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March 25, 2002
City unveils plaque to honour war hero Corporal Frederick George Topham
  
Parks and Recreation - A new plaque was unveiled in Topham Park today
to recognize the heroism of Toronto-born Victoria Cross recipient, Corporal
Frederick George Topham.

Today's plaque unveiling ceremony marks the 57-year anniversary of the day
Topham earned his Victoria Cross. Deputy Mayor/Councillor Case Ootes (Ward 29,
Toronto-Danforth), Councillor Michael Tziretas (Ward 31, Beaches-East York),
and Jan de Vries, President of the 1st Canadian Parachute Battalion
Association, participated in the ceremony and were accompanied by the Queen's
Own Rifles Band and Buglers, and serving paratroopers.

"The City supports initiatives to increase awareness of Toronto's heroes," said
Deputy Mayor Ootes. "We are happy to honour Victoria Cross recipient Corporal
Topham in one of our parks by erecting this prominent plaque."

"It is important not to forget those who faced hardship with strength and
determination," said Councillor Tziretas. "This plaque will let visitors to the
park know about Corporal Topham's courage and valour and will cause them to
reflect that Topham was one of their own."

"Canada has many heroes such as Fred Topham, but few Canadians are aware of
them and the significant contributions they have made," said Mr. de Vries. "It
is important that we, as fellow Canadians, educate others of these heroic
deeds. Our members were aware of his bravery even in the earlier Normandy
Campaign and respected his dedication. We are extremely proud that Topham was a
member of the 1st Canadian Parachute Battalion."

On March 24, 1945, Corporal Frederick Topham and other medics of the 1st
Canadian Parachute Battalion parachuted near Wesel, Germany, to treat battle
casualties. After witnessing two medical paratroopers lose their lives while
trying to treat a wounded man, Topham went forward through intense fire to give
medical aid. Within minutes Topham was shot in the face, but despite severe
bleeding and intense pain, he carried the patient to safety. Topham refused
treatment for his own wound until all other wounded received medical attention.

Upon returning to duty, Topham encountered a carrier full of explosives that
had suffered a direct hit. The carrier was being bombarded with enemy mortar
bombs and its own ammunition was exploding. Despite the impending danger,
Topham rescued three men from the carrier before it finally exploded. These
heroic acts, all occurring within six hours, earned Topham a Victoria Cross-the
highest award for valour in the British Commonwealth-and a park in East York
was named in his honour.

Media contacts:
Wendy Robertson, Supervisor of Recreation and Facilities,
416-392-2664
Economic Development, Culture and Tourism Media Hotline,
416-560-8726


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