A WWII Memorial Cross Group to a Native Canadian
A WWII Memorial Cross Group to a Native Canadian -1939-1945 Star; France and Germany Star; Defence Medal; War Medal 1939-1945; Canadian Volunteer Service Medal with Overseas Clasp; and GRVI Memorial Cross (H.8778 RFMN. T. CHASKE). Naming is officially engraved on the MC, the others are un-named. Un-mounted, original ribbons, better than extremely fine. Accompanied by the cardboard boxes of issue for the medals, the case of issue for the Cross and the issue envelope for the CVSM clasp, along with copies of his Service Records, Department of National Defence Estates Branch Document (dated May 31, 1945), Court of Inquiry in the Field Report (dated December 15, 1944, along with a sketch of the accident scene), Province of Manitoba Official Registration of Death and assorted research papers.Footnote: Tom Chaske was a Native Canadian, born on March 3, 1922 on the Long Plain Native Reserve in Edwin, Manitoba, the son Tom Chaske and Nyjookwah Chaske. He spoke both Sioux and Cree, as well as English and had been a Farm Labourer, before he was struck off strength of No. 10 National Resources Mobilization Act Clearing Depot on enlistment in the Canadian Army (Active). He enlisted as a Private and was taken on strength at No. 10 District Depot in Winnipeg, Manitoba, "E" Company, Infantry (Canadian Army) on March 18, 1943. Twelve days later, he was posted to "B" Company on the 30th. Chaske was Absent Without Leave on April 14, 1943, less than a month after enlistment but his "absence (was) satisfactorily explained" when he returned on the 12th, claiming he had run off to marry. He was officially documented as having received permission to marry Marjorie Chaske (nee Thomas) of Letellier Native Reserve, Manitoba, on or after April 12, 1943. He was soon transferred to the 103rd Fort Garry Horse on April 15th. He was taken on strength at A15 Canadian Infantry Training Centre, Shilo Camp, Military District No. 10 on June 16, 1943 and one month later, was transferred again, this time as a Rifleman with the Royal Winnipeg Rifles, 7th Infantry Brigade, 3rd Canadian Division, Royal Canadian Infantry Corps, on July 13th. He embarked Halifax, Nova Scotia on August 25, 1943 for service in the European theatre, arriving in the United Kingdom on September 2nd and reporting for duty the next day. He was stationed with the 2nd Canadian Infantry Reinforcement Unit on September 16, 1943, then reactivated to the Royal Winnipeg Rifles on September 24th. Chaske embarked the United Kingdom on June 3, 1944, arriving in France of the 6th, landing in Normandy, as part of the D-Day invasion force. As part of the Royal Winnipeg Rifles, they fought their way north through Putot-en-Bessin, with heavy fighting around Caen, Carpiquet, Falaise and finally the low countries. He was promoted to Acting Lance Corporal on August 7, 1944 but reverted to Rifleman six weeks later at his own request on September 20th. On the morning of December 12, 1944, near Nijmegen, Holland, Rifleman Chaske was assigned to a Pioneer Company, Royal Winnipeg Rifles, under the command of Lieutenant D.C. Mackenzie, sent out to repair a road. Lieutenant Mackenzie ordered ten men into the open compartment of Universal Carrier WD number CZ201179 with a driver (Rifleman E.H. Tricker, a qualified Carrier Driver, Class III), co-driver and himself in the front. The carrier was also towing a 5cwt trailer stacked with picks and shovels. As the carrier made its way across the top of a dyke, the driver lost control and slid down an embankment, turning over, pinning seven soldiers under the overturned vehicle and drowning them. Killed along with H8778 Rifleman T. Chaske was A104565 Rifleman A.H. Burrough, F65759 Rifleman J.E. Duffy, H40814 Rifleman G. Lennox, H42140 Rifleman W.H. Rutland, H41296 Rifleman J. Delipper and L104439 Rifleman E.H. Tricker. A Court of Inquiry was established in the field by order of Lieutenant Colonel L.R. Fulton, DSO, OC Royal Winnipeg Rifles, with Captain J.W. Way serving as Inquiry President, supported by Inquiry members Lieutenant S.H.B. Ketchen and Lieutenant A. Yates, which sought to interview the surviving members and viewed the scene of the accident. In all, four witnesses testified before the Court. In the official Court of Inquiry in the Field Report, documenting the proceedings of December 12, 1944, after hearing the testimony of the four witnesses, the Report of the Court summed up the events of that fateful day: "The carrier was proceeding in a south-easterly direction from the junction at MR 718627 along the road immediately north of the dyke. When it had made a slight bend to the left it tracked to the left side of the road and the left track ran onto the verge. The driver turned the wheel as far as possible to the right, but due to the soft verge was unable to bring the vehicle back on the road. The carrier proceeded to a point where the verge was only one foot wide and there was practically a vertical drop of two and a half feet into the ditch. The left side dropped so rapidly that the carrier overturned into the ditch which contained between three and six feet of water. From the time the carrier first entered the verge until it overturned, the officer and five ORs managed to jump clear. The remaining seven men were pinned beneath the overturned carrier below the surface of the water." It went on to state that the "The speed of the carrier was less than 15 miles per hour and it was practically at a standstill at the point which it overturned. It travelled 74 feet from the time it touched the verge until it overturned. The road was 10 feet wide and the verge varied from 4 feet when the carrier first touched it to one foot where the carrier overturned." and that the "Visibility was good and traffic was very light. The road is a gravelled mud road with good hard surface. The road verge was very soft." It concluded that "The officer, one man and the driver were in the front of the carrier. Five men were in each rear compartment. Due to the cramped positions of the men it was difficult for them to jump clear." It was finally determined that Lieutenant D.C. Mackenzie had erred, in that "12 men (with full winter kit and towing a trailer) was being an excessive load for a Universal carrier. This excessive weight no doubt effected the steering of the vehicle which caused the accident. Therefore I direct that he be held responsible and admonished.", and signed by the three Court personnel. The Inquiry results were concurred with by Brigadier J.G. Spragge, 7th Canadian Infantry Brigade. It was also noted that the four men that were killed "were on duty at the time of the accident and were not guilty of improper conduct." However, when reviewed by Major General D.C. Spry, GOC, 3rd Canadian Infantry Division, he stated he "did not consider that the deaths of the soldiers was caused by the fact that the carrier was overloaded." Lieutenant Mackenzie was therefore absolved of responsibility for the deaths of the soldiers. Chaske died on December 12, 1944, at the age of 22 and is buried in Groesbeek Canadian War Cemetery, ten km south east of Nijmegen, Grave Reference: I.H.6. His Province of Manitoba Official Registration of Death listed the cause of death as "Drowning" due to a "Military vehicle in which he was riding overturned in a water-filled ditch." He is credited with having served in Canada, the United Kingdom and Continental Europe, his widow receiving his 1939-1945 Star, France and Germany Star, Defence Medal, War Medal 1939-1945, Canadian Volunteer Service Medal with Overseas Clasp and GRVI Memorial Cross. He had $150.00 in Victory Loan Bonds, which were sold off by his widow, Marjorie.