19 December 2014

South Atlantic Medal


Instituted:
1982

Qualification:
Awarded to British military personnel and civilians for service in the 1982 Falklands War between the United Kingdom and Argentina. It was announced on 18th December 2014 that the medal was also to be awarded to the Falkland Islands (in the same way that Malta was awarded the George Cross).

Description:
Cupronickel, 36mm in diameter.  The obverse bears a crowned effigy of Queen Elizabeth II facing right. The reverse depicts the Falkland Islands coat of arms over a laurel wreath with the words, SOUTH ATLANTIC MEDAL above.

Ribbon:
A central stripe of sea green flanked on each side by equal widths of white and watered and shaded "Empire blue".

Suspension:
A fixed bar suspension.

Naming:
Impressed with initials, surname, rank or rating, and regiment.

Clasps:
None. A rosette to be worn on the ribbon was awarded to recipients who served for at least one day within 35° and 60° South latitude or who took part in at least one operational sortie south of Ascension Island, between the date of the Argentine invasion on 2nd April 1982 and the date of the Argentine surrender on the 14th June 1982.

The medal on its own was awarded for 30 days continuous or accumulated service between 7° and 60° South latitude between 2nd April and 14th June 1982.

Acknowledgements:
Image courtesy of Wikipedia.

11 December 2014

VC group knocked down for £260,000



I see Dix Noonan Webb have today sold Lieutenant-Colonel T C Watson's VC group of six (below) for £260,000. So much for the £180,000 (itself higher than DNW's pre-auction estimate) which was quoted in a number of papers last week.


Also sold today for £110,00 was the 2009 Conspicuous Gallantry Cross group of eight awarded to Colour Sergeant A G Dennis (above).



7 December 2014

Medal catalogue clear-out



I have a number of medal catalogues, too numerous to list here now, most of which I am selling at £5 each. Most date from the 1980s and 1990s although there are some more recent than that. Auction houses include Baldwin's, Buckland Dix & Wood, Christie's, Dix Noonan Webb, Glendinning's, London Stamp Exchange, Sotheby's and so on.

These are great reference works but they're taking up too much room on my shelves and so it's time they went. Drop me a line - my address is on the Medal Research tab of this blog - if you have a particular interest.

France and Germany Star


Qualification:
Awarded for service in Belgium, France, Germany and Holland between 6th June 1944 and 8th May 1945.

For the Royal Navy and the Merchant Navy, there was no prior time qualification. To qualify, personnel must have been "afloat in direct support of operations in the named countries above "... in the North Sea south of a line from the Firth of Forth to Kristiansand, in the English Channel or the Bay of Biscay east of longitude 6 degrees west." Personnel serving onshore in support of land operations also qualified but those serving off the south coast of France qualified for the Italy Star instead.

For the Army, participation in any operation on land in Belgium, France, Holland or Germany.

For the RAF, any service over Europe between 6th June 1944 and 8th May 1945 except those which started from the Mediterranean and qualified for the Italy Star. Non aircrew qualified under the same conditions as the army.

The France and Germany Star was not awarded in addition to the Atlantic or Air Crew Europe Star. Those who qualified for the Atlantic Star, Air Crew Europe Star or France and Germany Star were only awarded the star for which they qualified first, and a clasp for the second. A second clasp was not awarded to those who qualified for all three stars.

Description:
Bronze, 43mm diameter six-pointed star. The Royal cypher GRI with the roman numerals VI below. The cypher is surmounted by a crown and within a circlet which reads, THE FRANCE AND GERMANY STAR. All the Second World War Stars were designed by The Royal Mint.

Ribbon:
32mm wide in equal strips of blue, white, red, white, blue; these colours representing the flags of the United Kingdom, France and Holland. This ribbon, in common with all WW2 Star ribbons, was designed by His Majesty the King, King George VI.

Suspension:
A ring attached to the uppermost point of the star.

Naming:
Issued unnamed although some stars may have been privately engraved.

Clasps:
One: Atlantic. This was awarded to men who qualified for the France and Germany Star followed by the Atlantic. When the ribbon alone was worn, a silver rose emblem fixed to it noted the award of a clasp.

No Air Crew Europe clasp was awarded with this medal.

Acknowledgements:
Photo courtesy of The Cameronians. Text assistance from British Battles & Medals.

29 November 2014

Coorg Medal


Instituted:
1837

Qualification:
Awarded by the Honourable East India Company to Coorg soldiers who remained loyal during the Canara uprising.

Description:
Issued in gold (44 examples) and silver (300); 50mm in diameter and of varying thicknesses.

Obverse:
A Coorg warrior with his knife raised aloft in his right hand and a musket in his left hand. The Canarese inscription around the edge translates as, A MARK OF FAVOUR GIVEN FOR LOYALTY TO THE COMPANY'S GOVERNMENT IN SUPPRESSING REBELLION IN THE MONTHS OF APRIL AND MAY 1837.

Reverse:
Knives and war trophies within a laurel wreath and the inscription, FOR DISTINGUISHED CONDUCT AND LOYALTY TO THE BRITISH GOVERNMENT. In the exergue, COORG, APRIL 1837.

Ribbon:
There was no ribbon. Medals awarded to officers were suspended from chains, those to other ranks from cord. The swivelling suspension and ribbon buckle in the example above were obviously added later (along with the ribbon).

Suspension:
A plain loop as illustrated at the top of this post.

Naming:
Issued unnamed.

Clasps:
None issued.

Acknowledgements:
Dix Noonan Webb for the two images from past auction sales; British Battles and Medals for the background.

23 November 2014

Imperial British East Africa Company Medal


Qualification:
Initially awarded for bravery and later, after the company ceased to exist, claims made on the basis of campaign service.

Description:
The Imperial British East Africa Company received its charter in September 1888 and was wound up in October 1895. The following campaigns were in the company's jurisdiction:

1. Campaign against the sultan of Witu (1890)
2. Uganda Religious War 1891-92
The medal is 40mm, made of silver and extremely scarce. There are only 29 confirmed medals and post 1895 authorisations.

Obverse:
The company's arms of a crowned sun and ascroll underneath with the motto, LIGHT AND LIBERTY. The Arabic inscription beneath that translates as 'The Reward of Bravery'. Around the outer edge, the name of the company: THE IMPERIAL BRITISH EAST AFRICA COMPANY.

Reverse:
Plain, except for a lotus flower wreath.

Ribbon:
Plain blue

Suspension:
A plain ring suspender (above) or a swivelling scroll suspender (below).


Naming:
Engraved on the edge or the reverse.

Clasps:
None issued.

Acknowledgements:
Dix Noonan Webb for the two images from past auction sales; British Battles and Medals for the background. 

16 November 2014

Seringapatam medal


Qualification:
Awarded to men who contributed to the British victory in the 1799 Battle of Seringapatam against the armies of Tipu Sultan. The medal was commissioned by the East India Company in 1801 but the Company's officers di not receive Royal sanction to wear the medal until 1815, whilst officers of the British Army did not receive permission until 1851.

Description:
Minted in gold, silver-gilt, silver, bronze and pewter. The majority of the medals were struck at the Soho Mint in Birmingham but some inferior Calcutta strikings of the gold medal (83 examples) and silver medal (2,786 examples) were minted in 1808 and awarded to native officers (gold medals) and native other ranks (silver). This went against the guidance for the issue of medals from the English mint.



English medals were 48mm in diameter whilst the Calcutta medals were 45mm in diameter. The two strikings also differ in that the English version carries the designer's initials CHK above and to the right of the exergue (see above detail from a gold medal) whilst the Calcutta version has the initials in the wrong order - CKH - and the letter K reversed (see silver medal example below).


Obverse:
The British lion triumphing over Tipu Sultan's tiger. The Arabic inscription in the pennant translates as The Victorious Lion of God. The date given in the exergue is IV MAY MDCCXCIX

Reverse:
A scene of the attack on the fortress of Seringapatam. The Persian inscription underneath translates as Seringapatam God given 28th day of the month Zikadah, 1213 of the Hegira.

Ribbon:
Pale watered orange, 38mm wide, but also commonly seen with the same ribbon as that used for the Peninsular Gold Medal.

Suspension:
Issued without suspension but found with various types subsequently added.

Naming:
Issued un-named, although some later engraved by the recipients.

Clasps:
None, although some medals have clasps added which bear the text, SERINGAPATAM.

Acknowledgements Dix Noonan Webb for information from past auction sales and the images which I have reproduced on this post.

2 November 2014

42nd Foot Medal

http://www.dnw.co.uk/

Qualification:
Awarded to men of the 42nd Regiment of Foot who served during the Peninsula Campaign.

Description:
Silver, 32mm. Commissioned by the regiment and minted in 1819 by Parkes of Dublin. Obverse: in the upper section - St. Andrew with his cross, legend above, "Nemo me Impune Lacessit", in the lower section, British soldiers marching through mountainous country. Reverse: the winged figure of Fame above the battle honours, "Corunna, Fuentes d’Onor, Pyrenees, Nivelle, Nive, Orthes, Toulouse, Peninsula"; in a rectangle below, "42 R.H. Rt."

Ribbon:
38mm wide, crimson, edged in dark blue.

Suspension:
Medals with hinged silver straight bar suspension and scrolled suspension have previously been auctioned by Dix Noonan Webb.

Naming:
Various rank / name /regiment combinations have been noted. Details impressed along the edge.

Clasps:
None.

Acknowledgements
Dix Noonan Webb for information from past auction sales and the image which I have reproduced on this post.

24 October 2014

Medals in marble


This beautifully executed memorial is one of many in Canterbury Cathedral. It was dedicated by the wife of Major General Henry Richard Abadie CB, formerly of the IX (Queen's Royal) Lancers, in memory of her husband and four sons who died in the service of their country.

23 October 2014

Dix Noonan Webb - 24th October 2014


The latest DNW medal fest kicks off tomorrow with the auction of British Orders and Medals formed by the late Fred Rockwood. The usual deep pockets will be required. Dix Noon Webb auction catalogue here.

12 October 2014

The Italy Star


Qualification:
For the Royal Navy and the Merchant Navy, the 1939-45 Star must have been earned by six months' service in operations before the qualifying period for the Italy Star could commence. Service in the following areas would qualify: Mediterranean and Aegean seas; operations in and around the Dodecanese, Corsica, Greece, Sardinia and Yugoslavia after 11th June 1943.

For the Army, no prior time qualification. The following operational areas of service qualified: Aegean, Dodacenese, Corsica, Greece, Sardinia, Yugoslavia and Elba between 11th June 1943 and 8th May 1945.

For the RAF, no prior time qualification. Operational qualification consisted of participation in aircrew service within the Mediterranean theatre including sorties from the Mediterranean area over Europe.

Description:
Bronze, 43mm diameter six-pointed star. The Royal cypher GRI with the roman numerals VI below. The cypher is surmounted by a crown and within a circlet which reads, THE ITALY STAR. All the Second World War Stars were designed by The Royal Mint.

Ribbon:
32mm wide, a central yellow stripe (symbolising the desert) and two dark green stripes either side (symbolising forests). From the left, equal stripes of red, white, green, white and red (the colours of the Italian flag). This ribbon, in common with all WW2 Star ribbons, was designed by His Majesty the King, King George VI.

Suspension:
A ring attached to the uppermost point of the star.

Naming:
Issued unnamed although some stars may have been privately engraved.

Clasps:
None

Acknowledgements
Photo courtesy of Sarah Jane Framing and Medals.  Text assistance from British Battles & Medals.

24 September 2014

The Great War Medal Collectors Companion VOLUME II

http://www.naval-military-press.com/product.php?productid=29329&partner=PaulNixon

This long awaited second volume in Howard Williamson’s Great War Medal Collectors Companion series is now completed and ready for publication. Sales of Volume I are currently standing at [approximately] 3400. It has been decided that the print run for Volume II will only number around 2000 so early ordering is highly recommended. In has become clear that the vast amount of information gathered for Volume II would take more than one volume to print, so it was decided to split the work into two Volumes. Please Note chapter and page numbering continues sequentially with each Volume.

Volume II begins with Chapter 6 on page 572. The contents of Volume II are as follows:

FIRST CHAPTER [Chapter 6] A STUDY OF THE REGIMENTAL NUMBERS OF THE BRITISH ARMY AND DOMINION FORCES DURING THE GREAT WAR [Awarded OMRS Silver Medal 2013]

This incredible study comprises 200 pages packed with information on the regimental numbers and prefixes allocated to the Soldiers of the Great War. For the section on Line Regiments, the Author collaborated closely with Paul Nixon, whose research on Regimental Numbers provided much additional information to that compiled by the Author. The Territorial re-numberings of 1917 are all included, plus information on which number blocks were allocated to those in action on the First Day of The Somme.

The Sections on the Corps include: 
  • ASC: All the prefixes shown with their number range are explained and the units employing them are identified.
  • Labour Corps. The numbers for the Labour Companies and the Regiments to which they are affiliated plus a table linking regimental numbers and transfer details and dates.
  • RAMC: All Territorial re-numberings including refinements to include field ambulances plus notes on number blocks prior to TF renumbering.
  • RAOC: Prefixes and number ranges explained. 
  • Military Police: Notes from Paul Nixon’s blog on dates of enlistment.
  • RAVC: Notes on prefixes and numbers. 
  • RA: Territorial re-numberings. Prefixes explained.
  • RE: Notes on all number bands including a refined version of the TF numberings, Tunnelling, Gas and other companies identified as associated with certain number blocks.
  • Tank Corps: Origins of personnel revealed plus number blocks to specific battalions.
  • Sections on AIF, CEF SA, NZEF. Regimental Numbers. 
  • An A to Z of Regimental Letter & Number Prefixes, covering all units including Navy and RND.
SECOND CHAPTER [Chapter 7] ABBREVIATIONS FOUND ON GREAT WAR CAMPAIGN MEDALS AND DOCUMENTS [Awarded the OMRS Gold Medal 2013 for Outstanding Research].

This 140 page Chapter is the result of 25 years work by the Author. Sources for the information include: Medals from private collections; Medals observed at the major London (and other) auctions; Medal Index Cards; Official Documents; Ebay medal sales; plus information supplied by friends, medal dealers, and collectors etc. The study records not only the abbreviation as it appears on the medal and its interpretation, but also many useful annotations giving further information about the rank or unit. Main contents are: 
  • British and Commonwealth Unit abbreviations. 
  • MIC abbreviations [Expanded from Vol I]. 
  • British and Commonwealth Rank abbreviations. 
  • Rank & Unit abbreviations found on Documents. 
  • British Naval Rank and Unit abbreviations. 
  • Relative Ranks Army and Navy. 
  • Indian Ranks explained. 
  • Military appointments and ranks.
NOTE a check with over 100 DNW, Spink and other catalogues shows no abbreviations omitted. This should be the standard reference for WWI Abbreviations.

THIRD CHAPTER [Chapter 8] CORRIGENDA AND ADDENDA FROM VOLUME I

This section includes additional information on the following:

The Wauchope Medal
Flat Back Suspensions on WW1 Stars
The Memorial Plaque additional notes
Manufacture of WWI Medals – a summary
Complete lists of proposed Battle Clasps for both the Army & Navy
Comrades of the Great War magazine
Jutland Medal, Lady Beatty
Annotated DCM Gazettes
Additions to 1.7.16 DCM Roll
Naming issues on Great War medals

also included are some revisions to tables in Vol I plus odd typographical errors corrected.

INDEX: A user friendly Index completes the book.

The Great War Medal Collectors Companion VOLUME III Volume 3 is currently nearing completion and it is anticipated it will be published in time for Christmas.

Contents are as follows: 

Army Divisions. Their signs, brief history and a chronological list of the Battles and actions in which they were involved. 
Dates British Units landed overseas: includes British Regiments, RE, RAMC, MGC, RA [TF], Cyclist Corps, Tank Corps, etc. 
Battle Honours with dates of actions. 

Each unit is shown with its Brigade and Division so can be cross referenced with the Chapter on Army Divisions. 

The RE Section gives histories of each individual unit plus the battles which each unit was engaged.

Order NOW from Naval and Military Press or direct from the author, below:

PRICE £38.00 plus £6.50 postage and packing to HOWARD WILLIAMSON, 5 HANKIN AVENUE, HARWICH, ESSEX CO12 5HE. Please make CHEQUES PAYABLE TO: MRS ANNE WILLIAMSON.  NOTE cheques will NOT be cashed until the book is ready for posting. For general enquiries or for those wishing to collect their book in person email: howard@williamson2844.fsnet.co.uk with your instructions.

VOLUME III is nearing completion (see details above). Its expected date of publication is November, 2014. If you are interested in purchasing this Volume please tick the box and you be contacted when it is ready. All profits from the sale of this book will be used towards costs for the production of the Military Medal Roll 1916–1919. Due for publication in 2016.

11 September 2014

Military Medals of the First World War

 
Military Medal - Bravery in the Field
 
Here's the latest Naval & Military Press release for those with a World War One or medal interest: Great War British Army recipients of the Military Medal 1914-1920. This is a big book and now would be the time to buy it at this special introductory price. Click on the link or the images to go straight to the Naval & Military Press website.

Great War Military Medals 1914-1920
 


28 August 2014

Indian Mutiny medal roll


Findmypast has recently published Kevin Asplin's Indian Mutiny medal roll: 56,608 officers and men who were awarded this medal and the various clasps.

This is at least the third version of this roll that now appears online and there are differences with each.

1. Dix Noonan Webb publishes a free version HERE which is a transcript that does not include regimental numbers. But it is free.
2. Ancestry publishes the images and a thin index which you need to pay to see. In my opinion, this is the best version.
3. FindmyPast's version is also accessible only if you have a sub or Pay Per View Credits but like Ancestry you can search for free. The FindmyPast version has been augmented with information from sources other than the medal rolls and could arguably be said to be the most complete version - although you don't get images.

The image above appears on the North East Medals website.



21 August 2014

Reeman Dansie - militaria auction 28th August

 
 
Lot 487 (above) also includes a death plaque. The soldier, 301617 Rifleman William Frederick Tindley of the London Rifle Brigade was killed on 1st July 1916 so you can probably add a 0 to the £100-£150 estimate.
 
 
Update 4th September 2014. Hammer price on the above was £620. Add seller's premium of 20% (£124) plus VAT on that (£25) and you get an overall price of  £769.

6 August 2014

Pip, Squeak and Wilfred


As everyone goes First World War commemoration-crazy (and rightly so), a reminder that you'll find information on the ubiquitous WW1 trio on the following British Army Medals pages:

1914 Star
1914-15 Star
British War Medal
Victory Medal

Also see this post which details dates of issue for the 1914 Star, 1914/15 Star, BWM and VM.

Finally, don't forget the Territorial Force War Medal.

24 June 2014

Dix Noonan Webb auction, 25th-26th June


Lots of goodies coming under the hammer in this week's DNW auction including the group pictured above: a Delhi Durbar, 1914 Star trio and plaque to 9432 Pte William Smith of the Black Watch who DoW on 9th May 1915. This lot (866) is estimated at between £400 and £500 but will inevitably realise more than this. Visit the Dix Noonan Webb website to browse the catalogue or download a PDF version.

Image courtesy Dix Noonan Webb.

Footnote 26th June 2014.
I see that the above realised £460 at Hammer which means that DNW's estimate was spot on. Mind you, add buyer's premium at 20% and then VAT on top of that and the price moves north of £570; probably still a fair price for this group (albeit I find myself wanting to straighten the BWM).

12 February 2014

Dixons Gazette 77 - due soon

 
 
I love these multi-campaign groups and this one, albeit missing its LSGC, would be a good one to own.  It's currently up with Dixons for £1800. The write-up reads:
 
"William James Smith...  was born in the Parish of St. Martin-in-the-Fields, Middlesex [and]originally enlisted in the 54th Foot in September 1870, aged 24 years. Subsequently advanced to Armourer Sergeant, he transferred to the 72nd Highlanders in February 1877 and witnessed active service in India and Afghanistan, October 1871-August 1882 and in Egypt, August-October 1882..."
 
Dixons' next catalogue is due out soon.


8 February 2014

Robert Victor Chapman's duplicate 1914 Stars


I picked these up on a well-known internet auction site a few months ago.  What's unusual here is the fact that the man apparently has two 1914 Stars, one correctly named to R V CHAPMAN:

 
the other incorrectly named to R V CHAPHAM:

 
The man has two medal index cards, neither of which shed any light on the duplicate. The first is incorrectly indexed as R Y CHAPMAN:
 
 
The second is correctly indexed as Robert V CHAPMAN.  Not a CHAPHAM in sight:

 
Despite the lack of evidence, I don't find anything deeply suspicious about the duplicate 1914 Star. I'm guessing that Robert Chapman received his incorrectly impressed Star and asked that a correctly impressed replacement be sent.  Perhaps he was asked to return the original, perhaps he wasn't; maybe his service record at the Guards' archives would tell me more.  In any event, I'm not going to lose sleep over it.  The impressed letters look correct on the CHAPHAM medal - note 1 / G. Gds. as opposed to I / G. Gds: on the CHAPMAN medal, but I tell myself that the impressing is different on the CHAPMAN medal because it's a later issue.  In any event, what of the man himself?
 
There is no service records that I could find on Ancestry but his number indicates that he joined the Grenadier Guards between 16th and 19th January 1912.  As he was born on 16th May 1897 (and baptised a couple of weeks later at Cadoxton-Juxta-Barry, Glamorgan), he can only have been 14 years old, a boy soldier, when he joined the Guards.  His medal index card notes that he arrived overseas on 6th October 1914 (still only seventeen years old) but interestingly there is no indication of entitlement to a clasp.  Does this suggest that although he arrived overseas he was not under enemy fire during the qualifying period?
 
He appears to have come through the war unscathed and on 31st December 1919 married

Ellison M Bamon at Pontypridd, Glamorgan.  His marriage certificate notes his age as 22 and profession as policeman (his father George is recorded as a baker). A son, Robert George Chapman, was born on 17th July 1921 (and I also purchased his Second World War medals in a separate transaction with the same vendor, below). 



Robert Victor Chapman died in 1976 aged 78 years.  His wife Ellison, born on 4th August 1897, survived him by nine years, dying in 1985.  Their son Robert died in September 2000.
 

14 November 2012

Charles Thomas Bothwell MC


I've had this photo for a while and until today I didn't know who this officer was.  This afternoon, I discovered the self-same photo on somebody else's tree (thanks Ancestry) and now know that this man is Lt Charles Thomas Bothwell MC (1887-1969).  His son Stan would later marry my father's cousin Olive and, whilst on active service, would be tragically killed in a road traffic accident in England in 1941. Olive never re-married and claimed a war widow's pension until she died in 2008 at the age of 93.

As for Charles Thomas Bothwell, he arrived in the Balkan Theatre of war as a sergeant, was commissioned second lieutenant on the 25th September 1916 and was awarded the Military Cross the following year.  His citation was published in the LG on the 16th August 1917 and reads:


I'd love to know where his medals are and reunite them with that of his son's.  Anyone know of their whereabouts?

7 April 2012

Lost Medals Australia



An honourable mention here to Lost Medals Australia and the associated Lost Medals Australia blog. Run by Lt Col Glyn Llanwarne, Lost Medals Australia has, since 2000, been returning lost medals to veterans or their families. This is a free service supported through donations of 'found' medals.  To date, an impressive 1111 medals have been returned.

The image on this post has been taken from the Lost Medals Australia blog and the fascinating story of the return of a First World War pair owned by a former mayor of St Kilda. Well done, Glyn, and thanks for following this blog.

6 April 2012

203507 Pte L A Harris, Essex Regiment



I picked up the Victory Medal to this man about eighteen months ago; part of a job lot from the second-hand market in Chelmsford.  I wrote about Stephen Smeeton - another component of the job lot - yesterday.  This is Leslie Harris's story.

The medal index card gives this man's name as Leslie, and little else.  He was entitled to the British War and Victory Medals and so did not arrive overseas until 1916 at the earliest.  His number - 203507 - belongs to the series allocated to the 4th Battalion, Essex Regiment, and I know from my own research into army numbers that this number was not issued until after May 1917. 

There are surprisingly few candidates for Leslie A Harris recorded in the GRO's birth records. The most compelling candidate appears to be Leslie Arnold Harris who was born in Godmanchester, Huntingdonshire and who appears on the 1911 census as a 12-year-old living with his family at 64 Salisbury Avenue, Rochford, Essex.  This would have made him an 18-year-old conscript in 1917.

The owner of my Victory medal certainly survived the war and, I believe, died in 1961.  There is a death for a 61-year-old Leslie A Harris recorded in the Brentwood District in the June quarter of that year.

Cap badge courtesy of North-East Medals.

5 April 2012

B-2966 Pte S S G Smeeton, Rifle Brigade


I picked up this man's Victory Medal some while back and thought it might be an idea to post what I know about him.  His medal index card tells us the following:

1. He was entitled to the 1914-15 Star, the British War Medal and the Victory Medal
2. He was awarded silver war badge number 151770 which was mislaid, was found by the police,returned to him and subsequently acknowledged on the 20th June 1917
3. He arrived overseas in France on the 21st July 1915
4. He was a corporal when he stepped off the boat in France but was subsequently reduced in rank
5. He must have been discharged from the army prior to 20th June 1917 (see 2. above)
6. His British War Medal was incorrectly impressed and was returned on the 18th February 1921.  It was re-issued on the 21st December that year.

No service record survives for this man but the B prefix indicates that this man was either a reservist whose number had been re-allocated (which, incidentally, according to Queen's and King's Regulations, it shouldn't have been) or a time-expired regular who was re-enlisting.  I could find no surviving service record in WO 97 but his silver war badge roll entry confirms that he enlisted on the 1st September 1914 and was discharged on the 20th March 1917 as a result of wounds (rather than sickness).

A search through birth records yields one candidate: Stephen Samuel G Smeeton whose birth was registered in the West Ham district in the September quarter of 1885.  I have not located him on either the 1891 or 1901 census returns but he appears on the 1911 census as a 25 year-old stevedore living with his parents and five siblings at 68 Canton Street, Poplar.  A widowed sister-in-law, Bertha Kershaw, is also recorded and it is noted that his mother had given birth to eleven children, nine of whom were still living in 1911.  Stephen is recorded on the census as Stephen S J Smeeton and he is the only child who is recorded as having been born in West Ham.  The next youngest sibling is Albert James Smeeton aged 20, and therefore born around 1890, whose place of birth is noted as Poplar.  Presumably then, the family moved from West Ham to Poplar at some point between 1885 and 1890. Stephen is the only member of the family noted at that address on the 1915 electoral roll.

As regards Stephen's military service, let's assume he joined the army at the age of 18.  This would have made his year of enlistment as 1903 and a time when general short service enlistment terms were three years with the colours and nine on the reserve.  So perhaps he served until 1906 and was on the reserve when war was declared.  This doesn't seem right to me - his date of entry into France seems just too late for a much-needed reservist - but I'll have to content myself with this mystery in the absence of documentary evidence to the contrary.

The year after he was discharged from the army, Stephen Smeeton married Gwendoline E E Hiorns in Hackney.  Their marriage was recorded in the September quarter of that year. He and Gwendoline appear on the 1919 and 1920 electoral rolls living at 167 Mandeville Street, Hackney but by 1922 Stephen is living at 50 Spring Lane, Stamford Hill (Gwendoline does not appear) and he's still there, alone, in 1923 and 1924.  As well as confirming Stephen's address, the electoral rolls also give us his full name: Stephen Samuel George Smeeton.

I could find no evidence of issue from Stephen's marriage to Gwendoline Hiorns and after 1924 the trail goes cold until 1937 when Stephen Smeeton's death at the age of 51 is recorded in the registration district for Ongar, in Essex.

9 March 2012

The Burma Star


Qualification:
Awarded for service in the Burma campaign between 11th December 1941 and 2nd September 1945 inclusive.

Description:
Bronze, 43mm diameter six-pointed star. The Royal cypher GRI with the roman numerals VI below. The cypher is surmounted by a crown and within a circlet which reads, THE BURMA STAR. All the Second World War Stars were designed by The Royal Mint.

Ribbon:
32mm wide, dark blue with a wide red stripe (denoting the Commonwealth) down the centre and two orange stripes (denoting the sun) on either side. This ribbon, in common with all WW2 Star ribbons, was designed by His Majesty the King, King George VI.

Suspension:
A ring attached to the uppermost point of the star.

Naming:
Issued unnamed although some stars may have been privately engraved.

Clasps:
One: PACIFIC. Personnel qualifying for both the Burma Star and the Pacific Star were awarded the Star to which they first became entitled and a clasp denoting the second. When only ribbons were worn, a silver rose emblem signified the award of the clasp.

Qualification by service is listed below. Official visits did not qualify for this star unless these amounted to thirty days or more.

ROYAL NAVY & MERCHANT NAVY
Service at sea in the Bay of Bengal "... enclosed by a line running from the southernmost part of Ceylon for a disatnce of 300 miles south, thence to a point 300 miles west of the southernmost point of Sumatra, and continuing east to the western side of the Sundra Strait. The Malaca straits are included." (British Battles and Medals).

The 1939-1945 Star must have been earned by six months' service in operations before elegibility for the Burma Star could begin. (BBM)

Persons entering operationl service during the last six months of the war qualified for the star if they did not subsequently serve in another operational area. In this case the prior time qualification of six months did not apply. Naval personnel serving ashore qualified under the same rules as army personnel.

ARMY
Qualifying service in any part of Burma, the provinces of Bengal and Assam between 1st May 1942 and 2nd September 1945, China and Malaya between 16th February 1942 and 2nd September 1945.

RAF
Awarded to RAF personnel who had completed at least one operational sortie. Non-aircrew qualified under army rules.

Acknowledgements
Photo courtesy of medal auctioneers Dix Noonan Webb.  The group, awarded to Sergeant Thomas Henry Harris of the Royal Artillery comprises a G.VI.R. Military Medal, 1939-45 Star, Burma Star; and Defence and War Medals. It was sold at auction in September 2011 for £1450 (hammer price).Text assistance from British Battles & Medals.

3 March 2012

The Pacific Star


Qualification:
Awarded for service in Pacific theatre of operations between 8th December 1941 and 2nd September 1945 inclusive.

Description:
Bronze, 43mm diameter six-pointed star. The Royal cypher GRI with the roman numerals VI below. The cypher is surmounted by a crown and within a circlet which reads, THE PACIFIC STAR. All the Second World War Stars were designed by The Royal Mint.

Ribbon:
32mm wide, a central yellow stripe (symbolising the desert) and two dark green stripes either side (symbolising forests). The red edges and light blue and dark blue stripes represent the army, air force and navy respectively. This ribbon, in common with all WW2 Star ribbons, was designed by His Majesty the King, King George VI.

Suspension:
A ring attached to the uppermost point of the star.

Naming:
Issued unnamed although some stars may have been privately engraved.

Clasps:
One: BURMA. Personnel qualifying for both the Pacific Star and the Burma Star were awarded the Star to which they first became entitled and a clasp denoting the second. When only ribbons were worn, a silver rose emblem signified the award of the clasp.

Qualification by service is listed below. Official visits did not qualify for this star unless these amounted to thirty days or more.

ROYAL NAVY
Service at sea in the Pacific Ocean, South China Sea and Indian Ocean east of the line running south of Singapore. Except in the case of those who served in the Pacific for less than six months after 2nd March 1945, the Pacific Star was only awarded to those who had served at least six months and qualified for the 1939-45 Star. Naval personnel serving ashore qualified under the same rules as army personnel.

ARMY
Qualifying service was restricted to territories (except Burma) which had been invaded.

RAF
Awarded to RAF personnel who had completed at least one operational sortie over the appropriate land or sea area.

Acknowledgements
Photo courtesy of medal auctioneers Dix Noonan Webb.  Text assistance from British Battles &amp.

18 February 2012

The Africa Star


Qualification:
Awarded for one or more day's service in North Africa between 10th June 1940 and 12th May 1943 inclusive.

Description:
Bronze, 43mm diameter six-pointed star. The Royal cypher GRI with the roman numerals VI below. The cypher is surmounted by a crown and within a circlet which reads, THE AFRICA STAR. All the Second World War Stars were designed by The Royal Mint.

Ribbon:
32mm wide, one central red stripe on pale buff and with two narrow stripes, one of dark blue, one of light blue. This ribbon, in common with all WW2 Star ribbons, was designed by His Majesty the King, King George VI.

Suspension:
A ring attached to the uppermost point of the star.

Naming:
Issued unnamed although some stars may have been privately engraved.

Clasps:
Three: 8TH ARMY, 1ST ARMY and NORTH AFRICA 1942-43. Note that only one clasp was awarded to any one individual. Personnel qualifying for more than one clasp were awarded the first one to which they were entitled.  A silver rose emblem worn on a ribbon denoted the NORTH AFRICA 1942-43 clasp; a figure 8 denoting 8TH ARMY and a figure 1 denoting 1ST ARMY.

Qualification by service is listed below. Note that visits and inspections to or in the areas listed below did not qualify personnel for the award of this star unless these amounted to thirty days or more.

ROYAL NAVY
Any service at sea in the Mediterranean between the qualifying dates and/or service in support of the campaigns in Eritrea, Abyssinia and Somaliland between 10th June 1940 and 27th November 1941. Naval service ashore in the same area as Army operations also qualified.

MERCHANT NAVY
Those Merchant Seamen who took part in operations off the coast of Morocco between 8th November 1942 and 12th May 1943.

ARMY
Those serving in North Africa on the establishment of an operational unit. Service in West Africa was not included, but service in Abyssinia, Somaliland, Eritrea, Sudan and Malta was.

RAF
Those RAF personnel who landed in or flew over Abyssinia, Somaliland, Eritrea, Sudan or Malta (excluding West Africa) or territory occupied by the enemy.

Acknowledgements:

The photograph is courtesy of Dix Noonan Webb and shows the group awarded to Captain Harold John March of the Royal Army Service Corps. Captain March's medal group comprises the British Empire Medal, 1939-45 Star; Africa Star (with 8TH ARMY clasp), Defence and War Medals (with M.I.D. oak leaf), Coronation medal 1937. The group, sold at auction in December 2011 for £250 (hammer price).

British Battles & Medals for chapter and verse on this medal.

5 February 2012

The Air Crew Europe Star


Qualification:
Awarded for operational flying from United Kingdom air bases over Europe between 3rd September 1939 and 5th June 1944.

Description:
Bronze, 43mm diameter six-pointed star.  The Royal cypher GRI with the roman numerals VI below.  The cypher is surmounted by a crown and within a circlet which reads, THE AIR CREW EUROPE STAR. All the Second World War Stars were designed by The Royal Mint.

Ribbon:
32mm wide, light blue with black edges and two yellow stripes (symoblising continuous service by day and night). This ribbon, in common with all WW2 Star ribbons, was designed by His Majesty the King, King George VI.

Suspension:
A ring attached to the uppermost point of the star.

Naming:
Issued unnamed although some stars may have been privately engraved.

Clasps:
Two: ATLANTIC and FRANCE AND GERMANY. Note that only one or the other, not both, could be awarded to the Atlantic Star.

Those personnel who qualified for the Atlantic Star and/or the France and Germany Star were entitled to wear the clasp for which the second star would have been awarded. When just ribbons were worn, a silver rose on the Atlantic Star denoted the award of a clasp.

Acknowledgements:
The photograph is courtesy of Dix Noonan Webb and shows the group awarded to 1056077 Sergeant E. R. Mitchell of the Royal Air Force.  His medal group comprises the Distinguished Flying Medal, G.VI.R; 1939-45 Star; Air Crew Europe Star (with ATLANTIC clasp) and the War Medal 1939-45.  The group, together with the sweetheart brooch illustrated, was offered for auction in September 2010 but was unsold on the day.

British Battles & Medals for chapter and verse on this medal.

The Atlantic Star


Qualification:
Awarded to commemorate the Battle of The Atlantic between 3rd September 1939 and 8th May 1945.

Description:
Bronze, 43mm diameter six-pointed star.  The Royal cypher GRI with the roman numerals VI below.  The cypher is surmounted by a crown and within a circlet which reads, THE ATLANTIC STAR. All the Second World War Stars were designed by The Royal Mint.

Ribbon:
32mm wide, equal bands of (from left) watered blue, white and sea-green (symoblising the waters of the Atlantic). This ribbon, in common with all WW2 Star ribbons, was designed by His Majesty the King, King George VI.

Suspension:
A ring attached to the uppermost point of the star.

Naming:
Issued unnamed although some stars may have been privately engraved.

Clasps:
Two: AIR CREW EUROPE and FRANCE AND GERMANY. Note that only one or the other, not both, could be awarded to the Atlantic Star.

Those personnel who qualified for the Atlantic Star AND the Air Crew Europe Star and/or the France and Germany Star were entitled to wear the clasp for which the second star would have been awarded. When just ribbons were worn, a silver rose on the Atlantic Star denoted the award of a clasp.

Acknowledgements:
The photograph is courtesy of Dix Noonan Webb and shows the group awarded to 530644 Flight Sergeant Andrew Brown of the Royal Air Force who completed 40 operational sorties including 18 sorties to Berlin, the famed “Big City”, as a Mosquito Navigator

Flight Sergeant Brown's medal group comprises the Distinguished Flying Medal, G.VI.R; 1939-45 Star; Atlantic Star (with copy clasp AIR CREW EUROPE); Africa Star; Defence and War Medals 1939-45, and Mentioned in Dispatches oak leaf; The group, sold at auction in September 2011 for £1700 (hammer price).

British Battles & Medals for chapter and verse on this medal.

4 February 2012

The 1939-45 Star


Qualification:
Awarded for service in the Second World War between 3rd September 1939 and 2nd September 1945.

Description:
Bronze, 43mm diameter six-pointed star.  The Royal cypher GRI with the roman numerals VI below this.  The cypher is surmounted by a crown and within a circlet which reads, THE 1939-1945 STAR. All the Second World War Stars were designed by The Royal Mint.

Ribbon:
32mm wide, equal bands of dark blue (symoblising the Royal Navy and Merchant Navy), red (symbolising the Army) and light blue (symbolising the Royal Air Force).  This ribbon, and all WW2 Star ribbons, was designed by His Majesty the King, King George VI.

Suspension:
A ring attached to the uppermost point of the star.

Naming:
Issued unnamed although some stars may have been privately engraved.

Clasps:
One: Battle of Britain.

Acknowledgements:
The photograph is courtesy of Dix Noonan Webb and shows the group awarded to Squadron leader N J Wheeler of the Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve who flew Hurricanes in No 615 Squadron during the Battle of Britain.  The group, sold at auction in December 2011 for £2900 (hammer price) comprises the Air Force Cross, G.VI.R., 1939-45 Star (with copy clasp Battle of Britain); Air Crew Europe Star; Defence and War Medals 1939-45; Air Efficiency Award, G.VI.R., 1st issue. 
 
British Battles & Medals for assistance with the text.

12 January 2012

Punjab and Sutlej Campaign Medals


I was responding to a query the other day from somebody whose relative had died in India in the early 1850s and who had probably served during the Punjab and Sutlej campaigns with the 29th Regiment of Foot.

The Sutlej Campaign Medal and The Punjab Campaign Medal make a very nice pair that would grace any collection (and certainly don't grace my own yet).  DNW sold a pair to a 29th Foot man in 2002 for £800 and he'd got a clasp for Sobraon on his Sutlej medal and Chilianwala and Goojerat on his Punjab medal.

The pair illustrated above show the same entitlement as those awarded to the 29th Foot man but these were awarded to Captain E A C D'Oyly of the Bengal Horse Artillery and were sold by DNW at auction for £4800 in June 2005.  You can read more about Captain D'Oyly on the DNW site.  Image courtesy of Dix Noonan Webb.