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Medals of Pvt. John Henry Perry

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BerichtGeplaatst: 18 Sep 2010 11:56    Onderwerp: Medals of Pvt. John Henry Perry Reageer met quote

Lynn WWI soldier focus of Canadian researcher
By David Liscio, The Daily Item, September 18, 2010

LYNN - A military researcher wants to return a World War I Canadian bravery medal to the family of the Lynn man who earned it.

David Thomson of St. George, Ontario was scouring the postings on eBay recently when he came across a site offering the war medals of Canadian veterans.

Two WWI Canadian Silver Service Medals from 1914-18 were listed, including one awarded to Pvt. John Henry Perry, then living at 52 Carnes St. in Lynn. The medal, paired with another given to a different Canadian soldier, had received nine bids for up to $530 as of last night. Bids end at midnight Sunday.

Military records indicate Perry was born in Egmont Bay, New Brunswick, Canada, on May 30, 1896 and enlisted in the Canadian Overseas Expeditionary Force (CEF) on April 12, 1918. At the time Perry joined Canada's armed forces at a recruit depot in Montreal, he was 21, single and working as a chauffeur.

"It was probably where the train stopped. There's a good chance he got off in Montreal and went straight to the recruiting station," Thomson said.

Enlistment documents show Perry was willing to be vaccinated against the influenza plaguing much of Europe. His next-of-kin was listed as his father, Moses Charles Perry. He served with the 14th Canadian Infantry. "When I find medals, I then try to repatriate them back to the family and/or hometown of the veteran," said Thomson, who has purchased dozens of war medals on eBay and returned them to the soldiers' families or community museums. He became interested in the undertaking quite by accident. As he explained to Canadian television, he was browsing the military artifacts section of eBay when he found a war medal awarded to a soldier named Huff from nearby Princeton, Ontario. "I bought it and donated it to the museum and it sort of spiraled from there," he said.

Some of the purchases were made with donations.

In 2007, Thomson was nominated for a Governor General's Caring Canadian Award for trying to repatriate the medals. His efforts have earned him the nickname "The Medal Detector."

Thomson in 2007 also made possible the return of a Victory Medal awarded to a Nova Scotia soldier from Canada's only black battalion in WWI. The medal was given to Percy Fenton of Arcadia, Nova Scotia about 90 years ago. It was purchased on eBay for $7,435.40 (Canadian dollars) by a Canadian citizen bidding on behalf of the Black Cultural Centre in Dartmouth, N.S.
"The price was absolutely ridiculous," he said. "But that's what happens when you get people into a bidding war."

Thomson placed the winning bid with nine seconds to spare. He told the press the seller agreed to give the cultural center time to gather adequate donations.

As evidence of how lucrative dealing in military memorabilia can be, Victory Medals were given to every Allied soldier who served in the war.

"The Canadian force only had about 600 black fellas and in WWI black battalions were not even allowed to carry guns. So they put them into a construction battalion," Thomson said. "There were a lot less medals given to the black soldiers, so this particular medal was worth more than $500 or $600."

Thomson, a muscle car parts dealer, spends about 20 hours a week tracking down medals.

In 2009, he received a national honor from Canada's Minister of Veterans Affairs and in 2010 eBay named him to its Hall of Fame for his medal detection work.

Over 600,000 men and women, including many Americans, enlisted in the CEF during the First World War as soldiers, nurses and chaplains. The CEF was created in 1914 in response to Britain's call for additional fighting forces, primarily against the German enemy in France.

Thomson described Perry as an anomaly because he enlisted so late into WWI. "By 1918, the U.S. was well into the war, so there was really no reason for him to go to Canada to enlist, as many Americans did early on," he said. "It's unusual in that regard but we may never know why he just didn't join the U.S. Army at the nearest recruiting station."

Thomson urged buyers and sellers not to put a price on valor. "Don't bid against each other for these medals," he said. "Rally together. Don't drive the price up."

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