Vincent Joyce, manager of the Pictou County Military Museum, said Cecilia Corkum of Pictou recently contacted the museum to see if it would be interested in a small statute from a church in Italy.
“Between 1943 and 1945, when the Canadians went to Italy and liberated it, Rex Corkum came along with the Royal Canadian Service Corps,” said Joyce. “The Germans bombed them and after the bombing, he went into a church in Rome, was kicking around the rubble and found this lying there with the crosses on it, not damaged.”
Corkum took the small Catholic style artifact back to the nunnery where his group was staying and tucked it inside his kit bag. A short time later, he was shipped out and his kit bag was supposed to follow.
“Well it didn’t, and Rex was discharged in 1945 and still no kit bag. He forgot all about it and in the 1950s, a nun went back to the nunnery in Italy and found Rex’s kit bag with the address of Pictou, Nova Scotia, on it.”
Joyce said the nun kept the bag with her for a while and when she was transferred from Rome to Montreal, she sent the bag back to Corkum.
“He forgot all about the bag and then he got a call from the old CNR freight shed in Pictou to go and pick up his bag.”
Cecile, who was married to Rex’s nephew, Edward, said Rex couldn’t believe he was getting the bag back after all those years and that the statute was still inside, wrapped in a blanket, unharmed.
“He never dreamed he would ever get it back,” she said.
He passed the small statute, which is enclosed in a wooden and glass case, to his daughter, but she didn’t have the same love for the artifact.
“She said it spooked her and she didn't want it in the house,” Cecilia said. “He said I could have it because I am Catholic.”
Cecilia said she recently decided that the statue deserved a more permanent home and called Joyce to see if he was interested in displaying it.
Santana Windsor, a summer student at the museum, said people are interested in learning more about the statue because it stands out amongst the medals and uniforms.
“It is something you wouldn’t normally see in a military museum,” she said.
Joyce said he is in awe about how good a condition it is considering it was first found 70 years ago and travelled a long distance to make its way to the Pictou County museum.
“Imagine that being in an army kit bag,” he said. “All the smashing, ripping and tearing that they do with those bags when they fire them around from place to place.”