Medal for WWI Black Battalion member turns up 100 years later

No. 2 Construction Battalion

Medal awarded to member of Canada WWI Black Battalion turns up 100 years later

They found it in a hobby coin shop in Amherst, Nova Scotia in 2021. The medal belonged to Private M. Jackson. He was a member of Canada’s WWI Black battalion, 1914 – 1918. The medal was inscribed with Jackson’s name and his battalion number. The owner of the shop Hal Davidson set out find the relatives.

No. 2 construction Battalion was a unit made up mostly Black soldiers, the first of its kind in Canada’s war history. Even as the WWI was in full swing, Canada did not forget to maintain the order to which the country had become accustomed – the battalion was used in a non-combat role, building roads and maintaining railway tracks.  Of course they in segregated camps and not provided with the standard of care reserved for white units.

Davidson said that the search for the soldier’s family was a lot easier that he expected. He found Jackson’s great-granddaughter Theresa Brewster’s at the bottom of a profile of the soldier written and published by the Antigonish Cenotaph Project.

The profile stated that Jackson was born in Tracadie, N.S., and worked at a coal mine in Cape Breton before enlisting in 1916. He served in France with the No. 2 Construction Battalion as part of the Canadian Forestry Corps, supplying lumber for the front.

Jackson died about 18 months into his service after a physical altercation with some comrades. A charge of manslaughter was recommended, but military officials found a lack of evidence and no charges were laid, according to the Antigonish Cenotaph Project.

Last weekend Brewster was presented with medal by Davidson.

It will form part of the Universal Negro Improvement Association’s cultural museum in Glace Bay.