Sunday, June 17, 2012

A Chance Discovery

Gossips has twice told the story of Malcolm Gifford, Jr., the second son of Malcolm Gifford, Sr., who was the son of James Gifford and the nephew of artist Sanford Robinson Gifford. When he was in prep school, in 1914, Malcolm, Jr., was accused of murdering a chauffeur. He was tried twice, and each time, the trial ended in a hung jury. After the second trial, he was released on $25,000 bond and was not tried a third time.

In February 1917, two months before the United States entered World War I, Malcolm Gifford, Jr., then a student at Williams College, went to Montreal with some fellow students and enlisted in the Canadian Army. In early November 1917, he was killed in action.

Yesterday, while following up on some information gathered during the Hudson Pride Parade, I discovered this item about Malcolm Gifford, Jr., which appeared on January 27, 1918, almost three months after his death, in the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle. It was obviously picked up from a Hudson newspaper.

Canadian Chaplain Tells of Heroic End of Malcolm Gifford, Jr.
Hudson, Jan. 26--It was in the terrific fighting for the possession of Passchendaele in a recent great British offensive that Malcolm Gifford, Jr., of this city, was killed, according to information received here by his father from the Rev. George C. Taylor, chaplain of the Thirty-sixth Battery, Canadian Artillery. The young man's death was previously reported.

The chaplain, in his letter, stated that Gifford fell after twenty days' fighting at the utmost point then gained in the British advance.

"To die in such a struggle was to crown a life with glory," the chaplain wrote. "It has been said that the Victoria Cross should have been given to every man who took part in it. The work had been tried again and again by others but, when all had failed, our boys brushed aside 'impossibility' and carried all before them. Day after day, no German fire could divert them from their guns. Your brave boy and another fell together. It was a typical soldier's death."

Malcolm Gifford, Jr., died in the Second Battle of Passchendaele, which took place in Belgium between October 26 and November 10, 1917. This historic photograph, found on Wikipedia, shows German prisoners of war helping to carry the casualties away from the front.

1 comment:

  1. In Flanders fields the poppies blow
    Between the crosses, row on row,
    That mark our place; and in the sky
    The larks, still bravely singing, fly
    Scarce heard amid the guns below.

    We are the Dead. Short days ago
    We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
    Loved and were loved, and now we lie,
    In Flanders fields.

    Take up our quarrel with the foe:
    To you from failing hands we throw
    The torch; be yours to hold it high.
    If ye break faith with us who die
    We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
    In Flanders fields.