In 1936, Mrs. Charlotte Susan Wood from Winnipeg, Manitoba, became known as the first National Memorial (Silver) Cross Mother when she placed a wreath on the tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Westminster Abbey in London, England, on behalf of all Canadian mothers who have lost a child in military service to their country.
Charlotte Susan Fullman was born in 1861 in Chatham, England. In 1887, she met Frederick Louis Wood, a neighbour whose wife had recently died. Charlotte and Frederick became friends and married a year later. The new Mrs. Wood instantly became a mother to a family of six boys, to which the Wood’s added five more sons and a daughter.
In 1905, the Woods applied for a Dominion Land Grant and were assigned land near Gunn, Alberta. Since the oldest Wood children were established in England, only Mr. & Mrs. Wood, along with four of their younger sons, emigrated to Canada.
When war broke out in 1914, Mrs. Wood’s sons were immediately affected and by 1916, all eleven had enlisted.
During the First World War, five of Mrs. Wood’s sons were killed – Louis, lost at sea board the HMS Hogue; Fred, killed on the Somme; Harry, killed on the Helles Front at Gallipoll; Joseph, killed at Passchendaele, and Percy, killed at Vimy. Also, sons Alf and John were seriously wounded.
Because of her great loss, Mrs. Wood took a deep interest in war causes and in the welfare of Veterans. She was active in the Canadian Legion, the Imperial Veterans of Canada, the Comrades of the World, the Association of War Widows, and the old Contemptible Club in Winnipeg, Manitoba (her postwar home).
Mrs. Wood returned to Europe on a memorial visit 1928 and again in 1936. She was awarded the George V Jubilee Medal in 1935. And, not only was Mrs. Wood the first recipient of the Silver Memorial Cross, an honour still awarded today to mothers and widows of those killed while serving Canada, but she received five Silver Crosses.
However there is great irony in this amazing story, the Royal Canadian Legion who are great supporters of the Silver Cross, also have another issue they fervently support. Section 419 of the Criminal Code. It states only the owner of a medal may wear it. Its a good job Mrs Charlotte Wood did not receive her Silver Cross in Canada. Look at her coat, Egads!! she is wearing her late sons medals on her right breast. “Arrest that woman” is shouted from the ranks of the Legion, she is a criminal and a law breaker.
So folks, do you think the Legion have their priorities a little confused, some might say, speaking out of both sides of their mouths!!!! Its okay for a Silver Cross mother to wear her sons medals, but not a widow or relative.
The Legion is either for this law or against it, you cannot be both!
God Bless and keep reading