Canadian War Museum completes collection of Saving Life at Sea medals awarded to Canadians in Halifax Explosion

April 23, 2014

Ottawa, Ontario, April 23, 2014 — With the acquisition of the medal awarded to Edmund Ernest Beard, the Canadian War Museum is pleased to announce that it now possesses both Albert Medals for Saving Life at Sea awarded to Canadians in the Halifax Explosion of 1917. The medals testify to the devastation and consequent heroism that followed the wartime collision between the munitions carrier Mont-Blanc and the collier Imo in the city’s harbour.

The Albert Medal for Saving Life at Sea was named in memory of Queen Victoria’s husband, Prince Albert. It was instituted in 1866 and discontinued in 1971. The December 6, 1917 blast in Halifax Harbour was the world’s biggest man-made explosion prior to Hiroshima (1945). It caused the death of some 2,000 people and the total destruction of much of the city.

The Museum completed the set with the acquisition of the medal awarded posthumously to Edmund Ernest Beard, a Stoker Petty Officer with the Royal Naval Canadian Volunteer Reserve (RNCVR). Beard was aboard a small naval vessel that rushed to the aid of the Mont-Blanc, arriving just as the ship exploded. According to the official registry of the disaster, his body was never recovered.

“December 6, 1917 was a tragic day in Canadian history,” said James Whitham, Director General of the Canadian War Museum. “The Albert Medal awarded to Edmund Ernest Beard will help us tell this story to present and future generations.”

The other Canadian recipient of an Albert Medal linked to the explosion was Acting Boatswain Albert Charles Mattison, also of the RNCVR. The Museum acquired his medal in 2011. The Museum’s collection also includes two of the four Albert Medals awarded to members of the British navy for heroism on that day.

This latest acquisition also includes Beard’s three service medals, a memorial plaque and several documents and photographs. The acquisition was made possible in part by the National Collection Fund, which supports the purchase of nationally significant artifacts by the Canadian War Museum and the Canadian Museum of History.

The Canadian War Museum is Canada’s national museum of military history. Its mission is to promote public understanding of Canada’s military history in its personal, national, and international dimensions.


 Media contacts:

Yasmine Mingay
Manager, Public Affairs
Canadian   War Museum
Telephone: 819-776-8608

Avra Gibbs Lamey
Communications and Media Relations Officer
Canadian War Museum
Telephone: 819-776-8607

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