Nova Scotia

Medal for black N.S. soldier fetches $7,400 on eBay

A war medal awarded to a Nova Scotia soldier who served in Canada's only all black battallion was purchaded on EBay Friday for more than $7,400 on behalf of the province's Black Cultural Centre.

A war medal awarded to a Nova Scotia soldier who served in Canada's only all-black battalion was purchased on eBayFriday for more than $7,400 on behalf of the province's Black Cultural Centre.

The medalwas awarded nearly 90 years earlier to Sapper Percy Fenton of Yarmouth County, who was with the 2nd Construction Battalion based in Pictou, N.S.

"It's a God-send," Henry Bishop, the centre's curator, told the Canadian Press. "We're still reeling from the cost it went to. That's why these things should never have been up for auction."

With nine seconds to spare, Dave Thomson of St. George, Ont., placed the winning bid of $6,401 US (about $7,415 Cdn) for Fenton's 2nd Construction Battalion Victory Medal.

There had been concerns that the centre, a non-profit group, would not be able to add the medal to its collections because it didn't have the money to buy it.

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

Bishop said he didn't know exactly how much money had been pledged but was confident that people would 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."

Like all black Canadians at the time, the first battle Fenton faced was getting into the army. It wasn't until 1916, two years after the start of the war, that black Canadians were allowed to serve in support roles. They were never issued weapons.

Several groups from theYarmouth County region have offered to help with the cost of the medal.The Southwest Shore Development Authority is offering $500, and workers at a call centre say they have raised more than $2,000.

It's not illegal to sell military medals, and there are many of them on eBay. However, few command the price ofthe 2nd Construction Battalion Victory Medal.

With files from the Canadian Press

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