TWO VICTORIA CROSSES COMING TO ST. CATHARINES
St. Catharines, ONTARIO (September 27, 2006).
Niagara residents and military history buffs will have an almost unprecedented opportunity to view two original Victoria Crosses, the most famous military medal in the world, when the only two examples connected to the Niagara region go on display at the St. Catharines Museum in the week preceding Remembrance Day 2006.
Created 150 years ago, the decoration is only awarded for outstanding acts of courage or self-sacrifice in the presence of the enemy. Although both of the Niagara-area Victoria Crosses were issued to men with a St. Catharines connection, it will be the first time the two awards will ever have been together, and the first time they will be in St. Catharines.
”This is a great honour,” said Museum Curator Arden Phair. “To secure even one VC is remarkable, to get two was more than we dreamed. These medals are usually very carefully guarded and aren’t always on display at the museums that have custody of them.” In many cases, even museums only have replicas to display.
While every VC is special, the two coming to St. Catharines are unique. Lance Corporal Fred Fisher’s Victoria Cross was the first awarded to a Canadian soldier in World War I. Fisher is a St. Catharines native who joined the 13th Canadian Infantry Battalion C.E.F. (Royal Highlanders of Canada [The Black Watch]) in Montreal.
He received his award during the Second Battle of Ypres in April 1915, the first major battle for Canadian troops of that War. Fisher helped support the actions of the 10th Field Battery, a St. Catharines artillery unit. Fisher lies in an unmarked grave in Flanders. His VC is held by the Black Watch in Montreal.
The other VC is a rare example of the medal being granted to a veteran of both world wars. It was awarded near the end of the First World War to Colonel Graham Thomson Lyall who had enlisted with the 19th Lincoln Regiment, now The Lincoln & Welland Regiment of St. Catharines.
Lyall spent the early part of the War guarding the Welland Canal and Niagara power generating facilities before going overseas. He earned his VC in a series of spectacular actions over several days, in which he and his men captured more than 100 enemy prisoners.
Lyall died of natural causes while serving in North Africa in 1941, and is buried there. His VC is on long-term loan from his family to the Royal Electrical Mechanical and Engineers Museum in England.
The two medals will only be on display from November 5th to November 12th. Be a part of this once-in-a-lifetime experience, daily from 9-5. Details of other commemorative events being planned in conjunction with the decorations will be released at a future date.
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For more information contact:
Bret Evans, St. Catharines Victoria Cross Commemoration Committee, 905 646-7744, ext. 227, firstname.lastname@example.org
Arden Phair, Curator of Collections, 905 984-8880, ext. 231, email@example.com
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