First World War vet's medal finally returns home
Last updated 12/15/2012 at 4:35pm
KAHNAWAKE, QUE—A medal awarded to a wounded soldier in the First World War is returned to his family almost a hundred years later.
Private James Beauvais was wounded in France in 1919 and was awarded the Victory Medal which is given to all British and Canadian soldiers during that war. He returned to his home in Kahnawake ill and traumatized.
According to the Canadian Press, Beauvais’ life after the war was filled with tragedy. He returned home with shrapnel in his chest and he had limited use of his left arm. Suffering from chronic pain and in emotional anguish that in those days was known as “shell shock”. If living today, he would be diagnosed as having “post traumatic stress disorder” or PTSD.
Beauvais abandoned his wife and daughter and traveled West. His wife became destitute.Ten years later he was dead and buried in Winnipeg, more than 1,242 miles (2000 kilometers) from home.
Recently, the medal made the return trip home to Quebec after being found for sale on eBay. According to the newspaper, Beauvais’ medal was listed “WW1 Victory Medal to Native Canadian, Pte. James Beauvais”.
“When I saw this medal on eBay, I also saw a missing link in Kahnawake, and I also saw the name Beavais,” said Normand Carrieres, a part-Wendat, who routinely checks online auction sites for bike parts, medals and military memorabilia.
“My first thought was to keep this medal in Canada,” Carrieres told the CP. “Second, find his family. And if I didn’t find anybody interested by the medal or in Beauvais himself, my intention was to bury the medal somewhere in the cemetery in order to keep his spirit among his nearest ones.”
Lynn Beauvais cried when the medal was returned to her family. She remembered her grandmother, Margaret Beauvais Jacques, telling about James’ post-war injuries and the trauma he endured.
“He was in so much pain,” said Lynn, whose grandmother was James’ sister. “He used to pace, she said. He used to always walk up and down because he was in pain.”
According to the CP, Lynn Beauvais and her sisters have been piecing together James’ sad story for the last couple of years.
The family would like to bring his remains back to his home in Kahnawake. But if that is too expensive, Lynn says she wants to “travel to Winnipeg with soil from the community.”