Canadian Virtual War Memorial

Ernest Edmund Beard

In memory of:

Petty Officer Stoker Ernest Edmund Beard

December 6, 1917

Military Service


Service Number:

VR/1731

Age:

30

Force:

Navy

Unit:

Royal Naval Canadian Volunteer Reserve

Division:

H.M.C.S. Niobe

Citation(s):

Albert Medal

CITATION

An extract from The London Gazette dated 18 February 1919, records the following

"Mont Blanc,"

'On the 6th December, 1917, the French Steamer with a cargo of high explosives, and the Norwegian Steamer "Imo" were in collision in Halifax Harbour. Fire broke out on the "Mont Blanc" immediately after the collision, and the flames very quickly rose to a height of over 100 feet. The crew abandoned their ship and pulled towards the shore. The commanding Officer of H.M.C.S. "Niobe," which was lying in the harbour, on perceiving what had happened, sent away a steam boat to see what could be done. Mr. Mattison and six men of the Royal Naval Canadian Volunteer Reserve volunteered to form the crew of this boat, but just as the boat got alongside the "Mont Blanc" the ship blew up, and Mr. Mattison and the whole boat's crew lost their lives. The boat's crew were fully aware of the desperate nature of the work they were engaged on, and by their gallantry and devotion to duty they sacrificed their lives in the endeavor to save the lives of others.

Additional Information


Son of Frederick and Sarah Beard.

Commemorated on Page 198 of the First World War Book of Remembrance. Request a copy of this page.

Burial Information


Cemetery:

HALIFAX MEMORIAL
Nova Scotia, Canada

Grave Reference:

Panel 1.

Location:

The HALIFAX MEMORIAL in Nova Scotia's capital, erected in Point Pleasant Park, is one of the few tangible reminders of the men who died at sea. Twenty-four ships were lost by the Royal Canadian Navy in the Second World War and nearly 2,000 members of the RCN lost their lives. This Memorial was erected by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission and was unveiled in November 1967 with naval ceremony by H.P. MacKeen, Lieutenant-Governor of Nova Scotia, in the presence of R. Teillet, then Minister of Veterans Affairs. The monument is a great granite Cross of Sacrifice over 12 metres high, clearly visible to all ships approaching Halifax. The cross is mounted on a large podium bearing 23 bronze panels upon which are inscribed the names of over 3,000 Canadian men and women who were buried at sea. The dedicatory inscription, in French and English, reads as follows:

1914-1939
1918-1945
IN THE HONOUR OF
THE MEN AND WOMEN
OF THE NAVY
ARMY AND MERCHANT NAVY
OF CANADA
WHOSE NAMES
ARE INSCRIBED HERE
THEIR GRAVES ARE UNKNOWN
BUT THEIR MEMORY
SHALL ENDURE.

On June 19, 2003, the Government of Canada designated September 3rd of each year as a day to acknowledge the contribution of Merchant Navy Veterans.

Information courtesy of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission.

Digital Collection

Send us your images
  • Commemorative Scroll– Commemorative Scroll -  memorial scroll for Beard, decorated with the coat of arms of King George V at the top of the scroll and the text: "He whom this scroll commemorates was numbered among those who, at the call of the King and Country, left all that was dear to them, endured hardness, faced danger, and finally passed out of the sight of men by the path of duty and self-sacrifice, giving up their own lives that others might live in freedom. Let those who come after see to it that his name be not forgotten." The name of Sto. P.O. Edmund Ernest Beard, Royal Canadian Navy, is written in blue ink along the bottom edge of the scroll. CWM ARCHIVES / ARCHIVES DU MCG : Textual Records 58A 1 297.15
  • Medal– Submitted for the project Operation Picture Me
  • Photo of ERNEST EDMUND BEARD– Submitted for the project Operation Picture Me
  • Newspaper Extract– An extract from The London Gazette of 18 February 1919 announcing the award of the Albert Medal for gallantry in saving life at sea to Albert Charles Mattison and Ernest Edmund Beard (posthumously) for their efforts to render assistance to the SS Mont Blanc during the prelude to the Halifax Explosion on 6 December 1917.
  • Medal– The Albert Medal for Saving Life at Sea, awarded posthumously to Ernest Edmund Beard by King George V for his heroism in the Halifax Explosion, in which he died.  Ernest Beard's Albert Medal is held by the Canadian War Museum in Ottawa.
  • Memorial– The panel on the Halifax Memorial at Point Pleasant in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada where Ernest Edmund Beard's name is inscribed.
Image taken 25 November 2017 by Tom Tulloch.
  • HMCS Niobe– The ship in which Ernest Edmund Beard served as a Petty Officer Stoker, and from which he set off with a group of five other ratings in Niobe's steam pinnace, led by Boatswain Albert Charles Mattison in an unsuccessful attempt to scuttle the burning munitions ship S.S. Mont Blanc in Halifax Harbour on 6 December 1917. All seven sailors were killed instantly when the Mont Blanc exploded, after they had come alongside.
  • Halifax Harbour– A view of Halifax Harbour shortly after the 6 December 1917 explosion that killed some 2,000 people and injured 9,000. Ernest Edmund Beard's ship, HMCS Niobe, can be seen making smoke, beside the tall chimney on the right.

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