BIG RIVER, Sask. – Calling them “irreplaceable,” a Saskatchewan legion hall is hoping the thieves who stole First World War medals from the hall will return them, including a Military Medal.
The Royal Canadian Legion Big River Branch 136 vice president Rob Warriner reported the theft to RCMP on Nov. 1.
“I opened up the glass showcase and went to put a medal in and noticed some things missing … and then I looked further down on the shelf and the medals were gone,” said Warriner.
He says someone gained entry into its military collection case in the main hall and stole a set of World War One medals.
Two other sets of WWI and WWII medals in the legion’s lounge were not touched. There was also money in the till.
It is unknown exactly when the theft took place as there were no signs of forced entry into the hall. RCMP say it could have taken place two weeks prior to the discovery.
“The last hall rental was on Oct. 17, so that gave us a bit of a timeline,” said Warriner.
Warriner took to Facebook, searched the internet for the medals, inquired at pawn shops; anything to get the word out so they can’t be sold.
The medals, belonging to a family member in Big River, had been loaned out to be displayed at the legion.
Former Big River resident and decorated war hero Sgt. Ivery Newton served with the Winnipeg-based Fort Garry Horse Regiment overseas in WWI. He passed away in 1971 in Saskatchewan.
“I talked to the lady that owns the medals, it’s the daughter of Ivery and she said whatever I can to do to try and get them back, she’s very upset, she can’t understand why someone would want to take them, they’re no good to anybody else,” said Warriner.
Other items missing include a coin collection, a homemade knife made out of a couple of shell casings and a book full or world leaders during the Great War.
“The whole thing is that the coin collection is just things you could buy at the post office that might cost $20,” said Warriner.
“Everything else can be replaced but the medals are WWI.”
All three medals are impressed on the rim with the soldier’s number, rank, name and unit. Newton’s medals would be marked with: 15319 SJT. I. NEWTON. F.G.H.
“I’ve checked on the internet and can’t believe how many medals there are for sale,” said Warriner.
“The biggest thing about the WWI medals is the Military Medal, he received it for bravery.”
Newton won the Military Medal in October 1918. According to his citation, he was in charge of eight men on horseback which did “splendid work” in a battle in France.
After the first charge, when many of the enemy had been killed with the sword, Newton rallied his section together and charged a machine gun nest, capturing it with their crew.
The other two medals, the War Medal and the Victory Medal, were awarded to all Canadians who served in France during the Great War.
“It just that’s it’s a local boy that signed up for WWI and volunteered and went over there, he received medals for his efforts, his comradery to Canada,” said Warriner.
“They’re irreplaceable, they’re only important to her family and the legion,” said Warriner.
RCMP say this case is considered theft under $5,000 but its members are treating it with the upmost respect and effort.
“The RCMP have been just so helpful in this … hopefully they can find them,” said Warriner.
Warriner expressed the importance for the medals to be back for Remembrance Day service, so they can be showed with pride deserved by veterans to the people of the Saskatchewan town.
Branch 136 was established in June 1930 and Newton was active in the legion.
“Our wish as a legion, the culprits that have these medals, we would just like them back here where they have the most meaning,” said Warriner.
“I mean if it’s money they are after I suppose we could pay money to get them back, but whatever, we just want the medals back.”
The following is the legion’s address:BR 136
BIG RIVERPo Box 435
Big River, SK S0J 0E0
Anyone with information is asked to contact RCMP at 306-469-2590 or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477.