Friday, November 8, 2013
WHY I REMEMBER - THE SILVER CROSS
Approximately ten years ago I inherited a small leather covered box that contained a beautiful silver cross. The old lady that had passed was related by marriage to a distant cousin of my mother. We were in British Columbia at the time clearing up the estate. This beautiful box and its contents intrigued me persuading me to discover its origin.
I knew it had a military connection. I learned it is not the sort of item a family wants to receive. With this medal comes the reality that a loved one has made the ultimate sacrifice and will never come home. So now I had something sacred lying in my hands. "Oh" I thought to myself. "I must pay homage to this soldier who gave his life for us." My journey to uncover the mystery began.
I turned the medal over which was engraved with a service number and a name. It was a Canadian issued cross so at least I had a starting point.I went online and searched the military archives on the Canadian Government website. I was ecstatic when information I requested started to pop up on the screen. From these old microfiche files available I could now uncover the identity of this lost soul.
I learned his name, rank and other personal information. He was a soldier from World War I. His name was Sergeant Percy Hall. He volunteered to serve for his country - Canada. He was just 28 years old at the time of his death on Sunday, August 12, 1918. I have since learned that he was mortally wounded during a 10 hour hand-to-hand combat in the trenches near Parvillers, France. From his regiment, Private Thomas Dinesen was honoured with the Victoria Cross for his bravery.
He was a widower with one daughter, Marjorie Hall who resided in England. He was a clothing salesman by trade and lived in Montreal. He was the only son of William and Alice Hall who lived in Leeds, England. His remains lay at the Vimy Memorial in Pas de Calais, France. He was with the 42nd Battalion (Quebec Regiment) Canadian Army. He was born on October 14, 1889 and swore allegiance to King George the Fifth on his Attestation Paper for military service. His physical description was average for the day I presume. He joined the army at age 26. He had brown hair, brown eyes and a dark complexion. He was 5', 8.5" tall and a average chest size of 36.6". He had a birthmark over his heart.
As I stare at his signature some 95 years later, I feel sad and proud to have educated myself about this lost soldier. I feel I know him. The elderly lady who kept his cross safe, lived in Leeds, England as a child. She too had served in World War II. So there was some connection there which I may never know. She had no family at the time of her passing and had left her worldly possessions to my mother who had been her friend and confidant over the years. My mother never knew of Sargeant Hall so the mystery of this silver cross lived in a shadow of a drawer for decades.
I think it was God's work that the silver cross came into my possession. Every Remembrance Day I wear Sergeant Percy Hall's silver cross around my neck and proudly show it to my young riding students. I tell his story and ask them to say a prayer of thanks to Sergeant Percy for giving his life for us. It is not only wearing the poppy that reminds me of my freedom, it is the silver cross and the man behind it that makes Remembrance Day a more special place in my heart. God bless you Percy Hall. I remember you.
POSTSCRIPT.....On May 20, 2016 I had a break-in at my residence and the silver cross and its case was stolen along with other heirlooms and jewelry. I was devastated to have lost this precious cross. It has not been recovered.