In honour of those who served in the cause of Freedom in the 20th century, this week we are launching a series of short stories about some interesting pieces from the Military Collections. The medals featured in this photograph belonged to E. Percy Babbit, Gagetown, who served in World War I.
Edmund Percy Babbit was born 2 December 1888, the son of Robert Thorn Babbit (1831-1901) and his second wife, Jennie Belyea (1852-1933) of Gagetown. Descended from the Loyalist Babbit Family, Edmund Percy, or simply Percy, grew up in the village with his three sisters (another sister lived for only a few days in 1885), attending the local grammar school and participating in the usual round of children’s and youth activities. His five half-siblings, children of his father’s first marriage, were grown and married by the time the second family arrived in the 1880s. One half-sister of particular note was Annie Blanche (1863-1934), who married George Hedley Vicars Bulyea (1859-1928), her step-mother’s brother, who later became the 1st Lt-Gov. of Alberta in 1905.
Percy Babbit joined the war effort, the Canadian Overseas Expeditionary Force, 24 September 1914 and at that time listed his occupation as a steam engineer, marital status as unmarried, and shorted his birth year by two years to 1890. His father had been dead for many years, so his next of kin was his mother, Mrs. R.T. Babbit. A slight man, Percy stood at 5 ft. 7 and three quarter inches tall, with a 35 inch waist. His complexion is noted as medium, eyes hazel, and hair brown. The full attestation for service was signed off 4 December 1914. On the attestation, Percy signed his name as Babbitt with two t’s.
Percy’s sister, Ella Pearl (1882-1975) also joined the war effort as a Nursing Sister, 13 April 1915. She is noted as being 5 ft. 5 inches tall, dark complexion, brown eyes and brown hair; under distintive marks it was noted she had hammer toes on each foot! In May 1917, she married Dr. Arthur Brittain Walter (1889-1977), of Cambridge.
Fortunately, Percy returned to Gagetown following the the war and married Florence Evelyn Brooks (1900-1967), both living at Gagetown until their deaths in the 1960s.
The Babbit family generously donated Percy’s uniform and medals to the Queens County Museum in 1967. The medals featured here were issued following the end of the war in November 1918. From left to right, the medals are:
Military Medal: The medal is awarded to Warrant Officers, non-commissioned officers and men for individual or associated acts of bravery on the recommendation of a Commander-in-Chief in the field. Research is ongoing to determine the particular act of bravery Percy did to achieve this honour.
1914-1915 Star: This medal was awarded to all who saw service an any theatre of war against the central powers between 05 August 1914 and 31 December 1915 except those eligible for the 1914 Star. This medal is always issued with the British War Medal and the Victory Medal.
British War Medal: The medal was awarded to all ranks of Canadian overseas military forces who came from Canada between 05 August 1914 and 11 November 1918, or who had served in a theatre of war. It was possible to receive this medal alone but all gallantry medals would receive the BWM and VM as well.
Victory Medal: The medal was awarded to all ranks of the fighting forces, to civilians under contract, and others employed with military hospitals who actually served on the establishment of a unit in a theatre of war between 05 August 1914 and 11 November 1918 (inclusive). This medal was never issued alone and was always issued with the British War Medal.
For more information about Percy Babbit, his sister Pearl, or other Queens County veterans, please contact Queens County Heritage at firstname.lastname@example.org.