A Lost ‘Star’ Fi­nally Re­turns Home

Found in 1949, this WWI medal is now in the right hands

More of Our Canada - - Cause For Applause - by Mar­jorie Fuhrer, Dray­ton Val­ley, Alta.

The Star was a cam­paign medal awarded to all sol­diers who served with or along­side Bri­tish forces in the First World War. There were more than two mil­lion such medals dis­trib­uted to those who served and their fam­i­lies, but this is a story of one medal in par­tic­u­lar.

In 1949, when my hus­band Al­bert was a young­ster, he found a Star medal, its rib­bon still at­tached, to­gether with a bat­tered brigade cap, in his home­town of Gadsby, Alta. As chil­dren will do, the hat and rib­bon were played with and con­se­quently were lost over­time. But Al­bert kept the medal. He al­ways hoped to one day find the per­son the medal had been awarded to—james Spi­den, ac­cord­ing to the in­scrip­tion.

On Re­mem­brance Day 2016, the medal was brought out and the story of its find­ing was told to our daugh­ter Vel­vett and her friend, Ellen Peter­son. The girls be­gan a quest to find out more about the medal—why it was awarded, and when and how many were is­sued. That ac­com­plished, they turned their ef­forts to find­ing out more about James Spi­den. Us­ing In­ter­net sites and Canada 411 in par­tic­u­lar, Vel­vett and Ellen searched for any Spi­dens who had im­mi­grated to Canada dur­ing and shortly after the First World War. There was only one Spi­den listed as com­ing to Al­berta in that time pe­riod. Al­bert called up the num­ber the girls pro­vided him with and —lo and be­hold—he found him­self speak­ing with the nephew of James Spi­den. Un­be­liev­able!

The nephew—mr. Adam M. Spi­den—who re­sides in Ed­mon­ton, told Al­bert that James was one of four broth­ers orig­i­nally from Ster­ling, Scot­land. He had been a soldier in the 11th Pla­toon of the Royal Scots Frigates. Un­for­tu­nately, James had been killed in 1918, just be­fore the Armistice was de­clared.

Ac­cord­ing to the girls’ In­ter­net find­ings, it seems that many of the 2,860,000 Star medals dis­trib­uted were awarded posthu­mously, since they were only in­tro­duced in De­cem­ber 1918.

How James Spi­den’s medal was lost in Gadsby, Alta., all those years ago is still a mys­tery. But Al­bert is pleased to know that it is now in the hands of the Spi­den fam­ily. Adam Spi­den had two chil­dren, a daugh­ter now de­ceased, and a son. It’s Al­bert’s hope that the medal will be passed on to the son one day, and cher­ished by the Spi­den fam­ily for gen­er­a­tions to come. ■

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