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Coming home: museum displays Victoria Cross medals

Museum displays Victoria Cross medals

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THE three original Victoria Cross medals awarded to the "Pine Street Boys" will be on display beginning today at the Manitoba Museum.

Lt. Robert Shankland, Sgt. Maj. Frederick William Hall and Cpl. Lionel B. Clarke were boys from the same block of Pine Street, which was renamed Valour Road in 1926 by the City of Winnipeg. They all fought for Canada in the First World War.

Each was awarded the Victoria Cross, the highest military honour, for their separate valiant actions.

Their three Valour Road Victoria Cross medals will be on display in the foyer of the Manitoba Museum beginning today, 100 years to the day of the declaration of war by Canada, until the end of Veterans Week on Nov. 14.

The Victoria Crosses of Valour Road Exhibit is on loan from the Canadian War Museum in Ottawa, which acquired the three medals over a three-year period from 2009 to 2012, to safeguard the medals as artifacts of great significance to Canadian heritage.

"These medals were granted to regular guys from Winnipeg," said Maj. Paddy Douglass of Winnipeg, a member of a group that was instrumental in bringing the Great War Centenary Exhibit to Winnipeg.

"They were just regular guys who were put into extraordinary circumstances and performed extraordinarily."

The official opening ceremonies will be today at 1:30 p.m. in the Alloway Hall of the Manitoba Museum and is open to the public.

The medals, on display under strict security, will be transferred to the Manitoba Museum display during the opening ceremonies in the presence of soldiers drawn from the ranks of the successor units to the original units with which the three Valour Road Victoria Cross recipients served.

Soldiers from the Governor General's Foot Guards of Ottawa, the Royal Winnipeg Rifles, and the Queen's Own Cameron Highlanders of Canada will form up as a Quarter Guard during the transfer ceremony.

Douglass said Manitobans should take the rare opportunity to see the medals back in Winnipeg.

"This is their (Manitobans') history. It's the history of this city. This city was a thriving city in the early part of the last century. This is just a testament to how many people felt that patriotic fervour when the war came about," Douglass said.

"It's not about them wanting to go to war. It's about them wanting to serve their country."

Shankland was the only one of the three Valour Road Victoria Cross recipients to survive the war. Both Clarke and Hall died in battle.

The Victoria Crosses of Valour Road project is a collaborative effort of the Royal Military Institute of Manitoba (RMIM), the Manitoba Museum and the Canadian War Museum. The exhibit is co-chaired by Hanna Peters, the exhibits manager of the Manitoba Museum, and retired Maj. Gen. Dennis Tabbernor of the RMIM.

The Victoria Cross is the highest military decoration awarded for "valour in the face of the enemy" to members of the armed forces of various Commonwealth countries and previous British Empire territories.

It takes precedence over all other orders, decorations and medals. It may be awarded to a person of any rank, in any service and to civilians under military command.

The VC was introduced on Jan. 29, 1856, by Queen Victoria. Since then, the medal has been awarded 1,356 times to 1,353 individual recipients.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition August 6, 2014 B1


Updated on Wednesday, August 6, 2014 at 8:24 AM CDT: corrects sentence

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