——The first World War—– Recently on Face Book there has been quite a lot of postings remembering the First World War. The Great War (war to end all wars) ended at the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month in 1918. However, very few people know much about the history of those times, much has been lost. In no small measure this is due the Royal Canadian Legion. They remain adamant that the law preventing blood relatives from wearing loved ones medals on their right breast should stand. By doing so they have deprived many younger generations of a very important part of our visual history.
How many citizens know about “Pip, Squeak and Wilfred”? I would guess not too many. Pip Squeak and Wilfred were a Daily Mirror newspaper cartoon trio from that era. It was a standing joke among the veterans of the Great War referring to the three war medals.
A citizen wishing to see these medals today would perhaps have two options, War museums or in some legion branch’s. Its sad to think that more than six million where awarded and yet today are so difficult to find.
Here is a very good reason why blood relatives should be encouraged to wear late loved ones medals 0n Remembrance Day
Look at the three WW1 medals the young girl is wearing belonging to her great grandfather while standing beside her grandfather a veteran of the Second World War.
Pip, Squeak and Wilfred nicknames given to three WWI campaign medals: the 1914-15 Star; the British War Medal and the Victory Medal. This set of 3 medals or a pair (BWM and Victory) are the most likely medals to be found among family heirlooms. The medals were automatically sent out; soldiers did not need to apply. When the recipient had been killed the medals were sent to the next-of-kin.
It should be noted the tradition of wearing late loved ones medals began just after the end of First World War. Across the Empire in cities towns and villages cenotaphs were being erected to the memory of the fallen. At the unveiling ceremonies mothers, wives and other family members attended wearing on their right breasts these medals. It was done as a sign of their great loss and to honour the memory of those men and women who paid the ultimate sacrifice. The tradition continues to this day in most Commonwealth nations around the world. But here in Canada it is against the law, should an elderly person wear his/her late loved ones medals he/she is subject to arrest, fine and or jail. One has to wonder why we need such a law, asking, most people they will probably say ” I doubt anyone would actually be arrested”. Which brings us back to the question of why the Royal Canadian Legion continues to support this archaic and unnecessary law? It is even more puzzling while the legion defends this law but supports and authorizes their members to wear an array of legion issued medals. Note legion medals worn on right breast are not official medals sanctioned by the Monarch)
Now as our Second World War and Korean Veterans are aging we are seeing less and less of the medals from these wars. Will they soon become as rare a sight as Pip Squeak and Wilfred???
I believe it is time the Royal Canadian Legion moved to have section 419 of the criminal code amended to allow blood relatives to wear late loved ones medals on occasions as deemed suitable .
When asked, the legion response is to say this,” to allow a medal to be worn by anyone other than winner of said medal, dilutes the value of the medal???” However, to wear many legion issued medals, (some may actually be purchased) apparently doesn’t dilute the value and meaning of an actual medal? Hmm, I must be missing something here! This doesn’t make a lot of sense!
God Bless and keep reading