THE GOLD VIMY PILGRIMAGE MEDAL, 1936
Cf: Sotheby's, The Jewels of the Duchess of Windsor, Geneva, Friday 3rd April 1987, Lot 181.
Cf: Joseph S. Giordano, Portraits of A Prince; Coins, Medals, and Banknotes of Edward VIII, London, 2009, page 336.
Cf: A King's Story, The Memoirs of H.R.H. The Duke of Windsor, K.G., London 1953, page 282.
The Battle of Vimy Ridge took place from 9th April to 12th April 1917 near Arras in the Nord-Pas-de-Calais region of France during the First World War. It was the first occasion whereupon all four divisions of the Canadian Expeditionary Force participated in a battle as a cohesive formation. The corps suffered 10,602 casualties: 3,598 killed and 7,004 wounded. The Battle of Vimy thus became a Canadian nationalistic symbol of achievement and sacrifice.
King Edward VIII unveiled the Canadian National Vimy Memorial on 26th July 1936, in his memoirs he states 'The Canadian Government had acquired from the French nation Vimy Ridge; there they had erected a noble monument in memory of the Canadians who lie buried in France..... I had been invited to inaugurate the monument in the presence of 6,000 Canadian veterans who had made a pilgrimage across the Atlantic for the ceremony'. This took place in the presence of French President Albert Lebrun, 50,000 or more Canadian and French veterans, and their families. In his speech, the King said: 'By a gesture which all understand, the soldiers especially, the laws of France have decreed that here Canada shall stand for ever. We raise this memorial to Canadian warriors. It is the inspired impression in stone, chiselled by a skilled Canadian hand, of Canada's salute to her fallen sons.' William Lyon Mackenzie King, the Prime Minister of Canada, transmitted a message to the crowd by Transatlantic telephone.
The dedication of the Canadian War Memorial at Vimy took place almost exactly midway through the brief reign of Edward VIII and was one of the most visible appearances he made as the British Sovereign. He was sincerely moved by the dedication of the memorial to the Canadian casualties and this medal was presented to the King on this occasion.