Bart Armstrong with his display at the Royal B.C. Museum honouring veterans. Armstrong has been researching Canadian recipients of the American Medal of Honor uncovering the stories of some 50 Canadian men who were not previously recognized.

Bart Armstrong with his display at the Royal B.C. Museum honouring veterans. Armstrong has been researching Canadian recipients of the American Medal of Honor uncovering the stories of some 50 Canadian men who were not previously recognized.

Military historian uncovers Canadian recipients of U.S. Medal of Honor

Saanich resident instrumental in uncovering stories of 50 Canadians awarded highest honour in the U.S. military.

They might not have been Canada’s fights but some of the Canadians who chose to take up arms became some of the most distinguished soldiers on the battlefield.

Of the 10,312 soldiers buried in the U.S. Civil War cemetery at Marietta, Georgia, only two received the highest American award for bravery in the face of the enemy. One of the men to receive the Medal of Honor was Denis Buckley, a Canadian.

Buried under the wrong name for 140 years, Buckley is one of 104 known Canadians who have earned the medal. Bart Armstrong, a Saanich resident and the only Canadian member of the Medal of Honor Historical Society, was instrumental in uncovering Buckley’s story and that of some 50 other Canadians who were awarded the highest honour in the U.S. military.

For the second year in a row, the 62-year-old Armstrong is hosting an information booth at the Royal B.C. Museum to educate visitors on the Canadian recipients of the medal.

“About 95 per cent of the time, the people who I’m talking to don’t have a clue what I’m talking about,” said Armstrong, who served 17 years in the Canadian Forces and retired as a Master Warrant Officer.

“In the United States, unfortunately, they don’t go out of their way to say ‘Hey, there are a lot of other countries who have helped us as well.’”

The trend of Canadians fighting for the U.S. dates back to the 1860s – prior to Canada’s official confederation – when American men from along the eastern seaboard often relocated to Canada during the war. When their children grew up, some would go back across the border to fight for the U.S.

“In lots of the regiments where our guys were, they earned the only medal in that regiment. It’s kinda neat to say that a Canadian did that.”

Armstrong, also the past president of the Victoria Genealogical Society, has findings from his research stacked up around his Saanich home – referred to as the satellite office by his American colleagues in the Medal of Honor Historical Society. For 11 years he has uncovered photos, records and family histories of otherwise unrecognized Canadian war heroes. Among them is Douglas Munro, the only member of the U.S. Coast Guard to ever be awarded the Medal of Honor.

Armstrong has been recognized by the Canadian government for his work, which he hopes to one day publish. Until then, he continues to honour Canadian Medal of Honor recipients with memorial ceremonies, while educating all those interested on both sides of the border. While sharing their history can make some American’s “edgy,” Armstrong said, most are open to learning more about people from other nation’s who played significant roles.

“The purpose of the conversation isn’t to insult (American forces), actually, it’s complimenting (them), by showing how much (they’re) willing to open (their) arms to others.”

Armstrong’s booth is on display at the Royal B.C. Museum from Nov. 7-11 and will be open to the public free of charge.

Canadian leaves legacy in American Coast Guard

Douglas Munro was born to American parents in Vancouver before his father’s railway work saw the family relocated to Washington State. Munro lived most of his life in the United States where he joined the U.S. Coast Guard and became a signalman. During the Guadalcanal Campaign of the Second World War, Munro led a detachment of boats in transporting 500 marines ashore. Soon after Munro landed the marines, the troops were driven back into the ocean.

Under his direction, the coast guard vessels successfully evacuated the men – until the last boat of marines was caught in a drift. Munro lodged his own boat between the marines and enemy lines. He was killed in the crossfire and posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor.

nnorth@saanichnews.com

Just Posted

Law Enforcement Torch Run in support of Special Olympics B.C. kicks off with a run at Swan Lake on June 6. The virtual fundraiser runs until June 20. (Saanich Police/Twitter)
Torch run seeks to scorch previous fundraiser, targets $75,000 for Special Olympics

Global movement shoots for 40,000 km in honour of the 40th anniversary

Tyson Muzzillo, regional manager of BC Cannabis Store, welcomes shoppers to their Uptown location, opening on June 16. (Megan Atkins-Baker/News Staff)
Government-run cannabis store opening at Saanich’s Uptown

BC Cannabis Store the first for government in Greater Victoria, 27th in province

West Shore RCMP K9 Halla. (Black Press Media file photo)
Sound of RCMP dog enough to stop suspects in Oak Bay

West Shore RCMP K9 unit called in, didn’t get to chase

A patio built by The Village is shared by three eateries in Estevan. (Christine van Reeuwyk/News Staff)
Oak Bay eateries sharing communal patio space in Estevan Village

The Village invested $25,000 in streetside patio, hopes to make it permanent

Improving safety at Keating Cross Road and the Pat Bay Highway is the goal of the flyover project currently in the works. The province aims to reveal the final cost and design this fall. (Screencap/Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure)
Final budget, design of Keating flyover in Central Saanich still in the works

Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure says information coming by this fall

People watch a car burn during a riot following game 7 of the NHL Stanley Cup final in downtown Vancouver, B.C., in this June 15, 2011 photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Geoff Howe
10 years ago: Where were you during the 2011 Vancouver Stanley Cup Riots?

Smashed-in storefronts, looting, garbage can fires and overturned cars some of the damage remembered today

(Black Press Media file)
Dirty money: Canadian currency the most germ-filled in the world, survey suggests

Canadian plastic currency was found to contain 209 bacterial cultures

(pixabay file shot)
B.C. ombudsperson labels youth confinement in jail ‘unsafe,’ calls for changes

Review states a maximum of 22 hours for youth, aged 12 from to 17, to be placed in solitary

Eleonore Alamillo-Laberge, 6, reads a book in Ottawa on Monday, June 12, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Parents will need to fight ‘COVID learning slump’ over summer: B.C. literacy experts

Parents who play an active role in educating their children this summer can reverse the slump by nearly 80%, says Janet Mort

The border crossing on Highway 11 in Abbotsford heading south (file)
Western premiers call for clarity, timelines on international travel, reopening rules

Trudeau has called Thursday meeting, premiers say they expect to leave that meeting with a plan

The B.C. government’s vaccine booking website is busy processing second-dose appointments, with more than 76 per cent of adults having received a first dose. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C.’s COVID-19 infections, hospitalizations stable for Tuesday

108 new confirmed cases, 139 in hospital, 39 in intensive care

Cowichan Tribes man Adrian Sylvester is worried that he was targetted by a trailer hitch thrown from a vehicle. (Facebook photo)
Cowichan Tribes man worried he was target of trailer hitch

Adrian Sylvester says no one has reported a missing hitch after one nearly hit him

Graeme Roberts, who was mayor of Nanaimo from 1984-86, died this month at age 89. (Photo courtesy Nanaimo Community Archives)
City of Nanaimo flags at half-mast as former mayor Graeme Roberts dies at 89

‘Giant-killer’ beat out Frank Ney in mayoral election in 1984

Ivy was thrown out of a moving vehicle in Kelowna. Her tail was severely injured and will be amputated. (BC SPCA)
Kitten thrown from moving vehicle, needs help: Kelowna SPCA

The seven-week-old kitten had severe tail and femur injuries

Most Read