The commemorative stamp will be issued to honor William Hall V.C., featuring an illustration of an older, decorated Hall, based on a photograph taken circa 1900 in Nova Scotia. “The colour and fine detail add a degree of richness and intensity otherwise lost in an archival photograph. It also makes it possible to combine different elements to tell a story.” In this case, Hall is shown against a seascape, with the HMS Shannon in the background. He is wearing his Victoria Cross, the Indian Mutiny Medal, the Turkish Crimea Medal and the Crimea Medal. “This is a proud, heroic moment for him later in life,” Minja says of the image. “This feature is extended onto the pane, which tells the story of his life.”
A Victoria Cross, a simple and understated bronze pattée with a matte finish, hangs from a blue ribbon in the Nova Scotia Museum’s heritage collection. Its inscription, “For Valour,” summons the outstanding courage of its Nova-Scotia-born recipient, William Hall, and the blue ribbon, set apart from the traditional crimson, denotes his naval service. When he was presented his Victoria Cross on October 28, 1859, Hall was the first black person, the first Nova Scotian, and the first Canadian sailor to receive this outstanding honour. This February, to celebrate Black History Month, Canada Post will issue a commemorative stamp in his honour.
William Hall was born circa 1825 to African-American parents who had been liberated from the U.S. slave trade. He launched his seafaring career at a young age, first joining the crew of an American trading vessel in 1844. In 1852, he enlisted in the British Royal Navy as an able seaman. Before long, he was decorated with British and Turkish medals for his service in the Crimean War.
In 1857, while serving on the HMS Shannon, Hall volunteered with a relief force sent to Lucknow, India, where a British garrison was besieged by mutineers. Two survived the attack, Seaman Hall and Lieutenant Thomas Young, but only Hall was left standing, and he continued to fight until the relief of the garrison was assured. For this outstanding display of bravery, he was awarded the Victoria Cross.
Title: William Hall V.C.
Date of Issue: 1 February 2010
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