TRURO, N.S. – Social media has helped ensure historic service medals, some presented more than a century ago, have a place where they can be treasured for all time.
The Patton family recently took possession of war medals that had been presented to an ancestor many years ago, thanks to the Royal Canadian Legion and one determined woman.
“I’m just amazed by this,” said Donna Patton. “I didn’t even know these medals existed.”
When the Woodstock, N.B., legion closed the medals were passed to Truro Branch 26 Colchester Legion because it was thought there was a connection to this area. They were with the local legion for two years when Gerry Tucker, branch president, showed them to Pat Carrigan, of Saltsprings, who had done some amateur genealogical work. She eagerly took on the task of trying to find out more about the men who’d been presented with the medals, and their families.
With information she found on the medal inscriptions, ancestry.com and by going through obituaries, she soon tracked down Jason Patton on Facebook.
She passed along what she’d learned and the legion emailed Jason Patton, who is with the military and stationed at CFB Shearwater.
“I thought it was pretty suspicious when I started reading,” he recalled. “I was waiting for the part where the message says they can help you claim money.”
Once he discovered it was legitimate, he let his family know, and they recently made the trip from the Halifax area to pick up the medals.
“Dad cleaned out his house and probably gave them to a relative, who gave them to the legion. He wasn’t nostalgic,” said Donna. “I can’t believe how well preserved they are. Now I want to find out more about family history.”
The medals include one from the Boer War, that was presented to George Thomas, her great-grandfather, and a First World War medal presented to his son George Arthur Thomas.
There is also an honourable service pin, that only former soldiers were permitted to wear. It was still in the envelope with G.A. Thomas’s name on it.
Pat Carrigan was pleased to be able to unite the medals with the family.
“I had no idea I would find a living connection,” she said. “Tracking them down started like a jigsaw puzzle, and I had to put the pieces together. Once you start working on it you don’t want to give up.”