it was there when I entered the room. Something I have never forgotten to this day.
Sunlight showing its power.
A hallway with walls appearing to be falling over from bombings etc. And without a tour guide you might think the holes at the left, and high up are just cannon fodder. Not so.
In Morse code they spell out a message... in both French and English... Lest We Forget!
But back to Victoria and the Afghanistan Memorial.
Mr. and Mrs. Nuttall pointed out the inscribed name on the memorial of another of the five Canadian women killed in the war. Her name was Michelle Lang, a reporter from Calgary. The last story she wrote was about the tragic death of Lt Nuttall. A week later she would join him in death.
And you will remember my friend Major Carter in the last blog. One of his missions was called off as less troops were thought to be needed. But in THAT very mission Michelle Lang... the reporter, and four others were killed, and another five injured.
We'd best all learn to appreciate more what we have to day... and continue to find ways to paying for it.
Neil Armstrong once said that ... "this was a small step for man, and a giant leap for mankind." July 20th 2019 will mark the 60th year since he walked on the moon. (and in his pocket was a small piece of fabric. It was the Armstrong tartan.)
The Greater Victoria Afghanistan Memorial Project Society, have in their own way taken one of these steps.
Lest We Forget!
I will be taking more training this weekend to improve my computer skills and will not be back here till the following Sunday,
Canadians served in Afghanistan for over a dozen years. It was our longest war ever. Internet sites show we had 635 wounded,1417 non-battle injuries, and Post Traumatic Stress cases totaling 13.27% of our total 40,000 men and women who served. That's 5,280 cases. Add all of these numbers up and couple these with the 158 service members and 5 civilians killed will get you get 7,495 casualties. That's 18.7%, or almost 1 in 5.
Perhaps with numbers still coming in years ago, and the visiting of NB and probably some sort of memorial there, Victoria City councillor Chris Coleman returned home to spread word on an idea for a local monument. It quickly resonated on several fronts.
This would morphe into actions that would see the eventually unveiling of a gorgeous memorial just blocks from the provincial capital buildings in Victoria. It would honour those who gave up their tomorrows so that we could have our todays. It would honour also those who came home with injuries, be they medical, or post traumatic in nature. And it would also honor the immediate and extended families, loved ones and friends who also must carry the burdens of war.
This most impressive group, mostly veterans, several holding the rank of Lt Colonel and above, including at least 2 Brig. Generals, are the driving force leading to the creation of the Memorial. They call themselves the Greater Victoria Afghanistan Memorial Project Society.
Because of their accomplishment their picture should appear in newspapers across the country. And mounted in every mess hall and military establishment across the country as well. Front and center, though difficult to read, is their leader, their President. His name is President..Brig. General JEL (Larry) Gollner OMM,CD, the former Colonel of the PPCLI.
Here is another picture that should be widely spread.
This Canadian army signalman is former Corporal Michael McCauley who, at the time was serving in Afghanistan when he reached down to shake hands with his newfound friend. (He is now a Lt. and working out of New Brunswick.)
Because it is so symbolic of our role to help where and whenever we can, the society chose this picture over many, many photos to be depicted as the lone image on the new memorial.
In late September of last year a most formal and impressive ceremony took place to unveil this new addition to the important Military memorials located throughout the greater Victoria area.
Four Honour Guards, one for the navy, army, air force and RCMP, where sharply assembled under the capable command of the Lt Col. Sawyer, commanding Officer of the Canadian Scottish (since retired). A fifth guard was formed on site for any veterans of the Afghanistan War, and I do believe it became a larger guard than any of the other four.
As the various dignitaries arrived, some even from our nation's capital, they would receive the salute from several hundred service men and women. There were at least five from the general ranks, including a full 4 star retired general. Other special guests included local, provincial and federal politicians, the clergy, various cadet entities, police, first aid, and most importantly the Memorial Cross families who had lost a son or daughter, father or mother, brother or sister, a loved one or very special friend, who's name has now been preserved for all to see for all time.The society's Patron was our own BC Lt Governor, Her Honor Judith Guichon. (recently retired)
After receiving her Royal Salute, the Lt Governor is shown in first of two pictures above, as she inspects her troops. Below we see our recently elected Premiere, the Honorable John Hogan also inspecting and greeting those on parade. Here the premiere is escorted by LT. Colonel Sawyer of the Canadian Scottish.
The guard being inspected in both cases is that of the vets who served in Afghanistan. This veteran of some 35 yrs service, now retired, well medalled and sharply attired is Major Hue Carter of the Canadian Scottish. He holds the distinction of also being a qualified Lt. Colonel.
Hue Carter and I have known each other for about 40 years, and actually served together most briefly back in Gagetown NB whist we attended our Master Warrant Officer course in 1979. He would later be promoted to Chief Warrant Officer and served with the Scottish as their RSM many years ago and before taking a commission and following in the footsteps of his father, also a Lt Colonel I believe.
When asked how he felt about the parade and the memorial he expressed his deep concern for those who did not come home, and added that he almost joined in that number... but more on that later. He also added his incredible pride for the service of all those on parade and humbled at being invited from those witnessing the parade from the sidelines, to actually join in with the other Afghanistan veterans. But he did add that he has strong wished that Canada would not have to yet again see our men and women in harm's way.
Many of the dignitaries took to the podium to remark about our service to those in need in far away places, and most acknowledged that our hosts around the world have the same pride in Canada as we ourselves have, but too often are reluctant to admit.
The Afghanistan Ambassador to Canada, Her Honor Shinkai Karokhail has to be listened to very carefully due to the language barriers, and no doubt, she is shown her struggling to concentrate on what others were also saying.
Her message was that so much has been accomplished over the years for the women and children of Afghanistan and gave incredible figures of school attendance by young girls that so many years ago was unheard of. The Ambassador's message of walking the road so alone for women's rights for decades reminded me so much of my own upbringing and stories passed down to me about my mother's 50 plus years of struggling on the womens' issues front.
In an ever so brief few minutes I told her of how proud my mother would have been of her work, and she then returned the same comments about Mom, and noted her familiarity with the Canadian struggle regarding the famous Person's Case and was quite pleased to learn that in just a few days It would be October and once again be celebrated as Womens' History Month. A battle my mother and two others from the Victoria area carried for over a year till reaching the wonderful conclusion that all women... and men today can celebrate.
As health kept me from bringing this story to you on Sunday, and only partially today, I will return tomorrow or Wednesday to complete this blog.
Regular followers of these blogs can not be faulted if they get confused sometimes. Today's could add to this.
Just a few blogs back I brought you the story of Daniel CHAPLIN, a Red Bank New Brunswick born who was killed in action during the Civil War. At death he was posthumously promoted to Brig. General and also Maj. General at the same time. He probably ought to have been a recipient of the Medal of Honor, but wasn't.
Earlier blogs have brought you the story of American born Alaric CHAPIN, who earned a Medal of Honor during the Civil War which is now on display with other artifacts including his musket in Calgary Alberta.
Still other blogs have told of a fellow named John CHAPMAN, again a Civil War Medal of Honor recipient. He was thought to have been born in New Brunswick, but later evidenced with a birth in France. AND THE TRUE SURNAME KAUFFMAN
Too many, CHAPS some may claim!
Today's story is an update to the third CHAP's story. It comes as a result of a reader asking for clarification regarding three ships he was on, when most only know of one. I'll get to that, but first a few comments about his Medal of Honor, earned while he was in the army.
Above is an extract from muster files for the 1st Maine Heavy Artillery. It shows that John Chapman was 20 years old when he signed up for 3 yrs service and assigned to B Company.
From past blogs you will recall that this regiment was raised by guess who, another "CHAP," Daniel Chaplin from New Brunswick.. The very officer being mentioned above, but killed in action by the time John came to unit.
The Union Army had several important success as it fought through the battles of the Wilderness, Spotsylvania, Cold Harbour, Petersburg and Sayler's (AKA Sailer's) Creek. Canadians probably fought in all these battles, and came home with Medals of Honor from several.
In fact, it is interesting to note that at Spotsylvania, just below Fredericksburg a Canadian soldier by the name of Jerry Cronan, who served in the Confederate Army's 10th Louisiana Infantry was killed. He is the only Cdn. Confederate soldier believed to be buried at the famous Arlington Cemetery in DC.
John Chapman and about 58 other Union soldiers were awarded Medals of Honor for their 6 April actions at Sayler's Creek Virginia. John's official date for the award was May 10th.
Some internet records show that 8 of these were for gallantry, one for capturing a General and, we assume, the rest, like Chapman's, were for the capture of enemy flags.
But with the use of the word...gallantry, it seems there is an implication that all but the 9 above... were NOT for gallantry. For those that understand the duties of flag bearers, noted often in this space, a lack of bravery... on either side of the conflict does not do the recipient any justice. Adding to this dis-service, often the description in official documents of the deed performed is limited to just... "capture enemy flag."
Within a week the war effectively came to an end, though some resistance saw fighting continue at distant places and some with combatants not even knowing it was over. President Johnson finally signed documents ending the war with the 20 August 1866 surrender of the Confederate's last war ship whilst at Liverpool.
This interesting newspaper article from 1865 is written by Major General Meade to Brig General Townsend, one of the original founders of the MOH, but now the Assistant Adjutant General of the US Army. He advised that the 13 men identified were being escorted to Washington with the very flags they captured at Sayler's Creek. The General advised that each was given a 30 day furlough and recommends they all get Medals of Honor.
Note Chapman's name at the bottom of the first portion. Note also Asel Hagerty's name (misspelled) a few lines above his. He was also a Canadian and had signed up for another who did not want to go to war. He received $300 for his substitute service. This was equivalent to about 2 years of pay for a private in Civil War days.
With the war coming to an end, Chapman would take his release in mid September 1865. But he would not be out of uniform for long. Within weeks he would sign up with the US Navy.
And it is here that the mystery mentioned in the title of this blog comes from. The reader knows of the almost 3 year service on the USS Manongahela. But the question is then raised what were the other two ships some say he served on? I've noted some web sites that refer to the USS Ohio and the USS Vermont but give no reasons for supplying these and if served on, offer no dates of such service.
Having looked at a few documents, I think I can answer this. I'll begin by going backwards! Here is the Release Certificate AFTER Chapman's 3 years of naval service.
This was most kindly sent to me recently by a reader, who has obtained some of the service documents of this soldier/sailor.
While difficult to read, it states that Chapman joined the navy on 24 October 1865 at Boston. The document is dated on 8 July 1868, the date of his honourable release.
Here is a 2nd document... a muster card for this naval service.
A very close examination of this document contains the clues we probably need.
To begin, it tells us his naval service started at Boston. The date of return, ie, the date of the document, which summarizes a week of recruiting, was on October 28th. But we know from the above discharge document that he signed up on the 24th.
At the 5th line down it shows he served from November 11th 1865 to Dec 2 1868.
But look closer, the form seems to say on November 11th he was at... RSNY. Does RS NY stand for the Rendezvous Ship? And in this case the ship USS Vermont which just happened to be there at that time in NY. And previous to this he may well have been at the Rendezvous Ship at Boston..which just happened to be the USS Ohio at that time.
And does the 12-2-65.. stand for Dec 2nd..and on the ship below..the "MONON" perhaps short form for Monongahela that we know he served on for 3 years?
This may be the answer my reader has been looking for.
And finally, before leaving you today, it was 150 years ago earlier this month that a fellow by the name of Logan decided that the members of a group he chaired owed a responsibility to all the soldiers and sailors and marines that had come before, and had since passed on.
You have read about in this space, but I'll briefly share this with you as our friends south of the border this week-end are celebrating a long weekend and hopefully giving thought on Decoration Day that had many a year ago morphed into Memorial Day on Monday. A day for reflection and not just yet another day off work to party.
Here's the General..
And here is his order to every member of the Grand Army of the Republic...
See you next week...