Memorial Cross

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Memorial Cross
Memorial Cross, Canada. King George V version.jpg
Memorial Cross: George V version with ribbon
Awarded forNext of kin of a member of Canadian Forces who died on war service, or in the course of normal duty
Presented by
StatusCurrently awarded
Established1 December 1919
Memorial Cross (Ribbon).gif
The ribbon of the Memorial Cross

The Memorial Cross (French: Croix du Souvenir), often known as the Silver Cross for Mothers, is a Canadian medal awarded to the mother, widow, widower, or next of kin of any member of the Canadian Forces who loses their life on active service, including peacekeeping, other such international operations and, since 2001, other service related deaths.[1][2]


The Memorial Cross is in the form of a sterling silver Greek cross, 32 mm across, with arms slightly flared at the ends.[1] At the top of the vertical arm is a St. Edward's Crown, symbolising the Canadian monarch's role as the fount of honour,[3] with a maple leaf at the end of the other arms. At the centre, within a laurel wreath, is the reigning monarch's Royal Cypher.[1] The reverse is plain, with most crosses engraved with the rank, service number, initials and surname of the person commemorated.[4]

The cross was originally worn around the neck from an 11 mm wide light purple ribbon attached to the cross by a silver ring. Since January 1945 awards have been presented with a straight silver brooch bar in place of the purple ribbon, to be worn on the left breast, above any other medals the recipient may have.[1]

Design variations[edit]

There are four versions of the cross:[4]

Early World War II awards bore the 'GRI' cypher used in World War I. Approximately 4,700 of this type were bestowed between 1940 and March 1942, when the 'GVIR' type were issued.[5]

Eligibility and receipt[edit]

The idea of introducing the Silver Cross for mothers whose sons died in World War I belongs to the Canadian fiction author William Alexander Fraser.[6] He made this offer to Prime Minister Robert Borden.[7]

On 1 December 1919, King George V, on the advice of his Cabinet under Prime Minister Robert Borden, created the Memorial Cross as a memento of personal loss and sacrifice on the part of widows and mothers of Canadian sailors, soldiers, and airmen who had died for the country during the First World War.[1] This included widows and mothers of those whose post-war death was related to their war service.[8]

The award was re-established in August 1940 to cover the Second World War. Eligibility was originally on the same basis as before, but was later extended to cover merchant seamen and fire fighters. Newfoundland service personnel became eligible in April 1949,[4] when Newfoundland joined the Canadian Confederation.[9]

In 1950 the cross was again introduced, to recognise the Korean War, awards continuing for all other conflicts where Canada was involved.[4] The medal was granted to a widower for the first time on 19 May 2006, when it went to Jason Beam, husband of Nichola Goddard who was killed in Afghanistan.[10] In January 2007 the criteria for awarding the Memorial Cross were altered, retroactive to 6 October 2001, so that all service related deaths were to be recognised, not simply those occurring during overseas missions.

The regulations were again changed in January 2009, also retroactive to 6 October 2001, to allow for the award of up to three crosses to a service member's family, up from two.[11]

The Silver Cross Mother is still chosen annually from the ranks of mothers who have received the medal.[12]

The New Zealand Memorial Cross, established in 1947, and the Elizabeth Cross, established in 2009, are awarded on a similar basis as the Canadian cross and have a broadly similar design.[13]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e Veterans Affairs Canada. "Remembrance > Medals and Decorations > National Honours > Memorial Cross". Queen's Printer for Canada. Retrieved 8 January 2020.
  2. ^ Robertson, Megan C. "Canada > Orders, Decorations and Medals of Canada > Memorial Cross". Medals of the World. Retrieved 6 January 2008.
  3. ^ Royal Canadian Mounted Police. "Honours and Recognition Programs > Canadian National Honours". Queen's Printer for Canada. Archived from the original on 23 March 2009. Retrieved 20 May 2009.
  4. ^ a b c d John W. Mussell, editor. Medal Yearbook 2015. p. 192 Published Token Publishing Limited, Honiton, Devon. 2015. {{cite book}}: |author= has generic name (help)
  5. ^ Richard A. Flory. Canadian Memorial Crosses (GV) issued to the mother and wife of a former Royal Field Artillery officer who died in 1940. Orders and Medals Research Society Journal, March 2021, Vol 60 No 1. Page 52.
  6. ^ David Skene-Melvin. Crime where the Nights are Long: Canadian Stories of Crime, Adventure, and Terror from the Golden Age of Storytelling - 1998 : / р. 12 ISBN 9781554885121
  7. ^ Suzanne Evans. Mothers of Heroes, Mothers of Martyrs: World War I and the Politics of Grief - 2007 : / р. 102
  8. ^ George Bell with Lady Luck through the First World War: the late awarded of a Canadian Memorial Cross, David Howarth. Orders & Medals Research Society Journal (Volume 58, number 4) December 2019. p 263.
  9. ^ "Newfoundland joins Canada (1946-49)". Archived from the original on July 20, 2008. Retrieved December 3, 2010.
  10. ^ "Capt. Goddard's widower to get Memorial Cross". CBC. 19 May 2006. Retrieved 8 January 2020.
  11. ^ Department of National Defence (15 January 2009). "News Room > More Canadian Forces Families Recognized For Their Loss". Queen's Printer for Canada. Archived from the original on 4 May 2010. Retrieved 7 September 2010.
  12. ^ Veterans Affairs Canada (20 February 2019). "National Memorial (Silver) Cross Mothers". Queen's Printer for Canada. Retrieved 11 January 2020.
  13. ^ John W. Mussell, editor. Medal Yearbook 2015. p. 192,195 Published Token Publishing Limited, Honiton, Devon. 2015. {{cite book}}: |author= has generic name (help)