I only have one known ancestor who died serving his country in war, my Grand Uncle, L/Cpl. Lawrence Nimmo Dean, youngest brother of my maternal grandmother, Marjorie Elizabeth Dean. In each post about him, I try to introduce new material and thanks to my mother I do have something new to share again this year, his service medals.
Uncle Lawrence served in WWII, enlisting in Stratford, Ontario on September 28, 1939. His service record told me that he earned six campaign medals: the 1939-45 Star, Italy Star, France and Germany Star, War Medal, C.V.S.M. & Clasp, and the Defence Medal. Earlier this year I learned that my mother's cousin had entrusted these medals to my mother, and now she has entrusted them to me.
According to Wikipedia, these were campaign medals "instituted by the United Kingdom...to subjects of the British Commonwealth for service in the Second World War."
The 1939-45 Star was issued to those who served at least one day between September 2, 1939, and May 8, 1945, the duration of the war in Europe.
The Italy Star was issued to those who served at least one day in Sicily or Italy between June 11, 1943, and May 8, 1945.
The France and Germany Star was issued to those who served at least one day in France, Belgium, Holland or Germany between June 6, 1944 - D-Day - and May 8, 1945.
The War Medal was awarded to full-time personnel of the Armed forces or Merchant Marines who served at least twenty-eight days between September 3, 1939, and May 8, 1945.
The C.V.S.M. (Canadian Volunteer Service Medal) was awarded to members of the Naval, Air and Military Forces of Canada who served honorably for at least 18 months or 540 days from September 3, 1939, to March 1, 1947. Those who served at least 60 days outside of Canada were also awarded a clasp, a silver bar with a maple leaf at the center.
The Defense Medal was awarded for non-operational service, but I'll refer you to the Libary and Archives Canada site for a detailed description here.
Two years ago, I wrote about a letter that my grandfather's brother wrote to my grandmother after hearing the news of Uncle Lawrence's death. In it, he wrote, "I trust you will have some consolation in the knowledge that his death like that of so many others, is for the salvation of millions."
That thought is comforting, but I am still sad today looking these medals. How many other families have similar artifacts; service medals still in their original boxes because their recipients would never wear them, symbols of unfinished lives, some barely begun.
The medals honor Uncle Lawrence's service, but the boxes illustrate his sacrifice and that of the loved ones that he left behind.