His actions were taken under very heavy fire repeatedly to provide medical aid to the wounded. This including 100 seriously wounded enemy soldiers, whom had been abandoned by their own comrades. This heroism resulted in his being awarded both the Victoria Cross and the Military Cross, each then being pinned on his chest by HRH King George V at Buckingham Palace.
Today I will pick up with his being demobilized after the war and having returned to Toronto.
Before heading off to war Bellenden had met a nurse practicing in Nova Scotia. The relationship became serious but "not wanting to leave a widow behind," he saved marriage till return from military service. He and Francis Adelia Young, possibly from the Digby area of the province, soon would be married and back in the United States, at Mount Carmel Illinois, his place of birth.
Returning back to health care, the doctor and surgeon would find work at St Mary's hospital. He would also be the Health Officer for Mound City, and for two different railroads to boot.
In June of 1939 he traveled to Washington in order to be presented to HRH King George Vl and Queen Elizabeth at the British Embassy. He would then be requested to join the royal couple on a visit to the Tomb of the US Unknown Soldier, and presentation of wreaths.
The Unknown Soldier had been presented posthumously with a Victoria Cross back on its unveiling in 1921. He also received many other top bravery medals from nations around the world.
Past blogs have told about Canadian involvement in that ceremony and of attendance of 2 VC recipients and our Prime Minisyter of the day as well. The Unknown Soldier's VC presented in 1921 was on behalf of George Vl's father, the very head of Monarch that presented Hutcheson with his VC and MC at Buckingham Palace.
Doctor Hutcheson passed away after a lengthy illness at Cairo Illinois in 1954 and lay at rest today beside his wife at the Rose Hill Cemetery back in Mount Carmel. (In the same cemetery also at rest, I presume, is Al Capone and a few gang members.)
As recently noted, my research has now identified 10 VC connections to the US. Eight of these would be for actions in WWl. And it might be interesting to note that of the approximate 600 VC's awarded for WWl actions, about 40% of those went to non English, or Irish born.
Mount Carmel Chamber of Commerce has also taken steps to keep the story of Doctor Hutcheson alive. They have displayed this memorial outside the entrance to the chamber.
In 2009 Hutcheson's old unit, the 75th, now the well respected and storied Toronto Scottish, moved from the Fort York Armouries to the west end of the city in an area known as Etobicoke and a brand new facility shared by the Metropolitan Toronto Police Force. It is named the Captain B.S.Hutcheson VC Armoury.
Therein today and well protected I suspect, are the hero's medals. I expect that his portrait still hangs most prominently in their officers' mess. And I hope on entry, members are still required to give it the salute is so preciously deserves.
Five years later, on 6 November 2014, during the Royal tour of North America, Princess Anne and husband, a Vice Admiral, visited the famous Arlington cemetery in DC. While there they presented the plaque shown below in honor of SOME of the US WWl Victoria Cross recipients. That story has been told in past blogs.
Here's the Ottawa plaque. mounted at the British High Commission building.
Returning now to Mount Carmel Illinois, it would be a former employee at city hall that would move on another front to keep the Hutcheson story alive. Many years ago Don was on the receiving end of a call from England. Someone wanted information of the Hutcheson grave. He visited the site and gathered details for the caller. Since then several similar calls had been fielded and Don got to thinking more ought to be done to bring recognition to the story.
He decided there should be a day proclaimed by council in honor of the doctor and his deed. He approached council and soon favour was gathered. He'd write up the very proclamation he wanted, presented it and was thrilled to later learn that it had been accepted.
Here is that proclamation... word for word...
A local newspaper of the day gave wonderful coverage of both the Hutcheson war story and the proclamation. Here 's an image of the day's paper...
One ought to give thought to the fact that at Passcheandaele his helmet was blown off his head while caring for the wounded. Rifle, machine gun or artillery explosions and back blast knocked him off his feet at one point. At another, possibly Ypres, bullets or schrapnell would pierce his clothing. But regardless of personal safety, he'd be still in the thick of battle caring for those desperately in need of compassion, and medical aid.
Lets keep his service and so many others' bravery in mind as we visit VC graves, and Medal of Honor graves across North America.
Most impressive memorials to the long list of Canada's VC men can be found, as noted in past blogs, at Barrie and Toronto and also at Edmonton.
If you know of others, please let me know.
And in the mean time this blog, like almost 450 others have been produced at my own expense and massive time investment. You can help pay for this by taking some steps to let others known about these blogs so that these stories can be even more widely circulated. You can also let your local press known about this work.
Thanks, and before signing off, I want to thank the two Bills, Ron, other officials at Mount Carmel and so many others behind the scenes that play such an important role in bringing me these pieces for the forever non ending puzzle of these heroes on both sides of the US/Canada border.
See you next weekend.