Pin commemorating fallen WW I soldier donated to The Rooms

·3 min read

A special pin commemorating a fallen soldier of the Royal Newfoundland Regiment has made its way across the Atlantic Ocean, and will soon be on display at the provincial museum for all to see.

Luis Revaliente of Willingham, England, bought the poppy in 2016 as part of a fundraiser for the Royal British Legion that marked the 100th anniversary of the Battle of the Somme in the First World War.

On that first day of battle, about 20,000 British troops lost their lives. More than 300 soldiers of the Newfoundland Regiment were killed, or missing and presumed dead at Beaumont-Hamel.

Submitted by Michael Jackman
Submitted by Michael Jackman

The pins were made from melted-down brass shell fuses that were collected from the battlefields in France. Dirt collected from the fields was mixed with enamel to make the red centres.

Each pin that was made represents the life of a soldier lost on July 1, 1916.

Of the 19,240 pins that were made, Revaliente received one commemorating the life of Pte. Michael Jackman of Bell Island.

Last fall, Revaliente asked CBC News for help in locating a living relative of the soldier's family.

CBC News found the soldier's nephew — and namesake — Michael Jackman.

Jackman received the pin in the mail in December, and had planned to display it at the Royal Canadian Legion in Portugal Cove.

Darryl Murphy/CBC
Darryl Murphy/CBC

But last week, he decided it belonged at The Rooms.

He made the donation at a special ceremony on Tuesday.

"We are honoured, on behalf of the Royal Canadian Legion and myself, to donate this souvenir to The Rooms … in memory of the gallant men and women who gave their lives in World War One and Two, and still continue [to serve]," Jackman said during the ceremony.

He said he feels proud for the pin to be put on display.

"It's found a permanent resting place. And this is probably the best place for it," he said.

'The perfect place'

Maureen Peters, the acting curator of history at The Rooms, said she learned about the donation when Jackman called her last week.

"As soon as I saw what it was … I knew there was a perfect place in this exhibition for it to go on display," she said.

Toward the final part of the exhibit, titled Beaumont-Hamel and the Trail of the Caribou, there's a commemorative hallway, for people to leave memories and messages.

Darryl Murphy/CBC
Darryl Murphy/CBC

"At the end, we have a family treasures case, and that's where we are putting items as they come up and get donated to us that are important to individual families and stuff that people held on to," Peters said.

The case displays items like sweetheart pins from the First World War, and a brooch that family members had kept from that period.

"We thought this [pin] would be a perfect artifact to go into the family treasures case."

The poppy was mounted and officially put on display Wednesday afternoon.

If others are interested in donating items from the First or Second world wars, Peters said The Rooms is collecting items on an ongoing basis.

Darryl Murphy/CBC
Darryl Murphy/CBC

Peters said she's looking ahead to the commemoration of the Second World War, and any other events of military history, and the history of Newfoundland and Labrador that may be of future interest to the museum.

"If anybody has any items, any stories they want to bring in to us or talk to me about it, relating to the First or Second World War … we're here to to listen, to potentially [take] donations, and to build that database and that information so that … eventually, when we commemorate the Second World War, we will have those collections there," she said.

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