TORONTO, Wednesday, December 1, 2004.--
The Corporal Fred Topham VC Fund Raising Campaign has now passed the $200,000 level in donations, and with money still coming in, "It's certain now that we'll meet our target of $275,000 and that 'Toppy's' Victoria Cross is safe in Canada," Honorary Chairman, Jan de Vries, said. "The response from Canadians has been absolutely magnificent."
De Vries, President of the 1st Canadian Parachute Battalion Association (1 Can Para), was a comrade of Topham's and jumped into battle with him in 1945 when Topham was awarded the Victoria Cross for gallantry. It was on de Vries' initiative to prevent the VC going to a medal collector in Britain that the fundraising campaign was begun. Topham's is one of only 95 VCs awarded to Canadians since 1857.
"This has been quite a day -- we received donations and pledges totalling $60,000. The first was from the city of Toronto, where Topham was born and raised," de Vries said. "That was $25,000. Another $20,000 came from Toronto Hydro, where Fred Topham worked for many years after the war Also, the Ontario Trucking Association donated $10,000 and the East York Kiwanis pledged $5,000 and challenged other Kiwanis clubs to donate as well."
Toronto Mayor David Miller said that, "Toronto is supporting this worthy project because we view it as vital that we keep the Victoria Cross here in Canada. I challenge other municipalities across the country to rise to the challenge and help the Victoria Cross Funrdraising Project retain this valuable piece of Canadian military history."
Dave O'Brien, President and CEO of Toronto Hydro Corporation, said, "We are proud to support our veterans and, in particular, a former Toronto Hydro employee, Fred Topham, and to help keep his Victoria Cross in Canada. The VC is an important part of our history and reminds us of the many sacrifices Canadian men and women have made in serving our country."
De Vries noted that, "We have had tremendous support. The first major donation was from CIBC for $25,000 and the Toronto Sun's campaign, which includes $5,000 from the Toronto Police Association, has now raised over $50,000, and is still climbing. "Cheques are coming from everywhere and itís extremely gratifying."
"We received a donation from the North West Territories from the niece of RSM Wendell (Knobby) Clark, our Regimental Sergeant Major, who was killed on D-Day. And Dorothy Sturnick, whose husband was at the Rhine Crossing with us, is sending a donation from Saskatchewan in his memory."
He added that, "Over $2,000 was raised by military personnel at the Health Centre at Camp Gagetown in New Brunswick, where their clinic is named after Cpl Topham and quite a number of Canadian Forces personnel are involved in similar fundraisers in various parts of the country. And there are campaigns at many Royal Canadian Legion branches."
De Vries said that he has been particularly pleased with the response from school children. "Don't tell me they're not interested in Canadian history," he said. "One of the first donations we received was from Georgetown Elementary School in PEI, where the youngsters raised $25 in pennies and nickels."
"There are campaigns on in Toronto and Hamilton school districts and we've heard of others in other parts of Canada. We have received donations from King George PS and Runnymede CI in Toronto, schools Topham attended as a boy."
Topham, a former hard-rock miner in Northern Ontario, was a 27-year-old medical orderly in 1 Can Para when he jumped into Germany on the morning of March 24, 1945. The Rhine Crossing, as it became known, the last major engagement of World War Two, was fought at great cost. In the drop, and the ensuing fierce firefight, 23 Canadians from 1 Can Para were killed and 40 wounded, including Topham.
For several hours, under constant attack from small arms, rifle and machinegun fire, Topham attended to wounded comrades. When two other orderlies were killed trying to help a disabled soldier to safety, Topham took over, despite being hit in the face by enemy fire. In considerable pain, but ignoring his wound, he carried the injured paratrooper to shelter, continuing to bring in other wounded troops for several more hours before allowing medical staff to attend to him. On his way to have his wound looked after, he rescued three soldiers from a burning Bren-gun carrier despite being under enemy mortar fire, as well as being in danger from the carrier's live ammunition, which began exploding among the flames.
A tax receipt will be provided for donations of $20.00 and up. Cheques or money orders should be made out to: 1st Canadian Parachute Battalion Museum Trust (1st Can Para Bn Museum Trust). Mailing address is: The Cpl. Fred Topham VC Fundraising Project; c/o The Queen's Own Rifles of Canada; 130 Queen Street, East; Toronto ON M5A 1R9.
Further information: Charles (Chick) McGregor
905 430 1680 or 905 718 1377 (cell)
25 November 2004
Supporters of the Topham VC Fundraising Project may have seen the Sun article today (25 November) in which they mention that the Minister has pledged to support the project to keep Cpl Topham's VC in Canada. Unfortunately, this is week-old news, but you wouldn't know that, reading the Sun, who chose to launch their own campaign to assist in fundraising.
We are doing so well with our official fundraising campaign, receiving over $120K from private citizens and a few corporations over three short months. The Minister of Canadian Heritage announced last Thursday (18 November) that her Ministry would work with us to ensure that we were successful in obtaining Corporal Topham's medals for public display in Canada.
The Corporal Fred Topham, VC Fundraising Project specifically requested that the Minister hold off on making a public announcement to allow the Association's public campaign to continue, and to allow Canadian of all ages from across the country to express their support for Canada's courageous veterans. The Minister respected the Association's request and it is unfair to suggest that she has not been in full support of this campaign to keep Corporal Topham's Victoria Cross in Canada for the benefit of all Canadians.
Without the full story, the Sun has 'claimed victory', and this will most likely slow down our fundraising campaign, which has the potential to achieve its goals without any government assistance. That would be a story - Canadians from all provinces rallying to save a hero's medals.
The Toronto Police Association has just donated $5,000 - Topham was a former Toronto police officer. There are numerous schools across the country conducting fundraisers, army units, Legion Branches, etc. We do not want them to lose the opportunity to play a part.
John Fotheringham, Chairman, Topham VC Fundraising Project
OTTAWA, November 18, 2004 -- Minister of Canadian Heritage and Minister responsible for Status of Women Liza Frulla today congratulated the 1st Canadian Parachute Battalion Association on its fundraising campaign seeking to keep in Canada the Victoria Cross (VC) that was awarded to Corporal Fred Topham during the Second World War. The Minister also announced that she will contribute funds to the campaign so that this treasure will remain in Canada. The assistance from the Government of Canada will be provided through the Movable Cultural Property Program.
"I am determined to keep this medal in Canada," said Minister Frulla. "The fundraising campaign launched by the 1st Canadian Parachute Battalion Association and supported by many Canadians shows how grateful we are for the sacrifices made by our veterans so that we might live in a better world. The campaign must go on. The Government of Canada hopes that the exploits of these courageous people will be recognized at their true value and that this prestigious award will be displayed in an appropriate place, for the benefit of future generations."
Minister of Veterans Affairs Albina Guarnieri echoed this sentiment.
"Every Victoria Cross that was earned by Canadians should stay in Canada," said Minister Guarnieri. "These are powerful symbols of our national pride and they should never be exported when we have a chance to do something about it. I am touched by the widespread support for keeping Caporal Topham's VC in Canada and truly happy that the Government of Canada is able to add certainty of success to the grass-roots efforts."
"This is extremely good news from the Department of Canadian Heritage," added Jan de Vries, Honorary Chairman of the Corporal Fred Topham VC Fundraising Project. "Our campaign is well under way now, with donations arriving every day. We have been completely overwhelmed with the support from individuals and groups from coast to coast in Canada. We're delighted that they — and the Department of Canadian Heritage — share our belief that this Canadian hero's Victoria Cross belongs here."
At the age of 27, Corporal Fred Topham was a medical orderly with the 1st Canadian Parachute Battalion. During the Varsity Operation in 1945, the Battalion parachuted across the Rhine into Germany. Disregarding his own wounds, Corporal Topham unhesitatingly rescued seriously wounded men from the front line and gave them first aid despite heavy enemy fire.
The Movable Cultural Property Program was established specifically to provide financial support helping designated public institutions or authorities to purchase artifacts of national importance.
Office of the Minister of
Canadian Heritage and
Minister responsible for Status
Chief, Media Relations
16 November 2004
Readers of today's (Tues, 16 Nov) Toronto and Ottawa Suns will have seen Peter Worthington's article 'Help Us Save The Victoria Cross'. The Corporal Fred Topham, VC Fundraising Project is greatly appreciative of the Sun's initiative to assist with fundraising, but should point out that tax receipts for income tax purposes are available by donating directly to the Project, care of;
The Queen's Own Rifles,
130 Queen Street East,
Let us know that you saw the article and we'll pass on our thanks to Peter and the Sun.
13 November 2004
These past few weeks have been very encouraging for the Corporal Fred Topham, VC Fundraising Project.
Following an article in the Toronto Star on 30 October, and a Peter Silverman feature on CityTV on 02 November, the Queen's Own orderly room was overflowing with donations. In three days alone, contributions of over $15,000 were received.
On 10 November, the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce joined the cause with a donation of $25,000, and the Ontario Trucking Association jumped in on Remembrance Day with a cheque for $10,000.
The fundraising initiative has also been featured on CBC and CTV nationally, and in the Toronto Star, Toronto Sun, and the National Post, to name a few. This week's issue of Maclean's magazine will carry an article on the contribution of students toward saving Corporal Topham's medals for public display in Canada.
The word is getting out across the country, and the public is responding. We are currently at close to $100,000 in contributions towards our goal of $275,000. Thank you to all who have donated - tax receipts will be forthcoming. We look forward to the support of those who have not yet contributed, and we are confident that we will be successful in retaining Corporal Topham's Victoria Cross.
The Corporal Fred Topham, VC Fundraising Project
To donate directly please contact our fund raising treasurer, Kim Mathieson
A tax receipt will be provided for donations of $20.00 and up.
Cheques or money orders should be made out to:
1st Canadian Parachute Battalion Museum Trust (1st Can Para Bn Museum Trust).
Mailing address is:
The Cpl. Fred Topham VC Fundraising Project
c/o The Queen's Own Rifles of Canada
130 Queen Street, East
For Further Information Email or Call
Captain Charles McGregor
(905) 430-1680 (residence)
(905) 718-1377 (cell)
READ MORE ON FREDERICK TOPHAM'S VICTORIA CROSS