Okanagan couple hopes to return lost Memorial Cross to veteran’s family

Vernon resident Heather Neill found this Memorial Cross medal in a discarded jewelry box near her home years ago. (Brendan Shykora - Morning Star)Vernon resident Heather Neill found this Memorial Cross medal in a discarded jewelry box near her home years ago. (Brendan Shykora - Morning Star)
Neill found the jewelry box behind the Petro-Canada station on the corner of 43rd Street and 25th Avenue in Vernon. (Brendan Shykora - Morning Star)Neill found the jewelry box behind the Petro-Canada station on the corner of 43rd Street and 25th Avenue in Vernon. (Brendan Shykora - Morning Star)
Also in the jewelry box was a British Empire Service League Canadian Legion pin. (Brendan Shykora - Morning Star)Also in the jewelry box was a British Empire Service League Canadian Legion pin. (Brendan Shykora - Morning Star)
A photo of Clifford Marvin Bingham, submitted for the project Operation Picture Me. (Veterans Affairs Canada)A photo of Clifford Marvin Bingham, submitted for the project Operation Picture Me. (Veterans Affairs Canada)

A Vernon couple is hoping to connect with the family of a Second World War veteran after finding his Memorial Cross medal in a discarded jewelry box.

Heather and Brian Neill didn’t quite know what they had stumbled upon when they found a jewelry box behind the Petro-Canada gas station on the corner of 43rd Street and 25th Avenue in Vernon some years ago. The wooden box was tipped on its side and contained only a few items, most of which appeared to be broken.

“Nothing really looked very valuable,” said Heather. “But we brought it home anyway and then we took it to the RCMP, and they said we’d be better off trying to find an owner ourselves.”

“Automatically we thought it had probably been stolen in a break-in or something like that, and whatever was most valuable in it was taken,” said Brian.

As it turned out, there was one valuable the alleged thief hadn’t noticed, and which the Neills themselves didn’t notice until years later.

One day Heather was looking through the box when a coin-sized metal cross caught her attention.

“I just noticed one day that it was not just a trinket,” she explained. “The cross looked like it meant something to somebody.”

READ MORE: Armstrong war veterans remember fighting for ‘best country in the world’

She then noticed what was engraved on the flip side of the medal:

F.O.

C.M. Bingham

J22033

After doing some research and getting in touch with Veterans Affairs Canada, Heather learned that she’d found a Memorial Cross bestowed to the family of Flying Officer Clifford Marvin Bingham upon his death in 1943.

Bingham – son of Lieut. Col. William John Bingham of Winnipeg – had served in the Royal Canadian Air Force in the Second World War. He was 22 years old when he died.

Bingham was commemorated at the Runnymede Memorial in Surrey, U.K. His name is inscribed on the Bomber Command Memorial Wall in Nanton, Alta.

The Memorial Cross medal – also known as the Silver Cross – is typically threaded with a purple ribbon. It is granted to the mother (if living) or the widow of a Canadian Forces member who died as a result of his or her service.

In an email to the Neills, Veterans Affairs said they could not to get in touch with the family the medal belongs to, since privacy legislation prevents the department from doing so.

The Neills made several attempts to find the owner of the jewelry box around the time they found it, to no avail. But having learned about the Memorial Cross, they’re hoping they’ll have better luck this time around.

“I can imagine it must mean a great deal to somebody,” said Heather.

Anyone with information regarding the medal’s proper owners is invited to get in touch with the Neills by emailing heatherbeverly@icloud.com.

READ MORE: Bulldog returned safe to Vernon owner


Brendan Shykora
Reporter, Vernon Morning Star
Email me at Brendan.Shykora@vernonmorningstar.com
Follow us: Facebook | Twitter

Veterans

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Seniors in the Interior Health region can book their COVID-19 vaccinations starting Monday, March 8, 2021 at 7 a.m. (File photo)
Seniors in Interior Heath region can book COVID-19 shots starting Monday

Starting March 8 the vaccination call centre will be open 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily

The Conservation Officers Service is warning aquarium users after invasive and potentially destructive mussels were found in moss balls from a pet store. (BC Conservation Officers Service/Facebook)
Aquarium users in B.C. warned after invasive mussels found at pet store

Conservation officers were told the mussels were found in a moss ball from a Terrace pet store.

A member of the Vernon Search and Rescue winch helicopter team pulls a skier who broke her leg at the gorge backcountry area east of Sicamous into the helicopter on Friday March 5. (Shuswap Search and Rescue/Facebook)
Search and rescue helicopter helps injured skier out of Shuswap backcountry

The Salmon Arm woman broke her leg, but was helped out of the bush thanks to radio communication.

SASCU is looking to celebrate its 75th anniversary with a legacy project, in the same way the Shuswap credit union marked its 60th by commissioning the apple sculpture at its downtown location. That artwork includes 14 apples honouring SASCU’s founding families. (Lachlan Labere-Salmon Arm Observer)
Shuswap credit union to mark 75th anniversary with legacy project

SASCU will be looking for input from arts community, city

Interior Health reported 33 new COVID-19 cases on March 5. (Black Press Files)
Interior Health reports 33 new COVID-19 cases on March 5

Over 300,000 vaccine doses have been administered provincewide.

The James C Richardson Pipe Band marches in a Remembrance Day parade on Nov. 11, 2019 in Chilliwack. Wednesday, March 10 is International Bagpipe Day. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress file)
Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of March 7 to 13

International Bagpipe Day, Wash Your Nose Day and Kidney Day are all coming up this week

Multiple people were injured at a Vernon home following an early-morning break-in Saturday, March 6, 2021. (Black Press file photo)
Multiple people left injured following break-and-enter in Vernon

Police believe the early-morning break-in was targeted and not a threat to the general public

Kelowna General Hospital (File photo)
Second COVID-19 outbreak declared at Kelowna General Hospital

One patient and one staff member on Unit have tested positive for the virus.

Victoria man Brett Andersen is asking for people’s help to secure him one of eight free tickets to the moon. (Screenshot/@brettandersen Instagram)
Victoria man wants your help securing a free ticket to the moon

Japanese billionaire offering eight people a trip to the moon

A Coldstream resident who found an owl struggling on her property in March 2021 is now spreading awareness of about the knock-on effects of rodent poisoning. (Kathy Renaud photo)
Okanagan owl ‘fighting for her life’ after ingesting rat poison

Coldstream resident warns against the use of rodenticide due to risk of secondary poisoning in raptors

Hockey hall-of-fame legend Wayne Gretzky, right, watches the casket of his father, Walter Gretzky, as it is carried from the church during a funeral service in Brantford, Ont., Saturday, March 6, 2021. HE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Walter Gretzky remembered as a man with a ‘heart of gold’ at funeral

The famous hockey father died Thursday at age 82 after battling Parkinson’s disease

Fire ripped through a mobile home on Boucherie Road in West Kelowna on March. 6. (Phil McLachlan - West Kelowna News)
‘My whole life just went up in smoke’; Fire consumes Okanagan mobile home

RCMP confirmed that there were no injuries due to the fire

Donald Alan Sweet was once an all star CFL kicker who played for the Montreal Alouettes and Montreal Concordes over a 13-year career. Photo courtesy of Mission RCMP.
Ex-B.C. teacher who was CFL kicker charged with assault, sexual crimes against former students

Donald Sweet taught in Mission School District for 10 years, investigators seek further witnesses

Most Read