Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Last Living Canadian VC Veteran dies

"Smokey" Smith, the last living Canadian WWII veteran to earn the Victoria Cross died last week. He was 91 years old and was one of only ten Victoria Cross recipients still alive in the British Commonwealth.

Before I go into how he won his medal I wanted to find out exactly what the Victoria Cross is and where it comes from. It turns out that it's a bronze medallion on a dark red ribbon. They're created from the bronze of Russian cannons captured at a place called Sabastopol during the last battle of the Crimean War in 1854-55.

The whole idea of cannons made me wonder how many they took at Sabastopol as spoils of war. What happens when they use up all the bronze? But why am I worrying about there being enough bronze to make medals? I'd rather not have any wars and not have to give out medals for putting yourself in the direct line of fire.

Now that I've thoroughtly disgusted myself and you dear reader, I thought I'd share this little tidbit. I've had members on both sides of my family fight in WWI and WWII. I'm proud of the service they did for their country but at the same time, I absolutely hate the idea of humans beings killing each other. It seems like such a waste. But does this take away from what my relatives did for Canada? I really don't have an answer.

According to a website I looked at, the VC is the most prestigious award in the British Commonwealth and is given for "gallantry in the face of the enemy." "Smokey" Smith received his in Italy by single-handedly fighting off German tanks and troops during a battle 1944.

Ernest Alvia "Smokey" Smith was born in New Westminster, BC. He was part of the Seaforth Highlanders and this same regiment brought his coffin to Parliament Hill where he lay in state on Tuesday. On Saturday he'll be returned to BC and will be given a full military funeral.

No comments: