Belmont students, staff reunite family with long-lost war medal

Medal belonged to Sharon Hoover’s great-great uncle

It was an emotional morning at Belmont Secondary school as students and staff reunited a Victoria West family with a long-lost World War One medal.

Tears were shed as library assistant Trudy Court and Grade 10 social studies teacher Chris Allen handed over the newly-restored Victory medal to Sharon Hoover. The medal belonged to George Alexander Doty, who is Hoover’s great-great uncle on her mother’s side.

“It’s a very good feeling. I feel very warm. I feel that he [George] deserves this, being recognized and talked about,” said Hoover, who originally heard about the story on TV, and while it struck a chord with her, she wasn’t quite sure why. “I feel honoured that he’s a part of my family. I feel lucky just to have him as a relative.”

It’s been a long journey for the bronze medal. It was found some years ago by Sooke resident Dan Miller who scraps cars for a living. After being unable to locate the owner, Miller tucked it away safely in his home. It wasn’t until he heard about a Remembrance Day display at the high school in November that he decided to pass it along to Court to try and find its owner.

Since the news broke, dozens of tips about Doty have poured in from across the country, some as far away as Prince Edward Island. Tips were filtered to students in a Grade 10 social studies class who, along with the help of Allen and Court, combed through the information on their lunch hours. They collected service and health records, a death certificate and even Doty’s autopsy report.

RELATED: Belmont High School seeks owner of long-lost medal

From there a picture of the forgotten solider, who served with the 49th Canada Infantry, emerged.

Doty was born in 1897 and had three brothers and a sister. When war broke out, Doty, along with his older brother James, enlisted and were shipped overseas. Doty fought in almost every horrific battle during World War One including Hill 70, Passchendaele, Vimy Ridge and Flanders. But it wasn’t without sacrifice. Doty sustained several injuries, the most significant was when he was shot through the jaw, the bullet entered his right cheek and out the left side of his neck.

He also got necrosis of the skin and as a result of other injuries, lost 19 teeth.

After the war and he was awarded the victory medal, and went to live with his mother in Red Deer, Alberta, before relocating to Penticton. When his mother passed away, Doty moved to Vancouver, where he later died from a heart attack at the age of 51. He is buried in Mountain View Cemetery in Vancouver.

It was a friend who signed his death certificate, leading Court to believe he led a very lonely and isolated life after the war.

Through a series of phone calls, Court managed to get in contact with a woman named Charlene Creaser in Winnipeg, who was Doty’s great-great niece. Court then called Creaser, who gave her information for Hoover.

Court said the initial call was a bit awkward as she grilled Hoover on her family tree. But in the end, Court realized she found the medal’s rightful owner.

“It’s better than we hoped for. He’s always been her family and we were able to bring him to life. He’s not just a number, he’s a man and this is his life,” said Court, who gave Hoover a binder full of information about her family tree as well.

“It made it even more special to give him a voice. We don’t know how he felt about himself, but he’s a hero. Even if we couldn’t make him feel like that alive, we certainly passed it along to his family … I feel like I know him.”

But their work doesn’t end there. After receiving national media attention, Court received another medal from a woman in Gold River, B.C., hoping to reunite it with its rightful owner.

But Court admits that task will be a bit more difficult, given the Natal Native Rebellion medal was from 1906 and was given to allied soldiers who fought beside England and managed to survive 50 days of war. The search will commence in the new year.


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

kendra.wong@goldstreamgazette.com

Just Posted

Raccoons making themselves at home on Saanich property

Resident blames neighbour for attracting pests to area

Peace Walk fundraiser for hospice runs on Sunday

Take a walk, have a snack, and help donate to a local charity

City of Victoria joins national food waste reduction program

The City is partnering in the Love Food, Hate Waste Program

Thousands attend 31st TD Art Gallery Paint-In

Artists display their work along 20 blocks of Moss Street

Details scarce as union confirms probe underway involving Victoria care homes

Island Health, VicPD offer no comment on report of investigation into alleged sexual assaults

BC Games: Day 2 comes to an end

Hundreds of medals have been handed out at the 2018 BC Summer Games in the Cowichan Valley

Haida Gwaii village faces housing crisis, targets short-term rentals

Housing is tight and the village is pretty close to zero vacancy

Evacuation numbers remain at nearly 1,000 as B.C. wildfires rage on

200 firefighters and 18 helicopters were working to increase the containment of the fires

B.C. VIEWS: Unions regain control of public construction

B.C.’s 40-year battle swings back to international big labour

Brush fire breaks out west of Port Alberni

Fire forces partial closure of Highway 4 heading to Ucluelet and Tofino

Accident on Vancouver Island after artillery gun rolls down hill and damages taxi

Witness says accident happend about 1 p.m. Saturday; RCMP investigating

B.C. mining company, involved in 2014 spill, ordered to pay lost wages

Mount Polley Mining Company must pay wages to 26 employees who were laid off without proper notice

Two significant wildfires burning in southeastern B.C.

More than 20 fires were burning in the Southeast Fire Centre as of Saturday afternoon

Volunteers provide the glue that keeps BC Games moving

The 2018 Cowichan Summer Games had more than 2,300 volunteers on hand across Vancouver Island

Most Read