Found among the silver debris of another sterling purchase. Forgotten and discarded treasures, battered rings, souvenir spoons, broken chains, single earrings and a dull grey cross. That one stands out a little; it’s about an inch and a half wide and tall with the royal cipher of George VI in the center, on the back the number “K.66542” and a name “Pte T.C. Craig”.
What is it worth? Value and price, as we so often have to explain to customers, are two entirely different things. It’s easy enough to calculate the price of the silver. The spot price for an ounce of pure silver is about $20.50 in Canadian dollars. Of course sterling is only 92.5% pure so that makes sterling silver worth about $19.05 per ounce and this cross weighs 14.93 grams giving it a silver value of $9.11. But what is it worth?
The Memorial Cross (more often referred to as the Silver Cross) was instituted on December 1, 1919. It is granted by Her Majesty’s Canadian Government as a memento of personal loss and sacrifice in respect of military personnel who lay down their lives for their country and is engraved with the name and service number of the individual commemorated. During the Second World War the crosses were sent automatically to mothers and wives of Canadian soldiers who died on active duty or whose death was consequently attributed to such duty.
K.66542, as it turns out, is one of a block of numbers allocated to the Canadian Scottish Regiment (Princess Mary's), a distinguished infantry regiment bearing 42 battle honours, some close to a century old, and with its regimental headquarters still at the historic Bay Street Armoury in Victoria.
With the name and service number and regiment it isn’t hard to find his name at Veterans Affairs in the Canadian Virtual War Memorial. Private Thomas Charles Craig, the son of Sam D. and Grace Craig, the husband of Violet Craig, he came from Victoria, British Columbia and he died on November 26, 1944. He is buried at Groesbeek Canadian War Cemetery in the Netherlands. If one cares to look, his name is inscribed on page 282 of the Second World War Book of Remembrance. One can even find a picture of his grave.
A little amateur research soon finds an obituary for Violet Craig, published by the Times Colonist, who died on June 17, of 2007 and which notes that she was "predeceased by her first husband, Thomas Craig in 1944, serving overseas". There is probably more to this story but the amateur researcher begins to run out of resources at this point. Nothing is discovered about of “Sam D. and Grace Craig”. It would appear that such searches have been monetized. Even government web sites lead to commercial genealogy sites advertising “First Month Free!” It’s hard to know what this information is worth, but it would appear that a price has been determined.
One resource that is available is the book “Ready for the Fray” by R.H. Roy; it’s a history of the Canadian Scottish Regiment (Princess Mary’s) from 1920 to 1955. A surprisingly enjoyable book it has a wealth of information on how a reserve regiment survived during the period between the world wars. The latter part of the book covers the regiment’s active service in WWII. It is on page 355, in the chapter covering the fighting from the Leopold Canal through to the Scheldt, that you find;
One such patrol – a fighting patrol led by Lieut. M. C. MacKenzie from “C” Company – ran into the sort of trouble that can happen all too easily at the front. Lieut. MacKenzie took his 15-man patrol out into no-man’s-land in the hope of ambushing the enemy. No Germans fell into their trap, so before first light the patrol started to return. While doing so it ran into a stronger German patrol and a battle ensued. The Canadian Scottish patrol split up as it retired from the enemy force. Six of the men found their way back to “C” Company’s lines. The others crept cautiously back alongside a low ridge. By this time they were lost and moving only by instinct toward their own front. Unknowingly they crossed to the front of the Regina Rifles’ positions and walked through a protective minefield. A burst of fire from a Reginas’ Bren gun was the first warning they had of their location. This machine gun fire killed Lieut. MacKenzie, L/Cpl. B. Mawer and fatally wounded Cpl. T. C. Craig. Pte. J. Nimcan recognized the sound of the Canadian weapon, shouted to the Reginas and rushed to their lines to let them know it was a friendly patrol.
There is little more to be discovered about this medal, or its namesake, at least by this investigator. The only other thing learned in passing is that there is an active market for objects such as these. A Canadian Memorial Cross can sell for as much as $200.00 on eBay. The market place it would seem has set a price for these bits of silver. Still, I am not sure if this constitutes its real worth. This Memorial Cross will go to the Canadian Scottish regimental museum where perhaps a different standard of value will be applied.