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KIA - Killed in Action Fakes

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flashing newGreat Canadian Heritage Treasure A one bar Paardeberg QSA medal, meaning the person it commemorates did not fight in further campaigns, and was killed in action, or KIA, as collectors love to abbreviate it. Below are three Canadians who were killed at Paardeberg, in Feb. 1900, and would have been entitled to this medal and bar.

But they truly never got them...

As a military collectible a KIA medal ranks zero in the emotional connection to the man whose name is engraved on the rim, for a simple reason: the KIA never touched it.

He did not receive it: never owned it; he never saw it; he never wore it; he never handled it. The medal was never in South Africa, heard no gunfire, saw no battlefield tragedies, or acts of courage, etc... It did not participate in, nor was a witness of a historic event, like a bandolier, uniform, holster, helmet, sword, or letter that actually belonged to veterans who fought. And it never was in a parade or at a dinner on the tunic of the man whom it commemorates. Or overheard fighting men reminisce over close calls, and friends lost in combat.

A KIA medal was a lonely, ignored, and abandoned "back of the drawer item" its entire life.

It is, in fact, about as far as one can get from a soldier and still claim some kind of connectivity.

In fact a KIA medal has less than a minimal emotional connection even with the KIA's relatives, his father, wife, or sisters, who are the only ones who ever got it. It was, after all, only a minimal government administrative memento, something only they ever owned, not the relative whose name it bears. And they only got it many years after he had died.

Believe us, in those many awful days that would lie ahead, when Mom sought private solace from the unbearable grief of losing a beloved child to war, she did not go to the drawer to fondle those hateful medals, but sought out, instead, his photos, his childhood report cards, his Bible, and his letters from the front. After all, they had all been part of him. See below.

The KIA medals have as much a real connection to the deceased soldier as the page in the Book of Remembrance in the Peace Tower, in Ottawa, where their names are inscribed. Just as the government routinely prints out duplicate pages of the Book for family members who want them, so it also stamped out medals for KIAs. Neither has any actual connection to the KIA himself.

On ebay voracious medal hucksters trumpet in grossly unseemly eagerness in the headlines if a medal belonged to a KIA. By inference they attempt to sucker gullible buyers into believing they are offering a "piece of the hero," as if he somehow wore this on his tunic when he was killed, and that somehow it was retrieved for posterity, and now is - pant, pant - luckily, available on ebay.

When in fact the medal was stamped out, only for the family, years after the KIA died. Connection to the deceased - zero.

Unlike medals of some veterans who survived, and which were presented to them by generals or the Duke of York (in Canada in 1901) or King Edward VII (in London to Lord Strathcona's Horse), and who for decades looked after them, and once a year pinned them on their tunics for the annual Remembrance Day services.

THOSE medals pack enormous punch and emotional baggage with them. They overheard hundreds of conversations of battles fought and of colleagues who died. And were, in all likelihood, the veteran's most proud possessions for the rest of his life.

This Paardeberg KIA medal pales in power, as a collectible, with artifacts actually handled by men in the field of battle. like parts of uniforms, equipment they used, or letters they wrote.

This is, of course, the case with all historical collectibles. Those items used or actually owned by the notables are valued far more than plaques, medals, or paper issued, in their name or honour, long after they are deceased.

KIA QSA - 1900

Orig. medal - Image Size - 23 cm
Found - ebay

A Salesman's Sample - A lot of medal salesmen or ebay hucksters try to promote KIA medals as some sort of special deal, when, in fact, they are exactly the opposite, as we show below, and are decidedly inferior to a lot of other classes of collectibles.

In our estimation there is no reason for them to have a special significance as a historic memento, since they have only the slimmest "years later" government administrative connection to the men whose names they bear.

They have no more merit as a collectible than the World War I's "Dead Man's Penny," the Memorial Cross, and the xerox Letter of Condolence complete with fake signature from King George V.

Though there are even people who believe these are really personal letters from the King himself, resulting from some private personal grief he felt.

Still for the unthinking - and unfeeling - collector KIA medals seem to have some special appeal which we cannot decipher. In fact a lot of collecting is actually quite mindless.


Great Canadian Heritage Treasure
A Penny for Your Sacrifice - Thanks to a compassionate Canadian Government, some 65,000 of these very fine KIA war plaques (popularly called the Dead Man's Penny) were sent to grateful Canadian families as a reminder of a brother, father, uncle, nephew, or cousin, who never returned from the War to End All Wars.

Or was it to Make the World Safe for Democracy? Or was it a War Against Terrorism...? Sorry, we're not quite sure what the politicians were trying to do... Or what they accomplished with their millions of dead... But we'll grant you, they did send out a nice plaque...

Clearly the government felt that just a Boer War type KIA medal was not enough to honour the huge numbers of dead that resulted from the folly of early 20th century politicians.

In the Boer War some 300 Canadians had died, most from disease, over a three year period. All very manageable and excusable to the vast majority of Canadians.

A dozen years later the politicians got Canada involved in the worst war in history which ultimately killed some 17 million military and civilian victims.

And for what? No one knows. But we do know it simply set the stage for an even worse war less than 20 years later that killed another 75 million. But there was progress. Only 25 million military men died. Far more dead - 50 million - were civilians, you know, women and kids.

It set the tone for modern wars where white western European Judeo-Christian military men - you know, who gave you World Wars I and II - arrange it so that as they play with their war toys, mostly civilians - oh, and only Muslims - die: Gaza, Lebanon, Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, and Iran, coming up...

In WWI Canada lost 65,000 dead, a huge jump from the 300 of the Boer War a dozen years earlier. The government had a tough decision to make: quit joining stupid wars, or issue another medal. It hastily opted to produce the Dead Man's Penny for every "KIA."

Emotional or actual connection to the man who died? The same as a KIA medal - zero. So these large and heavy bronzes, which are far nicer than a medal, are readily available on ebay or at militaria auctions for under $100.

Memorial Plaque, Joseph Roscoe 1917
Orig. bronze - Size - 12 cm
Found - Orangeville, ON





The most common KIA medal is the Memorial Cross - far right of the three - sent, years after the death, to wives and mothers of men who died while enlisted in the service during the war.

Mothers and wives got them even for men who died of disease, in accidents, or drowned at sea.

KIA sets are the preferred kind of medals for a salesman to hype, especially if the KIA died a violent death, Killed in Action.

Though medal salesman refer to all manner of KIA deaths as Killed in Action. It has a nice ring to it and sounds like the death was noble, and worthwhile...

So the first place they look, when a new set of medals comes into their hands, is the national registry of veterans who died in the war. Hoping of course, that the vet is listed as a KIA there. And if he is, BINGO, It means they can ask for top dollar, for a set of medals...

Go to Deceased Canadian Veterans

Some Memorial Crosses were awarded many years after the war was over, for special reasons.

So Memorial Crosses were given to non KIAs as well.

flashing newGreat Canadian Heritage Treasure
Boer War Bandolier, F Warren, S Burnett - 1900-1902
Orig. leather - Size - 1.25 m
Found - Hamilton, ON
A fabulous bandolier personally signed by two Canadian Boer War soldiers who carried it on the battlefields of South Africa.

KIA medals are always hyped as "named" because it is supposed to give them a cachet above the norm of the vast bulk of anonymous militaria detritus that is out there. But that is a bogus claim.

"Named" is best when the historic actor - soldiers on active duty in our case, not the government ironworker or stamping machinist back home - name the item themselves - in pencil or pen, or scratch it, etc. - to show they owned a piece of militaria and used it on the battlefield.

It is a sad reality that the KIA is physically unable to do that. As a result his medal lacks the powerful personal punch non-KIA medals receive from having been in the personal possession, for 40 or 50 years, in the hands of men who survived.

It's just like in art collecting, where the most passionate collectors prefer original art, actually created, touched, and signed by the person to whom it is named. That doesn't mean you cannot enjoy reproduction art - like a Robert Bateman "print" - ground out impersonally by an IKEA printing press. Or a mechanically stamped out KIA medal.

Go to Photomechanical Reproduction

KIA Bandolier - Research by our curator uncovered the fact that Sam Burnett, who signed the bandolier in the Boer War, was Killed in Action in World War I, sixteen years later. Had the seller of the bandolier known that - he had not done research or deciphered the name which was very hard to make out - he would have jacked up the asking price considerably because of the bandolier's newly KIA acquired status.

Go to Signed Bandoliers
flashing newGreat Canadian Heritage Treasure
George Butler & Co. Utility Knife - Capt. James Cooper Mason, 1899
Orig. knife - Size - 11 cm body
Found - Cambridge, ON
A fabulous "named" utility knife which Lt. James Mason DSO, had engraved before embarking for South Africa, and a date with destiny, as the man who took the first ever real combat photo in world history.

Unlike his Boer War medals, which James only received many years after he returned to Canada, he took this "named" knife with him on campaign.

There is no shame in "coming back alive" or failing to die for your country. In fact Victoria Crosses were not issued at first for men who were deemed foolhardy enough to do something - however heroic - that got them killed.

James, like all the Canadians got exactly the same QSA medal as the KIAs, but he got more bars, personally handled his, and treasured it for years, which raises his to a more emotional level of a real connection to a veteran.

Go to James' Stolen Medals
Named Items - "Named" items are preferred by memorabilia collectors, a knife that belonged to - or was named to - someone, being far more desirable than just any old anonymous knife. The personal punch is huge, and on a rising scale.

But there are many levels of "named" starting with the lowest:

- "after war" memorial stuff - plaques, medals, certificates, etc. - in memory of
- heresay stuff - "Someone said it belonged to my grandpa - Bill I think his name was - in the war."
- part of a family collection to a named but undocumented soldier
- part of a war collection from a documented soldier in a certified regiment
- inscribed war item from a documented soldier in a certified regiment
- autographed war item from a documented soldier in a certified regiment
- autographed war item from a documented soldier Killed in Action
- autographed war item from an important or famous soldier

The best possible rack of KIA medals it's possible to get is this group that belonged to Boer War Victoria Cross winner Lt. Frank A Maxwell. He also won the DSO, the second highest military medal for bravery it's possible to get. This rack comes with powerful personal punch.

Frank actually wore the seven medals on the left, for years...

He was lucky to have survived the hailstorm of Boer fire while he repeatedly went back to try to rescue the Q battery guns at Koornspruit.

Lord Kitchener saw he was made of rare stuff and made him his ADC during the last year and a half of the Boer War.

Frank became a Brigadier-General in World War I.

Frank Maxwell was also one of the rare generals who were killed on the front lines in World War I - shot by a sniper, while he was sharing the danger in the face of the enemy with his men, not, like some other generals, taken out by a random artillery round while on one of those infrequent "inspections" of the lines.

This rack was sold by Spink in 1998, for 78,000 pounds, and is now in a UK National Trust Collection.

It is, in fact, priceless.

From a time when generals were leaders of men... and not afraid to show it, on the battlefield, not just the parade ground.

 

 

This KIA only lasted two days in the war zone, before he was killed, trumpets this slavering ebay seller.

"YES, I SAID KIA 5th." He meant the 15th, two days after the KIA joined the regt.

It's all so unseemly crass and tasteless.

He doesn't say that none of the stuff he includes with the medal had anything to do with the real man, all just copies of papers.

Wouldn't you rather prefer something which was really on site, and belonged to a soldier, like maybe a letter he wrote from the battlefield?

flashing newGreat Canadian Heritage Treasure Of all war memorabilia, letters home by soldiers, are the most emotionally gripping, especially those from World War I, when practically any moment, of every day, they could expect death, in the worst war, till then, ever experienced by mankind.

Unlike the case with all KIA medals, the soldier actually handled this item and wrote this letter near a battlefield in France before he was killed. That is punch that no post war administrative KIA medal can match.

This soldier letter is among those that are the most tragic of all - the last one written to Dad - "the best of Fathers" - before he was killed in action.

724664 Private William Ross Campbell was from Argyle Ontario, a tiny crossroad, just a few kilometres east of Lake Simcoe.

He signed his Attestation Paper on Dec. 4, 1915, when he was 25.

He was an original member of the 109th Canadian Battalion, and arrived in France in early October 1916, as a replacement to the 20th Canadian Infantry Battalion. 

Shortly after arriving in France he was wounded at the Somme, suffering hearing loss from a shell concussion.

He rejoined his battalion a few months later, after being temporarily attached to an entrenching battalion, and in early 1917 he participated in trench raids in the Vimy sector.

He participated in the attack at Vimy Ridge which began on April 9th, 1917.

He was killed by shellfire on the 8th of May 1917 in the fighting at Fresnoy, and obliterated into the mud of France...

Far, far, from the green fields of Argyle, that he used to plow...

Go to Battlefield Letter
Last Letter Home - Pvt. William Ross Campbell, Argyle, Ontario, Oct 4, 1916
Orig. letter - Size - 13 x 20 cm
Found - Waterloo, ON



 

 

KIA medals are also hyped in price if the particular medal was illustrated in a book.

Or if the soldier got another medal that was above the norm of service medals, like a DCM.

This soldier won his by killing two bombers who were attempting to blow up a gun.

Alas, his penchant for acts of daring do ultimately got his mother the Memorial Cross...

All the hyping to get top price for KIA medals does not always work.

Many weeks after being posted on ebay, not a single one of the many KIA Memorial Cross medals we feature on this page got a single bidder. None sold.

Poor Investment Which in auction terms means the seller was far too greedy, saying a particular medal was worth what he was asking for it.

The market says in the strongest terms possible - No way. If you had bought, you would have vastly overpaid for a medal for which you could never get your money back.

Alas, our curator almost did that once - but for a good reason - see John Baker below.

 

Another KIA paraded on ebay.

But look again at the pile of stuff being offered..

None of the medals and support materials had any connection to the real man.

The medals were made years after he died.

The papers are all copies of lists and photos.

There is no evidence that any are original documents, just photocopies or reproductions etc., and also have no connection to the man.

And they want almost $400 US for these duplicates...

flashing newGreat Canadian Heritage Treasure Of course superior to a KIA,.latter day, "administrative" medal of Jutland, and which was never there, are these two candlesticks which were.

They heard the huge guns of Iron Duke pounding the German fleet during the biggest naval battle of World War I. And felt the shudder of the concussions, and the pounding of hundreds of feet across the teak planking of the decks from which these souvenirs were cut, later, when Admiral Jellicoe's flagship ultimately went to the breakers.

They probably heard Jellicoe's voice and that of excited gunners shouting instructions during the fight as German shells exploded, raising giant geysers alongside the surging ship.

Go to Ships of War
Candlesticks HMS Iron Duke - 1916
Orig. teak - Size - candle sticks - 17 cm
Found - El Segundo, CA

flashing newGreat Canadian Heritage Treasure Valuations of KIA medals can be totally ludicrous depending on circumstances.

When bidding on a wonderful Boer War era collection of the uniform and personal effects of John Baker, who happened to be killed later in World War I, our curator was heroically trying to keep it all together while the family was selling it off piecemeal to get the most money.

The last thing to sell was his KIA Memorial Cross which we hoped to get since we had managed to keep together for posterity everything else that belonged to him.

So we were willing to spend a bit - quite a bit - beyond what the medal was actually worth, just to keep it all together. Rationallizing that we would average out the cost across the collection.

Unfortunately there was a loud and fanatic militaria collector there who had failed to bid successfully on anything at this huge militaria auction. So he fixated on this common medal. As he bragged to friends afterwards, he wasn't going to go home empty handed.

And the John Baker collection became the victim.

People gasped as the bidding went to $725 (plus taxes) when we dropped out, knowing this was stupid, but trying to keep John Baker's things from being scattered.

Not as long as he lives will that collector ever get back all the money he spent. He literally burned up many hundreds of dollars he will never see again.

So do you really believe that John Baker's Memorial Cross was worth $834.

The take-no-prisoners bidders, who will spend anything to get something they want, regardless of whether the item is worth it, can be found at any auction.

They totally distort the valuations of memorabilia and leave the very false impression that items are worth the ludicrous amounts they paid.

If you outbid them, when you come to try to sell or resell the item later, you will soon discover what a horrible bath you took. And just burned up hundreds, sometimes thousands of dollars you will never see again...

Go to John Baker
Pastel Portrait, Sgt. John Baker KIA - c 1908

Orig. pastel - Image Size - 41 x 51 cm
Found - Cookstown, ON

Waving the OHIP Card - There is one notorious bidder at eastern Ontario auctions, who for years has outbid absolutely everyone to get all the Canadian antique furniture and china ware she wants for her B&B collection (and tax write-offs), frequently paying double or triple what items are really worth just to end up with them.

Being a doctor, wags say, she "just waves her OHIP card" at the auctioneer. At one small country auction her bill was $55,000.

When she (often) encounters another equally rabid bidder who is desperate to get only ONE item at any price, the auctioneer smiles broadly, and antique prices, not valuations, reach the (ridiculous) stratosphere. If you get sucked in, you lose, big time...

But there is a way we could get a Memorial Cross for John Baker...

"Unnamed" medals show up on ebay from time to time.

Now why would anyone want to pay $250 CAN for a medal that never belonged to a vet? And has no name? (Actually some family members who want to hide their tracks, over selling a family heirloom, erase the names.)

And why are there so many bids?

That's because some unscrupulous collectors see an opportunity to have the name of their choice engraved on the back, maybe a VC or DSO, maybe someone "Shot at Dawn," or to complete a medal set they already have but which lacks the Memorial Cross.

A visit to the jeweler and when the medal comes back it has a new identity and value. But it will be a fake...

Forging a name and a service number is easy on Memorial Crosses because the surface is flat, unlike other round medals where the name is inscribed on the rim.

But you can spot fakes by checking for "age burn." The wear and tonality of the medal back should overlap into the grooves of the inscription. If the pitting is different, lighter in colour, then the name was added recently and is a fake.

Note the uniformity of tone across the Oliver inscription. If the Memorial Cross back is shiny, suspect a burnishing to cover up a new inscription.

Absolutely, by the time you read this, the medal will already have a new name inscribed on the back, and then stuck in a manure pile for a week, to give it the uniform "age burn" people expect to see.

If only they had died a better death...

To KIA medal sellers it is not good enough that a soldier
merely died for his country. It's got to be a violent ending...
the more so, the better...

A major ebay dealer in Canadian medals - surlamer86, from Beautiful Mount Rainier Country - has a carefully worked out sliding scale of values that it places on their Canadian KIA Memorial Crosses, that depend on the degree of violence with which a serviceman managed to meet his demise...

Values of KIA Memorial Crosses

- you only died ($199)
- died in a car crash ($249)
- died in a flying accident ($299)
- died in an emergency landing ($499).

And if you managed to take a lot of others with you, a KIA's medals top out at $999.98.

 

ebay sellers just love it when people die - KIAs or the people they are sent to wipe out.

In fact, the bombing run which this ebay seller trumpets, wiped out mostly women and children. Only Germans of course.

He hopes to boost his ebay sales.

Murder and mayhem in war is always good for business which is why the corporate classes promote wars so much.

Millions in government contracts - billions, actually streamed out of government coffers to fuel the war against the Muslims in Afghanistan.

German women and children, in extraordinary numbers, were victims of bombers in WWII; Muslim women and children in the Afghan War in the 21st century were the victims in extraordinary numbers in our day.

All to keep taxpayer money flowing into the private bank accounts of the rich and super-rich.

This ebay seller hopes all the bloodletting will boost his sales potential for these KIA medals, none of which the unfortunate victim ever saw.

flashing newGreat Canadian Heritage Treasure If you're into peddling massacres, mayhem, blood and gore, like the ebay huckster is above, to give his KIA medals some historic feel, why settle for a purely administrative item when you can have the real thing?

Here is genuine Boer War blood on the autograph book of Nurse Emily Hay as she collected the signatures of generals (Methuen - longest serving general in the Boer War), top surgeons (Kendal Franks - he married Bobs' daughter), and two Victoria Cross winners (Nurse and Baptie - Colenso where Bobs' only son Freddie was killed) among over 100 others she got.

Now, which is superior, on all levels, as a historic collectible: these names added in the actual theatre of war, at the time, by the hands of the men themselves, or KIA medals, industrially stamped out in the UK, years after the death of the KIA, and sent back for his Canadian next of kin? Who instantly chucked them in a back drawer.

Go to Emily's Bloody Book
Page, Boer War Autograph Book of Emily Henrietta Hay 1900-1902
Orig. autograph book - Size - 6.5"
Found - Hastings, UK



Still, some collectors don't care if historic artefacts have a real historic feel to them.

Here a seller has managed to convince some bidders that this KIA medal which has no actual, no emotional, no personal tie to the man whose name is inscribed on the rim, is worth acquiring.

In fact the family probably never even got it for six or seven years after Pvt. Blunt was killed in 1915.

So it doesn't even have real World War I provenance, probably being issued in 1920 or later.

First the war had to end, to see who would win, and who could issue the Victory Medal.

Then the medals had to be designed, and the long process of certification, proof of service, eligibility, and distribution set up. Since government bureaucrats did it, it took years and years.

Boer War vets had to wait ages for their medals to arrive, many of them having to write numerous letters of inquiry before they finally got them four, five, and six years after the war was over.

This impersonal medal ranks very low on our scale of worthwhile "named" historical memorabilia items.

 

Another KIA promo.

Another Aussi using Gallipoli - a noted Allied disaster - to hype a set of KIA medals.

Probably Aussie collectors ended up with both sets all because Mel Gibson made a famous movie on the conflict.

But there is a difference with this set.

The two Boer War medals on the left were actually awarded to the man, and may even have been pinned on his tunic by some eminent royal or general.

He probably wore them for years after 1900, to veteran parades and dinners. They are real historic artifacts with a tie to the man who earned them and cared for them.

They actually heard him laugh and cry as he wore them at veteran's dinners and recalled friends and comrades that were lost to the Dogs of War.

Not so the other three medals which he never saw, never got, and spent their entire lives in drawers. Never went to a dinner or parade...

They were sent to his next of kin years after he died.

They are merely also-rans in the roller coaster of history.

The first two medals are valuable for that reason, the three others, basically valueless, except as members of the set.

Not only because millions were issued, but because the KIA had no personal connection to them at all.

flashing newGreat Canadian Heritage Treasure A powerful and most unusual trench art souvenir that was part of one of the biggest military fiascos of WWI.

Unlike all KIA medals, it was truly a witness to history.

And unlike the WWI medals above to a KIA from Gallipoli, this shell was really there.

This casing decoration was hammered out by the "enemy," probably a Turkish soldier during the disastrous British Gallipoli campaign of 1915, a bloodletting which the Canadians happily missed but not the Australians and Kiwis.

The casing is German, a 15 pounder made in Dusseldorf in 1912. German generals and munitions helped the Turks defend their homeland against attack by the Allies.

The shell is long gone, probably exploding among some charging Anzacs who never returned home.

It was found in the old market in Istanbul in 1968.

Turkish (German) Artillery Shell Casing - Gallipoli, 1915
Orig. brass - Size - 17 cm
Found - Istanbul, Turkey (1969)
Great Canadian Heritage Trashure Will we never escape from the clutches of the fake Kerrison KIA Gallipoli bugle?

In 2007 this bugle appeared on ebay, purporting to be some kind of family presentation bugle, from a UK seller, accompanied by hot hype about its relationship to a real bugler with the Norfolk Regiment: FRJ Kerrison, who was killed at Gallipoli in 1915.

It sold for 235 pounds - over $400 US at the time. We declined the sale - the seller was agreeable, and it went to an eager under bidder. We had pointed out all the problems with it, which the seller said "astonished" him.

Two months later, the UK police called us, enquiring about our relationship to the bugle. It seems the under bidder now suspected he had been had with a fraudulent bugle and was seeking criminal action against the ebay seller.

We explained our problem with the bugle as it being wildly overstated and totally without supporting proof of any of the professed authenticity of anything about the bugle.

The detective officer said "It looks like fraud to me and we'll pursue that."

We heard nothing more.

So fake associations to KIAs are huckstered with other artifacts, not just KIA medals.

Go to Fake KIA Bugle

Bugle with writing on it...
Orig. silver plated metal - Size - 28 cm
Found - ebay.UK
Great Canadian Heritage Treasure What a fabulous discovery is the camera that Lt. JC Mason took with him to South Africa in 1899, and with which he captured so many important scenes of Canadians on their first ever military expedition overseas.

Unlike a Paardeberg KIA medal, this camera was there, on the very battlefield, and in the hands of a soldier who fought. It has real punch, as a historical artifact, that no KIA medal can match.

He proudly had his name and that of his regiment printed on the case.

Some may say it was done to prevent theft. That would be wrong. More than anything James did it for pride.

As a long time Canadian militiaman - amateur soldiers banded together to protect Canada from foreign invaders - James did it to express pride, to give the lie to those who said his countrymen were mere amateurs, playing at war.

The Royal Canadian Regiment was giving notice to the world that its men were second to none in their willingness to to serve their country with skill and passion.

Go to Battlefield Camera

Now, what would you rather have: a page from the Book of Remembrance, a KIA medal, a Memorial Cross, or a real historic artifact THAT WAS THERE, and touched the life of a soldier, as he took part in a mighty and violent national historical event...?


#2 Model A Kodak Folding Pocket Camera - Lt. JC Mason, DSO RCR, 1899
Orig. camera and case - Size - 12 x 17 x 4 cm
Found - Cambridge, ON
flashing newGreat Canadian Heritage Treasure
Games Table Coffin Stools, Bible, Report Cards, Letter, Photos, of Joseph Barfoot - 1918-1944
Orig. oak - Size - 23 cm
Found - Toronto, ON
The personal mementos left behind by Flt. Sgt. Joseph Barfoot who died at the age of 25 in a Canso crash while on a patrol over the Pacific in 1944.

They pack a powerful punch far beyond any cold medals the government ever sent out.

No one knows where Joe's government pro forma issued Memorial Cross or his KIA medals are today. Did his wife - who remarried shortly after the war - just throw them out, to expunge bad memories of the worst event in her life? After all, what kind of recompense are they for a dear life snuffed out long before his time?

For the rest of their lives, in conversations, his mother and father, Olive and Joe, referred to their only son with immense sadness as "Dear Joe." Decades after anyone in government had passed him by without a moment's thought, he remains firmly entrenched in the hearts of those who once held him dear in life.

His personal possessions are still in the family. They - not his medals - offered the only comfort to his Mom during private moments trying to cope with her grief.

You can keep your damn KIA medals...

Together in life, all three are separated, forever, in death.

Young Joe was buried in a military plot in Toronto's Mt. Pleasant Cemetery in 1944.

Olive died in 1978, and, ever the liberal free spirit, willed her body to the University of Toronto's medical school. No one knows where her remains ended up

Joe died, in his 90s, in 1991 and wanted his ashes scattered on his son's grave. Instead of just doing it, his only daughter asked for permission and was refused by the cemetery, which is interested only in making money, not hosting freeloaders... Fearful of flouting authority, she scattered her father's ashes in a country churchyard.

Go to Dear Joe
In the Boer War the KIAs came from a broad social spectrum - they were all volunteers from civvy street. (Like Joe Barfoot above in WW II.)

The loudest promoters of the war, followed through by also joining up. In the UK, Dukes, Lords, Earls, and Princes signed up to lay their lives on the line. Many died.

In Canada the Minister of Militia lost his only son in combat, and leading popular sports heroes joined up and died.

At a time when politics was far from democratic, the line-up of those who bared their breasts to enemy fire on the front line, was egalitarian to a fault.

Generals & Colonels - In the opening months of the war, three British generals, and countless colonels were killed, showing their men how it was done, by leading from the front.

Go to Leading from the Front

They wouldn't dream of asking their men to do what they themselves would not do. And top British officers died in overwhelming numbers proving they had the right stuff.

Sham Democracy - Not so in supposed modern democratic Canada, during the Afghan War after 2006, when, for the first time in Canada's history, the power elites that run Canada had a paid professional army - not the volunteer force that fought WW I, and WW iI - at their disposal to do with what they wanted.

Privates and Corporals - They eagerly sent over 157 ordinary Canadian servicemen and women to die In Afghanistan, virtually alone and abandoned to face the enemy - no loudmouth Lord Black, no upper class scions of the bellowing classes led the way - in a war the vast majority of Canadians opposed from the beginning.

(Though courageously promoting the pushing of hapless young privates to face down the Taliban in Afghanistan, Conrad - who's notorious for loving to play "dress up" - once was fond of putting on his "Honourary Colonel's" war costume, complete with his little sword, where the Taliban can't get at him, on the parade ground.

Though not lately - he's been in a US prison for most of the last three years, where, we're told, he's now dressing up in a French Maid's outfit for his cell mate. Just another in a long line of recent creepy Canadian Colonels and Generals who deviate grossly from accepted rules of normal, decent, honest, and legal behaviour.)

In the front rank on parade with the Queen - And dramatically unlike, during the Boer War, when those who shouted for war the loudest were first in the front ranks on the battlefield, none of the jingoistic media editorial classes, none of the war-mongering political elites, none of the bellicose corporate bosses sent any of their sons and daughters to fight and die for their beliefs in the dust of Afghanistan.

No Aspers, no Blacks, no Reismans, no Schwartzs, no Frums, no Westons, no Harper Ministers... laid anything personal on the line. Preferring to order other unfortunates to do what they themselves would not... Exactly like their upper class friends, the Bushes, Cheneys, and Clintons in the US.

And send instead, a paid military, made up of a lot of poor dumb and helpless kids from backwoods Canada, with little education, no other prospects, and with no clout among the elites that run Canada.

157 totally wasted young lives... And for what?

You guessed it...

Their families will get a KIA medal out of it...

And sooner or later, you'll be able to buy it on ebay...

 

For I Am Dead

 

 

The Dead Soldier's Regret

The birds no longer sing in trees,
No laughing children round my knees,
Gone are the things once gave me ease,
For I am Dead
...

My kinfolk loaned me, while I was well;
You sent me to that Afghan hell,
And shipped them back an empty shell,
For I am Dead
...

Don’t tell my kin how proud you are,
That I died for cause in Kandahar;
Is it not just more than a bit bizarre?
For I am Dead
...

Don’t offer me your hollow praise,
That might have helped in my living days,
Or prop me up for your patriot displays,
For I am Dead
...

Don’t raise to me your empty toast,
Belie my service with your pompous boast;
My vibrant being’s now a ghost,
For I am Dead
...

Don’t cover me with your showpiece flag;
It’s only a piece of fabric rag;
My big toe’s tied with the meaningful tag,
For I am Dead
...

Don’t rue me on Remembrance Day,
Give up just a minute of your day;
Just go on with your usual play,
For I am Dead
...

And you, at the highway overpass,
Who gawk as the parade of hearses pass,
I say, stay home, and save your gas,
For I am Dead
...

Your signs and flags give me no cheer,
No solace from your sometime tear;
Go home, relax, and drink your beer,
For I am Dead
...

So save me all the mournful sighs;
I chose the path to my demise,
When I was young and most unwise,
So now I’m dead
...

Instead, grieve innocents, in a land afar,
For the many I killed, in a useless war,
Yes, the women and children, in Kandahar,
For they too, are Dead
... DEAD... DEAD...

;