Royal Red Cross Medal

Maltese Cross, red enamel, with gold centre featuring image of the king.


Maltese Cross, red enamel, with gold centre featuring image of the king, red and blue ribbon.

One of a number of medals owned by the Josphine Margaret Canny, aunt of the donor, who was born in Mountshannon, County Clare on 25 March, 1904, one of eight children of RIC Constable Thomas Canny and his wife Kate Allen. The couple had met in Bruff, County Limerick, but were posted to East Clare shortly after their marriage. The family moved to Roundfort, County Mayo when Josie was five years old.

At 19, Josie went Melbourne to study nursing where she was joined twelve months later by her younger sister Kathleen. An elder sister, Marie, also worked as a nurse in Australia. Josephine enlisted in the Queen Alexandra Imperial Nursing Corps, eventually attaining the rank of Major.

When the Second World War broke out, she was posted to Sierra Leone and then to Alexandria and Cairo in Egypt. Before the war was over she had spent some time in Berlin and at the Catterick army base in Yorkshire. King George VI awarded her the Royal Red Cross Medal, First Class; her service medals included the 1939-1945 Star, The Italy Star, two Africa Stars, and the Alexandra Military Nursing Service Medal.

Josie retired to Booterstown, Dublin where she lived with her sister, Tessie Mulcahy, a former school principal. After Tessie’s death in 1987, she moved to a nursing home in Howth and finally to the Corrib Nursing Home in Headford, County Mayo where she died in February 1998. Teresa Carter told the curator that Josephine received the Royal Red Cross Medal for her bravery in confronting the Gestapo where were trying to harm prisoners of war on a train in Germany during the war.

This medal is currently on loan to the National Museum of Ireland, for its Soldiers and Chiefs exhibition, at Collins Barracks, Dublin.

Collection: Josephine Canny

Category: Medallion/Badge

2018.0078 (5536)