Hope to bring medal home

Lesley Barron Kerr doesn't remember the last time she saw the Victoria Cross that her great-grandfather, Colin Barron, received for heroism at the Battle of Passchendaele. But she's hoping to hold it again soon.

It has been 30 years since Kerr's father sold the military medal — the British Empire's highest award for bravery and courage on the battlefield — for $25,000 to help support himself and his only daughter.

"My grandmother may have been alive at the time when she gave it to him," Kerr says. "And then because my father was a single father raising me, he had to sell it to pay the mortgage to pay the house."

Kerr, who runs a large karate-school business in Toronto, still has the citation and box given to her great-grandfather nearly a century ago. Since her father died in 2005, she has been trying to find the medal as well.

Now it has resurfaced, and Kerr is hoping to bring it back into the family. But it won't be easy.

Barron's Victoria Cross will go up for auction next month — with the bidding expected to start around $250,000.

Barron was one of nine Canadians to receive a Victoria Cross for his actions at Passchendaele, which has gone down in history as one of the bloodiest and most controversial battles of the First World War.

On Nov. 6, 1917, the 24-year-old, who was born in Scotland but moved to Canada in 1910, managed to sneak behind the German lines and take out several machine-guns that had been holding up the Canadian attack.

The citation for Barron's Victoria Cross would later credit his actions with having "produced far-reaching results, and enabled the advance to be continued."

He died at Sunnybrook Hospital in Toronto in 1958.

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