Friday, February 23, 2007

another CND medal on e-bay;

perhaps we have to secure our history and change the rules:

Medal auction upsets family - News - Medal auction upsets family

February 23, 2007 Canadian Press

HALIFAX–The surviving relatives of a Nova Scotia soldier whose World War I medal is up for auction on eBay say it belongs in a museum and shouldn't be sold off to the highest bidder.

Percy Fenton, originally from Arcadia, N.S., was a member of the No. 2 Construction Battalion, Canada's only black battalion in World War I. Bids for Fenton's 1914-1918 Victory Medal reached more than $5,200 last night, with another day left in an Internet auction that was set up by an anonymous seller.

"What right does somebody have to sell it when he's our family?" Fenton's 70-year-old nephew, Paul Fenton, said from Yarmouth, N.S. "Somebody's making money and I think it should be illegal. I don't like it."

The battalion, based in Nova Scotia's Pictou County, provided logging and construction services overseas. For more than 600 black men from Canada and the U.S., it provided a rare opportunity to serve in Europe.

The Black Cultural Centre in Dartmouth, which already has a Victory Medal from the battalion, wants to display Percy Fenton's medal. But curator Henry Bishop said the centre might not be able to afford it.

It's not illegal to buy or sell Canadian medals, but Canadian Forces members cannot sell medals while they are serving.

War medal given to black Nova Scotia soldier sells for C$7,435 on eBay
February 23rd, 2007

A medal awarded to a Nova Scotia soldier from Canada's only black battalion in the First World War has found its rightful home.

A Victory Medal given to Percy Fenton of Arcadia, N.S., about 90 years ago was bought on eBay late Friday for C$7,435.40 by a Canadian bidding on behalf of the Black Cultural Centre in Dartmouth, N.S. "It's a God-send," said Henry Bishop, the centre's curator.

"We're still reeling from the cost it went to. That's why these things should never have been up for auction."

Dave Thomson of St. George, Ont., placed the winning bid with nine seconds to spare.

Thomson, who has helped purchase and return more than 30 medals listed on eBay, said the seller has agreed to give the cultural centre the time to gather enough donations to pay for the decoration.

"It won't be a problem," said Thomson, who placed the winning bid under the eBay name, "hotrodsandhockey."

"They've already got plenty of donations offered to them, plenty of pledges."

Bishop didn't know exactly much money has been pledged but was also confident that people will make good on their promises.

"It's a miracle that we were able to get it in this way, even though it cost at that level," he said. "It's worth it to have it back where it belongs.

"There's a lot of good people out there. I received a lot of great calls from people I've never met in my life but who came to the aid of the party."

Victory Medals were given to every Allied soldier who served in the war. Canadians received 350,000 of the nearly six million that were handed out.

Bids for other Victory Medals on eBay are as low as $10, but the media coverage and the significance of the battalion drove up the price.

Fenton was a member of the No. 2 Construction Battalion, Canada's first black battalion.

The Nova Scotia-based battalion provided logging, forestry and general construction services overseas. All of the more than 600 regular soldiers were black, while all but one of its commanding officers were white.

Fenton's enlistment papers indicate that he was 17 years old when he enlisted in the battalion in 1916.

After serving as a sapper, a type of military engineer, Fenton returned home after the war and was discharged. He later died after falling ill.

Fenton's relatives have objected to the sale, saying the medal belongs in a museum.

"I don't think it's right," Leslie Fenton, one of Percy Fenton's nephews who is now in his 70s, said from Yarmouth this week.

"I didn't even know that you could sell medals. I didn't even know you were entitled to sell them."

New Democrat MP Peter Stoffer introduced a private member's bill last year that would forbid the sale of medals.

He raised the issue in the House of Commons again Friday, urging the anonymous seller from Nova Scotia to cancel the auction and give the medal to the Black Cultural Centre.

"It is despicable that in this great country somebody would try to financially profit from the valour of other people," said Stoffer.

Bishop expressed thanks for the efforts of Thomson, who he called "a genius in eBay work."

"Our history should not be up for grabs," he said. "Every culture has a right to protect what they think is valuable."