Medal set including Victoria Cross sold to Canadian War Museum for $240,000
Fears that a Victoria Cross medal belonging to a Canadian war hero would be auctioned off to a private collector were allayed Monday evening when the Canadian War Museum bought it and eight other medals for $240,000.
The set of nine medals includes the Victoria Cross awarded to Lt.-Col. Robert Shankland, a member of the 43rd Infantry Battalion of the Cameron Highlanders of Canada based in Winnipeg, after he led attacks against the Germans in Passchendaele, Belgium, during the First World War.
"The story of this great Canadian and his contribution to our history deserves to be preserved in our national military museum," Mark O'Neill, the museum's director general, said in a release.
Bonhams Canada, the Toronto auction house that was handling the sale, declined to name the seller, but it was likely Shankland's family, according to a report last month in the Winnipeg Free Press.
"The War Museum has done Canada a great service," Canadian Heritage Minister James Moore said in the release. "This medal, and the heroism that earned it, are part of our proud history of service and sacrifice."
With its successful purchase, the War Museum now holds in its collections 30 of the 94 Victoria Crosses awarded to Canadians. The eight other medals in the set that the museum bought were also awarded to Shankland at various times.
Shankland was one of three Canadians from the same street in Winnipeg — Pine Street, later renamed Valour Road — to win the Victoria Cross, the highest and most prestigious British and Commonwealth medal for bravery. It is believed to be the only street in the world to have three Victoria Cross winners.
Shankland's story was featured in the Canadian film Passchendaele, and his portrait hangs in the Canadian War Museum.
Before Monday's auction, some people, including Canadian military historian Desmond Morton, were worried about the medal and what it has come to symbolize.
"He's going to be forgotten, because his medal will disappear into someone else's collection," he said.
Now that its owner is the War Museum, however, it will be available for all Canadians to see.