NORTH STORMONT — An Avonmore-connected World War II soldier’s medal recognizing his supreme sacrifice has gone up for auction on eBay, prompting a one-man campaign that is scrambling to retrieve the honour for the home community of the deceased’s widow.
Son of George and Margaret Golley Bachelder, the corporal — a resident of La Tuque, Que. — was married to Mary Whyte McLeod Bachelder of Avonmore. She was widowed when her husband, member of The Black Watch (Royal Highland Regiment) of Canada, lost his life in Europe on Feb. 26, 1945, at the age of 24.
The Memorial Cross would have been presented to either his mother or wife in recognition of his loss, says Dave Thomson of St. George, Ont., who has made it his calling to rescue Canadian war medals from the clutches of collectors when they turn up on eBay. He buys the item and then returns it to either family or a local institution like a museum, legion or municipality. He’s reimbursed by hurriedly securing local pledges in advance of the purchase.
“One I did in Alberta last week is going to the local Council Chambers,” he told NVN, after reaching out to this news outlet.
“At $112.50 U.S., the bidding so far for the Bachelder piece “is not a crazy amount of money,” he points out, anticipating the sum is not likely to exceed $300 in this case.
Thomson says he has saved the medals of over 1,000 Canadian war dead to date and expects to hit 1,100 by the end of this year.
That includes his 400th Memorial Cross, secured last August, he adds.
“It’s just about securing the guy’s valour for his community,” he explains. “If we’re successful, you’ll have a nice smile on your face.”
He suggested he would also contact the Finch Legion and North Stormont Mayor Jim Wert to help raise awareness about the campaign to see the medal purchased and then kept somewhere in the township.
The success of his “hobby,” Thomson says, led eBay Canada to induct him into the company’s 2010 Hall of Fame in the category of Preserving Canadian History. Veterans’ Affairs Canada also recognized him with a Minister’s Commendation for his work in 2009.
While not a veteran himself, Thomson says an uncle of his did fight overseas in the Second World War.
If you’re interested in pledging to the cause before Bachelder’s medal is auctioned off, email Thomson at firstname.lastname@example.org
This article was edited to correct the timing of Thomson’s 400th acquired Memorial Cross.