Canadian Memorial Cross is donated to auction to raise money for the Royal British Legion

David James holding the Canadian WW1 medal. Picture: Matthew Usher. David James holding the Canadian WW1 medal. Picture: Matthew Usher.

Saturday, May 24, 2014
6:30 AM

A Canadian Memorial Cross is among the first items to be donated to an auction of wartime relics and memorabilia which aims to raise £1m for the Royal British Legion.

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Plans to hold the Great Centenary Charity Auction at Raynham Hall, near Fakenham, were announced during a ceremony there last month.

Col David James, chairman of the Fakenham and District Branch of the Royal British Legion, urged people to donate their military items to raise money for bomb blast victims.

The first consignment of donated items includes the memorial cross, given to the family of fallen Canadian soldier Private H Sayers, who was killed in action during the Great War.

Also contained in the original box is a certificate which says “He died for King and Country” and is signed by General H Guthrie, Master of Militia and Defence.

“I am so pleased to receive this Canadian Medal for the auction,” said Mr James. “As a regular visitor to the war graves in Flanders, I was shocked to see how many soldiers from Canada, Australia and New Zealand gave their lives and are buried in the cemeteries. If you go to the main Canadian memorial, the numbers are staggering.

“So its fitting that the first thing that arrives for the auction is a memorial medal that was given to the family of one of these soldiers. It is nice to get the Commonwealth involved in the auction.”

After receiving the donation, Mr James has been able to discover that the soldier whose name is inscribed on the medal was killed in action in April 19, 1916 at the age of 32. Private Sayers, who was the son of William H and Mary Sayers, is buried at the Aeroplane Cemetery in Belgium.

Mr James, who runs the James and Sons auction business in Fakenham, estimates that the medal could fetch about £80-£120.

Other items which have so far been sent in for the auction include uniforms, bayonets, and an officer’s camp bed which went to the Crimea.

In a year which marks the centenary of the First World War and the 70th anniversary of the D-Day landings, the auction is raising money to support The Royal British Legion Centre for Blast Injury Studies at Imperial College, London.

The auction will be held at Raynham Hall in September. For more information see www.jamesandsonsauctioneers.com or www.britishlegion.org.uk/remembrance/ww1-centenary/the-great-centenary-charity-auction.

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