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Canadian Memorial Cross manufacturer and history


Guest Pete Wood
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Guest Pete Wood

Most people on this forum are familiar with the bronze Memorial Plaque issued to the next of kin of those commemorated by the CWGC.

However I am not so familiar with the story of the Canadian Memorial Cross which was issued, in addition to the bronze memorial plaque (made in England), to the next of kin of Canadian soldiers who died during (and after??!!) the war(s).

I have just noticed that Dick Flory has mentioned a manufacturer called Breadner. This is all new to me, and I can't find a mention of this company on the forum before (I love learning new facts).

So can anyone tell me more about the production of the Canadian Memorial Cross, please. Who made them and how many were made etc etc etc.

Pete

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The Memorial Cross (more often referred to as the Silver Cross) was first instituted by Order-in-Council 2374, dated December 1, 1919. It was awarded to mothers and widows (next of kin) of Canadian soldiers who died on active duty or whose death was consequently attributed to such duty. The crosses were sent automatically to mothers and wives who qualified, and can be worn by the recipients anytime, even though they were not themselves veterans. The cross is engraved with the name and service number of the son or husband.

The sterling silver Memorial Cross, measures 1-¼ by 1-¼ inches with a double ring on the upper arm through which a purple silken ribbon is passed to hang the cross around the neck of the family member. The cross patonce, surmounted on a wreath of laurel has on the upper arm, beneath the mounting ring, a crown and at the extremity of each of the other arms a maple leaf all in high relief. A smaller St. George's cross is superimposed, in the centre of which is the cypher of the reigning sovereign in high relief. The reverse of the cross is plain, save for the sterling and makers marks on the lower arm, and on this tablet is engraved the details of the fallen. In the case of enlisted personnel in two lines in the centre of the cross, the service number, rank and name; and in the case of officers just the rank and name, usually in just one line.

GRV (George V) - 58,500 awarded

GVIR (George VI) - 32,500 awarded

ERII (Elizabeth II) - 500 awarded

The National Silver Cross Mother is chosen annually by The Royal Canadian Legion to represent the mothers of Canada at the National Remembrance Day Ceremony in Ottawa on 11 November. As the Silver Cross Mother, she will lay a wreath at the base of the National War Memorial on behalf of all mothers who lost children in the military service of their nation.

Garth

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I had a Canadian Memorial Cross a while ago, and the recipient was the soldiers father, his mother being dead. May be it was sent to the mother/wife in the first instance then the next of kin if the mother dead and no wife.

Were two crosses issued if mother still alive and wife also?

Duncan.

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I believe New Zealand also issued Crosses I will no doubt hear if I am mistaken.

I have only One WW1 cross that is linked to a jeweler it is on the box of issue instead of the cross most WW1 crosses are just marked Sterling. The Jeweler on the box for those interested is A McMillan Jeweler and Optician 82 Sparks St. Ottawa.just to add two crosses were issued tone to the mother and one to the spouse if that was the case and if they were still living.

Best Regards

N.S.Regt.

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Were two crosses issued if mother still alive and wife also?

Yes the issue slip documentation states this.

A Cross could be granted to the Wife & Mother of a Canadian Casualty,Only 1 Bronze Commemorative Plaque was granted though

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Racing Teapots wrote:

So can anyone tell me more about the production of the Canadian Memorial Cross, please. Who made them and how many were made etc etc etc.

There is a good article on the Canadian Memorial Cross in The Journal of the Orders and Medals Research Society, Volume 12, Number 2 (Summer 1973), pages 63-67.

This article indicates that there were 8 varieties of Memorial Crosses:

Cypher

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Racing Teapots wrote:

So can anyone tell me more about the production of the Canadian Memorial Cross, please. Who made them and how many were made etc etc etc.

There is a good article on the Canadian Memorial Cross in The Journal of the Orders and Medals Research Society, Volume 12, Number 2 (Summer 1973), pages 63-67.

This article indicates that there were 8 varieties of Memorial Crosses:

Cypher Silver Mark Manufacturer Number struck Weight

GRI STERLING (3) Caron Bros., Montreal 20,526

GRI STERLING ® Roden Bros., Toronto 35,098

GRI STERLING/ B.M. Co. Breadner, Ltd, Ottawa 4,700 196g

G VI R STERLING/ B.M. Co. Breadner, Ltd, Ottawa 3,300 196g

G VI R BIRKS/STERLING Henry Birks & Sons, Montreal 10,000 234g

G VI R LACKIE/STERLING Lackie Mfg. Co., Toronto 5,000 201g

G VI R [R]/STERLING Roden Bros., Toronto 25,000 234g

E II R STERLING IE M. C. Lamond et Fils, Montreal 500

Crosses of the first two GRI varieties were awarded during and after WWI. The Breadner GRI and G VI R crosses were awarded in the early part of WW2. The G VI R crosses manufactured by Birks, Lackie and Roden were issued in WW2 and following.

For those who missed the photo of the GRI cypher Breadner Cross in another thread on this forum, I have attached it below. It was awarded to Major Arthur Boynton Slee, MC, RFA who served with the Royal Field Artillery in WW1 where he received the MC. He immigrated to Canada after the war and died on active service with the Royal Canadian Artillery on 31 October 1940.

Regards. Dick Flory

post-23-1091207492.jpg

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here is a few things that may be of intrest.

First a letter mentioning the issue of a cross Pte. MacAulay died a few years after the war ended they still issued Crosses to WW1 vets into the reign of E II.

Second is a card that was issued with the cross and third Cross named to Pte. MacAulay.

post-23-1091224592.jpg

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Lastly are a couple of examples of the issue box the one on the right is the one that was sent Pte. MacAulay's mother and had the Jewelers address.

Best regards

N.S.Regt.

post-23-1091224797.jpg

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Double Mothers Cross example...

Here are two Memorial Crosses to the same man. This is obviously rare, as one would have been posted to his wife and the other his mother.

post-23-1091225517.jpg

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I believe New Zealand also issued Crosses I will no doubt hear if I am mistaken.

New Zealand did (and still does, when necessary) issue these crosses (pretty similar to the Canadian one, but replace the maple leaf with a fern, etc.), but not for WW1 casualties. The NZ version began in 1939.

Dave.

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One thing to mention about these crosses that sometimes seems to be misunderstood, is that the person named on it didn't actually have to die on active service. He could die years later, long after leaving the forces, but if his death could be attributed to war service, then he was entitled to a cross named in his honour. This is why many crosses can be encountered where there is no trace on CWGC of the soldier named.

A mate of mine used to have a (GV) cross to a guy who died as a result of injuries recieved during during 1918. His year of death? - 1952!

Dave.

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