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Canadian Soldiers war medal goes home


A Canadian museum has won its fight for a Hawick soldier's war medal which appeared for auction on the internet.

Curator John Robertson said it had been a "bumpy ride" but confirmed it had added Sgt Frederick Shipley's Memorial Cross to the collection in Welland.

The medal appeared on eBay in August prompting the museum to bid for it.

Sgt Shipley was born in the Borders in 1889 but moved to Canada and died as part of their forces on the first day of the Battle of Vimy Ridge in 1917.

The Memorial Cross appeared for auction earlier this year.

The Welland Museum - in Sgt Shipley's former hometown in Ontario, Canada - immediately teamed up with medal enthusiast Dave Thomson.

They attempted to convince the seller to take the cross off the website and sell it to them directly.

It took lengthy negotiations which only concluded successfully last week.

"It has been a bumpy ride, but Sgt Shipley's medal has come 'home'," confirmed Mr Robertson.

The deal was complicated when the man selling the medal had second thoughts about releasing it from his collection.

"After a good deal of persuasion from Mr Thomson and the president of the local branch of the Royal Canadian Legion, the vendor reconsidered and let us bring Sgt Shipley's medal back to Welland," said Mr Robertson.

He said that the Battle of Vimy Ridge was particularly important to Canadians as it was seen as "a watershed event in the country's development as a nation".

More than 3,500 of their soldiers were killed in the conflict, the Hawick man being one of them.

Wider audience

Frederick Shipley was born in the Borders but moved to Canada in 1906, with his mother following a year later.

Records show that he got married in Welland in 1912 but his wife died two years later due to pregnancy complications after delivering a stillborn child.

The young Borderer enlisted in 1915 and was killed on 9 April, 1917 - the first day of the Battle of Vimy Ridge.

The Memorial Cross would have originally been given to his family as it was awarded to mothers and widows of Canadians who died in the service of their country during the war.

It is now hoped Sgt Shipley's medal can go on display at the Royal Canadian Legion before moving to the museum "in order to reach as broad an audience as possible".

Pity they had to go through the Ebay auction process but got there in the end.

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