A Victory Medal awarded to a young WWI gunner and former Queen’s student will be finding a permanent home in the University Archives thanks to a gift from Dr. Kevin McCormick, a man who is passionate about preserving and commemorating Canadian military history.
Eric Horsey May was a popular and athletic student who played on the Arts’20 championship-winning football and basketball teams. Born and raised in Ottawa, he enlisted in the 72nd (Queen’s) Battery in April 1917 and landed in France in July of the same year. He
was wounded on the battlefield and succumbed to his injuries on August 22, 1918 at the age of 20. After his death, his family started a scholarship in his memory dedicated to enabling top students from Ottawa to study at Queen’s.
When Dr. McCormick came upon the fallen student’s medal, he knew it belonged in the Queen’s Archives and took steps to have it donated. President and Vice-Chancellor at Huntington University in Sudbury, and Honorary Lieutenant Colonel of the Irish Regiment of Canada, Dr. McCormick recently embarked on an 18-month mission to reunite lost military artifacts with family members, or to have them installed in museums and archives.
A project designed to mark the 100th anniversary of the First World War, Dr. McCormick intends to make hundreds of personal donations over the next months. His mission will conclude in July 2014, when he makes his last donation with a ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Ottawa.
"Queen's has very strong connections with the military community, from our students who go on to careers in the military, and our alumni who teach at the Royal Military College, to the collaborative research programs of Queen's and RMC,” says Provost Alan Harrison. “It means a great deal to us to have this medal in our collection and to be able to commemorate a Queen’s student who gave his life for his country.”
Eric Horsey May’s Victory Medal will be added to the collection of the Queen’s University Archives at a public ceremony on Wednesday, May 22 at 10:30am in the John Deutsch University Centre. A photograph of the medal will also be added to Eric Horsey May’s page on the Queen’s Remembers website.