Maybe it was the loss of a medal commemorating his own great-uncle’s Second World War death that made him do it.
Something compelled Allan Cameron to return another Silver Cross that he had paid $500 only a few years ago to the family it belongs with on Saturday.
“I’m a collector and I’ve had it for three years and I decided it was time to get it back to the family . . . I would hope that somebody would do the same for me,” said the Sylvan Lake resident.
Cameron is founder of the non-profit Veterans Voices of Canada, which records the war experiences of former soldiers in their own words.
Since Cameron’s uncle and great-uncle served with the North Nova Scotia Highlanders, he has been collecting artifacts from their unit for years.
In 2011, another militaria collector called to see if he wanted to purchase a Silver Cross medal connected to Authur Bedwin, a North Nova Scotia Highlander, who was killed in action in Holland in 1945.
The memorial medals were presented to the mothers or widows of Canadian soldiers who died while in active service.
Cameron bought the Silver Cross, thinking it should belong to someone who appreciates its meaning.
But the Central Albertan occasionally thought about Bedwin’s family and whether he should try to track his relatives down and return the medal.
“I thought about it a couple of times and then put it away.”
But a story he heard recently made him reconsider his ownership of the artifact.
It concerns a New Brunswick man who purchased a Second World War helmet with a soldier’s name printed in it for $30 from an army surplus store.
“The fact that (the soldier) cared enough about it to write his stuff inside — his name and the ID number — it wasn’t mine to keep,” Jordan Chiasson told a local newspaper.
The young collector discovered the helmet’s original owner was still alive and opted to return it to him in February.
George Johnston, 93, who had been a private with the North Shore Regiment, was emotional to receive the head covering that protected him through six years of fighting across Europe. Upon seeing his helmet after 70 years, Johnston said, “I could kiss it!”
“He was quite excited to get it, and it reinterated to me that these things should go back” whenever possible to the soldiers or their families, said Cameron.
After doing his own research, Cameron discovered that Bedwin’s daughter resides in Grimshaw, only a few hours drive from his Sylvan Lake home.
He drove to the community on Saturday to present the Silver Cross to the woman at a ceremony at the Grimshaw Royal Canadian Legion. It was also attended by other Bedwin relatives, veterans and community members. Cameron’s only condition was that the medal stay in the family and not be resold.
He discovered the late soldier’s daughter, who’s now in her 70s, had no idea that a Silver Cross memorializing her father’s sacrifice ever existed. She told him she had no knowledge of how the medal would have left the family, but was very grateful to get it back.
Cameron hopes that someday, someone will come across the Silver Cross medal that memorializes his great-uncle and D-Day veteran, Ernest Glenmore Hill, who was killed on July 25, 1944, and will also return it to relatives.
It would mean a great deal, he said. “Our family doesn’t know where the medal is. I would like to think that someone would do that for us.”