Canadian War Museum acquires Passchendaele Victoria Cross

The mud of Passchendaele. Photo courtesy Canadian War Museum from the George Metcalf Archival Collection.

The Canadian War Museum has purchased another Victoria Cross awarded to a Canadian soldier. The medal was given to Corp. Colin Fraser Barron of the Canadian Expeditionary Force for bravery during the battle of  Passchendaele in 1917 in Belgium. 

Barron was recognized for his successful single-handed attack on a cluster of three enemy machine guns.

“The medal is a testament to one soldier’s courage and a symbol of the service and sacrifice of all Canadian soldiers who fought on the Western Front a century ago,” said Mark O’Neill, president and CEO of the Canadian Museum of History in a media release. “Its acquisition is especially meaningful this year as we commemorate the centenary of Passchendaele, Vimy Ridge and other iconic battles of the First World War.”

The War Museum now holds five of the nine Victoria Crosses awarded to Canadians during the carnage and misery of Passchendaele. Canadian soldiers fought on a blighted moonscape of mud and water-filled craters. During the battle about 16,000 Canadian soldiers were killed or wounded.

Barron was born in Scotland and emigrated to Canada in 1910. He is also a veteran of the Second World War. Barron died in Toronto in 1958. The War Museum purchased his medal set through Spink & Son Ltd., an auction house in London, England. The purchase was made possible with the support of Leslie Barron Kerr, Barron’s great-granddaughter and by the National Collection Fund. This is the 37th Victoria Cross Medal Set acquired by the Canadian War Museum.

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Peter Robb began his connection with the arts community in Ottawa in the mid-1980s when he was the administrator and public relations director of the Great Canadian Theatre Company. After a long career in journalism with the Ottawa Citizen where he served in a number of different posts he returned to the arts when he became the Citizen's arts editor.