Pieces of the past back home

Rare First World War medals do­nated to the Prince Ed­ward Is­land Reg­i­ment Mu­seum will be on dis­play

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - FRONT PAGE - BY MAU­REEN COUL­TER

Some rare medals be­long­ing to an Is­lan­der who died dur­ing the First World War have come home.

Thanks to a gen­er­ous donor in Scot­land, they’ve gone from lost to found and now have a per­ma­nent home at the Prince Ed­ward Is­land Reg­i­ment Mu­seum.

The medals are con­sid­ered un­com­mon, as they are part of a cal­vary reg­i­ment, which tends to have fewer men, said Capt. Greg Gal­lant, cu­ra­tor of the mu­seum.

“A cal­vary reg­i­ment is about half of what an in­fantry bat­tal­ion would be,” said Gal­lant.

The medals be­longed to Cpl. Thomas War­bur­ton Hooper, of Char­lot­te­town, who died near Ugny-le-Gay,

France, on March 23, 1918.

Hooper fought with Lord Strath­cona’s Horse (Royal Cana­di­ans) and was one of ap­prox­i­mately 6,800 Is­lan­ders en­listed in the First World War. Ap­prox­i­mately 500 Is­lan­ders died in the four-year war.

Hooper was in Western Canada work­ing when the war broke and promptly en­listed with the First Con­tin­gent at the age of 25 in Waver­ley, Sask.

He was then trans­ferred to the Lord Strath­cona’s Horse (Royal Cana­di­ans) where he fought in France with that unit.

He spent three years in ac­tive ser­vice, tak­ing part in prac­ti­cally ev­ery bat­tle in which the Cana­di­ans were en­gaged.

Hooper was 29 years old when he died in the days lead­ing up to the fa­mous Bat­tle of Moreuil Wood. He was buried in Chauny Com­mu­nal Ceme­tery Bri­tish Ex­ten­sion in France.

The mu­seum re­ceived Hooper’s three medals from John Cun­ning­ham of Scot­land who pur­chased them at an auc­tion back in Novem­ber.

Cun­ning­ham was prompted to pur­chase the medals be­cause his own grand­fa­ther was part of the same unit as Hooper and was wounded in ac­tion the day Hooper died.

“I don’t know if my grand­fa­ther knew Cor­po­ral Hooper, only that they fought in the same wood in the same ac­tion and may have,” said Cun­ning­ham in an email. “The fact that they were so close when their fates were de­cided prompted me to buy the medals.”

Cun­ning­ham reached out to The Guardian in late De­cem­ber in a let­ter to the editor seek­ing Hooper’s fam­ily in Char­lot­te­town.

He de­cided to do­nate the medals to the mu­seum as he con­sid­ered him­self only the “tem­po­rary cus­to­dian” of the medals and records.

Gal­lant said this do­na­tion was a nice ges­ture as it cost Cun­ning­ham over $1,000 to pur­chase the medals.

“I think it’s ex­cel­lent,” said Gal­lant. “This guy doesn’t know us. He doesn’t know us from a hole in the ground. It’s very nice of him to do that.”

Hooper had four brothers and one sis­ter. His brother, Fred, was also over­seas and lost his eye while serv­ing with No. 2 Siege Bat­tery in France.

Gal­lant said they have searched for Hooper’s im­me­di­ate next of kin but have had no luck.

“He had a great-aunt that lived in Fredericton, but she is long gone and a great-nephew that lived in Cal­i­for­nia, and he’s long gone. All of the fam­ily is gone of that group.”

HEATHER TAWEEL/THE GUARDIAN

Greg Gal­lant, cu­ra­tor of the Prince Ed­ward Is­land Reg­i­ment Mu­seum, holds some medals re­cently do­nated to the mu­seum from a man in Scot­land.

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