KELOWNA, B.C. — It was a momentous day for the Okanagan Military Museum Thursday as they welcomed a new piece of history into their collection.
Just days before Remembrance Day, Senator Ross Fitzpatrick and his family donated a set of World War I medals to the museum.
These medals were awarded to Senator Fitzpatrick’s uncle, Joseph Howard Fitzpatrick, for his heroic efforts during the war.
Fitzpatrick says his uncle enlisted from Kelowna in 1915 and served in three campaigns: Vimy, Passchendaele, and Cambrai.
While he never knew his uncle, Fitzpatrick says he knows he was a brave man.
“He was wounded in Vimy and he was in hospital for five months after he was wounded. He joined as a private and was promoted to the rank of Lieutenant in the field and he went back into battle at Passchendaele, lived through the Passchendaele battle and then in Cambrai, he again was in the battle and wounded, but it was in that battle that he won the medal for his bravery” Fitzpatrick says.
The Military Cross Joseph Howard Fitzpatrick earned for his bravery is among the medals the family donated.
President of the museum, Tom Wolf says the Military Cross that Fitzpatrick’s uncle earned is one given for gallantry and distinguished service in action.
It is a medal he says is an honour to earn and one that is not often awarded.
“This actually was a set of medals for gallantry and it came with a story. It’s the story of a young man who left his job as a bank clerk, served overseas for a couple of years, won a medal for gallantry and returned to the Okanagan. It’s good for us to be able to provide that education especially since we have students coming in every day especially near Remembrance day,” says Wolf.
The medals have been placed in what is being called a Shadow Box, containing Fitzpatrick’s medals and a description of the citation for receiving the Military Cross.
Senator Fitzpatrick says he’s honoured to have been able to share his uncle’s bravery with the museum.
“I think the work they do here in the museum is very moving. I think this is something that is important that we don’t forget, what so many soldiers did in those wars. It’s very, very moving” Wolf says.
Along with the piece of history, the Fitzpatrick family has also given the museum a money donation.
Wolf says the money will go towards the many projects they other projects they have underway to heighten the museum experience for guests.
Wolf adds, the time of the donation is very fitting as this year marks the hundredth anniversary of the outbreak of the Great War.
The museum has already been working on an area dedicated to that war and now, they have a new piece of history: the story of John Howard Fitzpatrick.