A vault of history: Artifacts viewable in Legion basement

William Menzies served as a machine gunner in the First World War. Now his uniform sits in the Humboldt Legion’s museum to educate people about the war.

“It was presented to the museum by his daughter. With the uniform came the most important part: his history,” said Al Hingley, the museum’s curator. “It’s interesting and wonderful to get information and a photograph with a uniform of the wearer of the uniform, which doesn’t always happen.”

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Menzies was born in Aberfeldy, Scotland on Nov. 10, 1886. He enlisted with the Canadian Overseas Expeditionary Force on Sept. 23 in Valcartier, Que. Starting as a private, he received a number of field promotions and ended the war as an acting sergeant. He was discharged March 26, 1919 in Regina, listing on his documents that he intended to go to Humboldt.

The uniform features a brass bar on the left sleeve, signifying an injury. In Menzies’ case, he had a gunshot wound in the chin. There’s a bandolier across the chest to store bullets for the rifle. A 12-foot puttee would have been wrapped around the legs to keep out mud and other environmental hazards.

 

Saddle

Another artifact in the museum is a First World War cavalry saddle dating from 1913 donated by the Kaminski family in memory of John F. Kaminski.

“It is one of our more recent artifacts, for which we are very proud and very thankful to the family and those that assisted in getting it ready for presentation,” Hingley said. “After the death of Mr. Kaminski, in cleaning up his items, the family saved the saddle and then one of the family members said it should go to the Legion museum and that’s how it came here.”

Al Backs refurbished the saddle, while Ed Knoblauch made the stand it sits on.

Unlike a western saddle, this Canadian military saddle has no horns. There were also leg protectors to protect the horse from the spurs on the boots. The saddle would also carry many of the items in a soldier’s kit.

 

Naval dress dagger

A Nazi naval officer’s ceremonial dagger and armband from the Second World War is also featured in the museum.

The items were surrendered to Benny Ackerman of Humboldt during the war.

“It was given to the late Dr. Miller in Humboldt and then Dr. Miller’s son, Patrick Miller of Wetaskiwin, Alta. felt that it should be in the military museum back here in Humboldt because this is where it originated from,” Hingley said. “We’re pleased to have it amongst our collection.”

The items would have been worn with a dress uniform.

 

Open by appointment

The museum, located in the basement of the Humboldt Legion building, is open year round by appointment and also contains books about the wars that patrons may borrow.

Those interested can contact Hingley at 306-682-5901.

© Copyright Humboldt Journal

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