Medal News

Volume 38, Number 10, November 2000

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Volume 38, Number 10, November 2000

IN our News and Views again this month we sadly report the passing of yet another of our country's great heroes. John Kenneally, VC, died in September in his 79th year bringing to just 23 the number of survivors of this unparalleled award. Also in the News we report the installation of a new headstone on the grave of another Victoria Cross winner, Private Sam Harvey late York and Lancaster Regiment who won his accolade at the Battle of Loos in 1915. Regretfully Sam died penniless in 1960 and it was not until recently that his surviving relatives, the Regiment and the Western Front Association joined together to provide a fitting memorial. Again in the News we read that the crews of two Motor Torpedo Boats lost in a tragic accident in World War II are to be commemorated with a plaque near the site of the incident and in France two British tanks have been installed near Fortesse Le Havre as a memorial to those who fell in that epic assault. All of these stories strengthen our belief that heroes should receive suitable recognition in death as well as in life. As we have pointed out in the Comment before, with the passing of time more and more people, thankfully often medal collectors, are righting the wrongs of the past and helping to provide fitting memorials for our heroes. As a direct result of our previous plea for all VC winners' graves to be suitably marked we have been in contact with a number of readers who have asked for advice and guidance on just such projects and we understand there are a number of grave sites being re-appraised at the moment. In our small way we feel that MEDAL NEWS is doing its bit. Last month we reported on a ground-breaking idea from Margaret Purves, GC, who suggested that all winners of the Victoria Cross should receive one permanent memorial. She recommends that the vacant plinth at present standing in Trafalgar Square could be used for a fitting statue or image. Field Marshall the Lord Bramall supports the idea but goes a step further in suggesting that George Cross holders too could be commemorated on the same memorial. The VC & GC Association have also endorsed the principle of one permanent site but it appears to have fallen on deaf ears in many circles. We have received a number of letters in support since broaching the subject and we will eventually make the opinions of our readers known to those who are in a position to bring the project to the authorities' attention. Meanwhile on the opposite side of the world the Australian authorities have taken their nation's heroism to heart with the issue of, not just a superb set of stamps portraying their most famous VC winners, but also two coins depicting the coveted Cross itself. Australia is in the odd position of having two official mints-The Royal Australian Mint and the Perth Mint. The first is mainly responsible for the country's circulating coinage and the other for the collectors and investment coins. The RAM has issued a $1 coin which will shortly be released into general circulation, giving Australians a tangible reminder of the bravery of their first VC winner, Captain Neville Howe, whose name and the date of his deed - July 24, 1900 - appears on the coin with a replica of the Victoria Cross. For those interested still further there will be a special collector's pack available listing all 96 Australian VC winners. Meanwhile the Perth Mint has produced a special privy-marked issue of their 2 ounce "Kookaburra" silver bullion coin showing a miniature VC in colour. This amazing technological masterpiece comes in an attractive frame with a replica of a full-size Cross and a description of the epic action in which Howe won his award. The issue is limited to just 1,000 but undoubtedly this project will go a long way to raising world awareness of the premier award for gallantry. John Mussell

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