Like so many early boys and men in Nova Scotia in the early days, William made his living on the waters. First locally, then with the US as a merchant mariner, and finally with the British Navy.
Back in the Fall of 1857 William was sent off with the Brits to rescue some 3,000 British men, women and children who had been held captive by Sepoys in the city of Lucknow India. In what became known as the Relief of Lucknow, the captured were held hostage for over 140 days in the residence area of Shaw Najaf. The enemy, some 30,000 strong, were secured in many structures including a mosque that had 2 very thick and high walls, that had to be overcome before the Brits could rescue their fellow countrymen and families.
Very large 24 pounder cannons were hauled some 70 Kms. to Lucknow from Kanpur before they could even approach Lucknow. But upon arrival the enemy took a heavy toll and easily mowed most down from their very secure positions behind the mosque walls. Those handling the British cannons had to try and try and try to breach the walls and finally made a small hole in the outer wall.
But in the firing of the gun each shot came with an incredible blow back of the cannon. After each shell, the gun had to be hauled back into place, and thus the Brits traveling across open ground and yet again becoming targets for the enemy. Most gunners were killed off... but finally only 2 were left standing. They managed to make the whole big enough to allow the infantry to charge in and save the hostages.
One of those two men was William Hall, who would later be awarded the Victoria Cross. He would become the first Black man, the first sailor, and the third from Canada to be awarded the empire's highest medal for bravery...the Victoria Cross.
Regular readers of this space also have seen quite often stories about Joseph Noil, who in my mind was every bit as brave and justly deserving of a VC or another medal of equal status... The Medal Honor. Canadian blood in both heroes veins, but one fought for the British and the other for the Americans.
And both men were born in Nova Scotia... Noil's birth being about 160 kms to the South East of Hall's hometown.
William Hall has received an incredible amount of accolades in the form of statues and monuments and street and building and a ship of war currently under construction, a stamp, and so much more.
Noil, a fellow sailor as equally heroic, has received next to NOTHING and is certainly not well known in his home province or the rest of Canada.
A crime if ever there was such a thing!
As appeared in the past in this space, here is a recruitment poster that the US Government used years ago. There were only less than a dozen different ones made I believe. And it was for Noil.
But here at home I doubt if three or more in a MILLION even know the name of NOIL.
Here, yet again at this site, is that poster...
And here is your opener...
It is the same fellow!
Last week the family who had lost their hero for well over 130 years, identified the photo as being none other that Benjamin Noil. He was buried under the wrong name for over 130 years, till I and several others resolved the mystery. It even lacked any notification that he was a MOH recipient.
I note here probably for the first time in print anywhere in Canada, and possibly even the US, that this man has been identified as Benjamin Noil, our Canadian forgotten HERO.
More to come on Sunday!