It was on 1 December back in 1956 that Quebec born Henry Peter Russell passed away. On the 11th of December, 120 years ago Peter was having a much better day as he enlisted in the United States Navy. He moved to the US with family when only about 2 yrs of age, took little schooling and then decided to sign up for a military life at sea. Soon he would find himself embroiled in the Spanish American War, and as a Landsman (recruit) on board the massive USS Marblehead'
In May 1889 the Marblehead and a twin vessel... the USS Nashville dispatched 4 work-boats on a mission to dredge up and cut heavy underwater cables that provided communication links between Cuba and Spain. 110 Medals of Honor would be awarded for the 110 day war, almost half coming from the cable cutting actions, noted often in this space. Henry Russell and several other Canadians earned their medals in this action.
In September 1898 the massive memorial to Champlain was unveiled at Quebec. The USS Marblehead was invited to attend on a tour and complied, complete with a march through the streets and front row seating for the unveiling. It's crew of MOH men would have been no doubt featured in the event. And this may well have been the only time in the entire history of the MOH that so many recipients, set foot on Canadian soil at the same time.
One of Russel's shipmates was Leonard Chadwick from Delaware, and also a recipient often mentioned in this space in the past.
Meanwhile, Chadwick decided to don a uniform again and while serving with the Roberts Horse would do battle in so many actions that his campaign medals had more clasps than most in the entire war. His bravery throughout saw several recommendations for the Victoria Cross, the awarding of the Distinguished Conduct Medal, several Mentions in Dispatches... and the Queen's Scarf, one of only 8 in the world knitted by the very hand of Queen Victoria. (Much also on this site about the scarf.)
The fellow on the right (above) is Private Richard Rowland Thompson, 2nd Battalion of the Royal Canadian Regiment. He too would be awarded the scarf.
The four privates were to come from Canada, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa. Shown about is Sergeant William ColClough who served with the 2nd Devonshire Regiment. His 60" long, 9" wide scarf is shown above.
While many in the military world knew of the 2 scarves coming home to North America, many possibly did not know that a third also came to Canada. The very one shown above. History detectives have yet to locate the Chadwick scarf, but all others are accounted for.
The latest chapter on this front is possibly being written this very day.
In Dallas Texas the above scarf is being auctioned off with a starting bid of $100,000 US... about 8 zillion today in Canadian dollars.
Sgt ColClough moved to Canada after the war and joined up with the 106th Winnipeg Light Infantry. He so served in WWl with the unit and returned home to later command it.
After his death the scarf passed through the family, and later was on display in a museum. Still later it found its way to being offered for sale today in Texas. I just learned minutes ago that it did not sell and will come up again on the 26th. And they have put the bid up to $125,000.
Tomorrow is this blog's birthday. Four years old, and almost 400 stories strong.
Here's a hint.. I would love a scarf!