On Duty Throughout

Great War, 1920, Military Cross, Gallantry, Ieper, Ypres

The 1920 Military Cross, presentation photograph and document presented to Ypres on exhibit at the In Flanders Fields Museum, Ieper (Ypres), Belgium.
(P. Ferguson image, November 2018)

Carved into the Lessons from History

On 14 April 2020 the Daily Express presented the suggestion, made by Mr. Terence McIlroy, that in recognition of the bravery of the British National Health Service (NHS), during the Covid-19 pandemic, that the organization could be presented with the honorific award of the George Medal. Although the article states that the George Medal is the highest award for civilian gallantry the George Cross is the Medal’s senior. Regardless, the thought is well-intentioned and will, perhaps, receive some consideration in British circles that govern such honours.

Mr. McIlroy’s article provides precedence for such an award noting that the Mediterranean island of Malta received the George Cross in 1942 and so too the Royal Ulster Constabulary in 1999. Both awards recognized the gallantry of its citizens and personnel in times of great adversity.

Additionally, British combat awards have been made to three cities of the Great War. Both Verdun (France) and Ypres (Belgium) were awarded the Military Cross. Verdun received the award in 1916 and the city of Ypres was so honoured in 1920. Five years later Ypres added the Military Cross and the Great War award of the French Croix de Guerre into their city’s coat of arms.

A third combat award, the Distinguished Service Cross, was granted to Dunkirk, France in recognition of its citizen’s gallantry during the Great War. Awarded in 1919 the award is also included in the present-day coat of arms of the city that further includes the French Medal of Honour and two Croix de Guerres, the latter two presented for gallantry during both the First and Second World Wars.

The care-providers of the National Health Service have shown tremendous determination, resolve, and resilience. By doing what they do and through their compassion and empathy they have carved into the lessons from history, an enduring pride for future generations. This is so true of all earth’s care givers, in all countries, going above and beyond…as doctors, nurses, technicians, cleaners, providers…and at times as surrogate family…Who has not shed a tear amidst all their stories?…They will continue to stand together…they are on duty throughout.

As of 13 April 2020, testing of 16,888 British National Health Service staff has diagnosed 5,733 Covid-19 test positive results. At least 35 of their brothers and sisters have died in the fight against this contagion.

About The Author

Paul has worked with the Paradigm Motion Picture Company since 2009 as producer, historian and research specialist. Paul first met Casey and Ian WIlliams of Paradigm in April 2007 at Ieper (Ypres), Belgium when ceremonies were being held for the re-dedication of the Vimy Memorial, France. Paul's sensitivity to film was developed at an early age seeing his first films at RCAF Zweibrucken, Germany and in Sardinia. Paul returned to Canada in 1967 and was further amazed by David Lean's "Lawrence of Arabia" and "Bridge on the River Kwai". Film captivated Paul and with time he became increasingly interested in storytelling, content development, character, direction, cinematography and soundtracks. At the University of Victoria, Paul studied and compared Japanese and Australian film and became interested in Australian film maker Peter Weir and his film "Gallipoli" (1981). Paul was entranced when he learned Weir had visited the beaches, ridges and ravines of the peninsula. The film "Gallipoli" alone led Paul on many journeys to sites of conflict in England, France, Belgium, Holland, Germany, Malta, Hawaii and Gallipoli. It was, however, when Paul watched documentary filmmaker Ken Burns, "The Civil War", that Paul understood how his own experience and insight could be effective and perhaps influential in film-making. Combining his knowledge of Museums and Archives, exhibitions and idea strategies with his film interests would be a natural progression. Paul thinks like a film-maker. His passion for history and storytelling brings to Paradigm an eye (and ear) to the keen and sensitive interests of; content development, the understanding of successful and relational use of collections, imagery and voice. Like Paul's favorite actor, Peter O'Toole, he believes in the adage “To deepen not broaden.” While on this path Paul always remembers his grandmother whose father did not return from the Great War and how his loss shaped her life and how her experience continues to guide him.


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