9 October 2018

2nd Devonshire Regiment officers, Razmak, India 1924

There are a number of lucky breaks which aid identification in this photograph. Having said that, at the time of writing I have not even attempted to put names to the faces of these Devonshire Regiment men.

Helpfully, the photographer is recorded as Arora of Razmak and the date is the 24th April 1924. Razmak is in Pakistan these days but it was still India in 1924, of course. The regimental identification comes from the officers' helmets, the old reference to the 11th (or XI) Foot still in use thirty-three years after these designations had been abandoned. The 2nd Battalion had been in India since 1919 and it would proceed to Aden in 1926, returning to the UK the following year.

There is a good array of medals on view here. With one exception, all of the officers in the front row wear at least two campaign medals from the First World War, and the man third from right wears a QSA (and an OBE). Four of the men wear clasps on their 1914 Star ribbon and there are two men who wear the Military Cross. The most decorated man of this group is the man seated fourth from right who wears a DSO, MC and an oak leaf emblem on his Victory Medal ribbon, signifying that he was mentioned in despatches. At least two other men also wear this oak leaf emblem.

The man second from right appears to be suffering from some form of paralysis which affects his left side. Of the other officers in this group, two men wear a campaign pair from 1914-1918. It's a superb photo and now I need to find an Army List for 1924 to try and identify these men.

27 August 2017

Volunteer Service Gazette & Illustrated War News

There have been some significant military releases by the British Newspaper Archive and Findmypast in the last week and it's appropriate to publicise these here as so much of what most medal collectors do involves as much background research as possible about medal recipients.

Surviving service records for members of the Volunteer Force are few and far between. Some later records may survive as part of a man's Territorial Force record but for the most part these papers (1859-1908) simply do not survive. This leaves those of us with an interest in the VF turning to other sources, and The Volunteer Service Gazette is a fantastic source and resource.

The British Newspaper Archive has published digital copies of this weekly publication between October 1859 and December 1903 and these can be searched on the BNA website and also on Findmypast.

The second publication of note this week is the Illustrated War News. This was one of the better weekly publications during the First World War, and in particular those earlier issues, mostly from 1915, which feature (often) third-line Territorial Force photographs of officers and NCOs which name the individuals concerned.

Some issues also feature pages of potted biographies and portraits of (mostly) officer casualties similar to the one I have posted at the top of this particular blog post. 

Both of these collection have been run through an OCR process which means that it is possible to search by name, although one would hope that Findmypast might also consider making a separate indexed collection of The Illustrated War News available in due course. As for me, I shall now hopefully be making room on my bookshelves by selling off my two bound volumes of the IWN.

25 February 2017

Superb two-volume Scots Guards history massively discounted

 Till the Trumpet Sounds Again

Naval and Military Press has acquired copies of this recent two-volume Helion publication and is massively discounting from £75 to £30. I remember reviewing these books last year (and frankly, it seems a little early to be remaindering these, if this is what has happened) and they are superbly well-researched and very readable.

 Scots Guards

Randall, as former Scots Guards officer himself, knows the regiment well and has access to thousands of Scots Guards service records and other regimental material that he has used unsparingly in this massive two-volume account. At £75 the books were something of a bargain. Now, at £30, these books are no less than a steal ands to be recommended not only to Scots Guards medal collectors and enthusiasts, but to anyone with an interest in the First World War. This is the First World War regimental history that the Scots Guards never had and once these books are sol they will quickly become highly and deservedly sought-after.

 Scots Guards

14 February 2017

Somme VC to go under the hammer

The star in Dix Noonan Webb's March 1st auction is this First Day of the Somme VC and German Spring Offensive MC group to Captain George Sanders who served with the 1/7th and 1/6th Battalions of the West Yorkshire Regiment. This from DNW's catalogue:

The exceptional Great War ‘First Day of The Somme’ V.C., ‘German Spring Offensive’ M.C. group of six awarded to Captain George Sanders, who was awarded his Victoria Cross whilst serving as a Corporal in the 1/7th (Leeds Rifles) Territorial Battalion, for gallantry near Thiepval on 1 July 1916, when, following an advance into the enemy’s trenches, he found himself isolated with a party of thirty men - Impressing upon them that it was ‘his and their duty to hold the position at all costs’ they fought a series of desperate actions over a period of 36 hours, all without food and water, the gallant Sanders eventually returning to British lines with nineteen of his comrades. 

Subsequently commissioned from the ranks and posted to the 1/6th Battalion, Sanders again found himself in a fight against overwhelming odds on 25 April 1918 at the Battle of Kemmel Hill, following which action he was posted as missing - Witnesses stated that he was last seen standing on top of a pill-box rallying his men, shot in the right arm and leg, but continuing to fire his revolver at the enemy at point blank range with his left hand - This, however, was not the last to be heard from the heroic Sanders, as the following July a letter was received from him, sent from Limburg Prisoner of War Camp and two months later the 
London Gazette carried the announcement of the award of his Military Cross.

The group has an estimate of £180,000 to £220,000.

For more on this lot, and all lots in the 1st March 2017 sale, browse the Dix Noonan Webb catalogue online.

12 February 2017

No 2 RFA officer cadet school - Four MMs on show

I bought this photo in Cambridge last week.  What's interesting - and unusual - about it is that the men are named. There is no location noted but I believe it to have been taked in 1918 at the No 2 officer cadet school at Topsham Barracks, Exeter. A number of the men have prior service and four of them are recipients of the Military Medal. I have carried out some research but there is still more to be done.  Here are the bare bones.

Robert Fletcher. Formerly 2/1714 Dvr NZFA.
William Sinclair Barbour. LG 4 Sep 1918. To be Temp 2nd Lt 19 Aug 1918.
Leslie Robinson Sampson. LG 21 Oct 1918. To be Temp 2nd Lt 30 Sep 1918
Ellis Ivan Prime MM. Formerly 2/2239 Gnr, 10th Battery, 4th Bde, NZFA. LG 09.12.1916. Citation for 20th Sep 1916 on the Longueval-Flers Road
Liddle. Nothing found on Google search of Liddle/gazette/artillery/1918.
John James CrottyFormerly 2/2803 Cpl NZFA
William Gordon MacClintock MM. Formerly 2/2211 Cpl, 3rd Battery, 1st Bde, NZFA. LG 02.11.1917. Citation for 25th August 1917, south of Messines.
Henry Archer Pascall MM. Formerly 8618 Sgt, RFA & G Battery AA Group. From East Dulwich. LG 02.11.1917, an award for 3rd Ypres, August 1917.  [LG 4 Sep 1918. To be Temp 2nd Lt 19 Aug 1918]
Hermann Henry Osmers MM. Formerly 2/232 Gnr, 1st Battery, NZFA. LG 21.09.1916. Citation for 8th June 1916, near Houplines.
Alastair Stewart MacWhirter. LG 4 Sep 1918. To be Temp 2nd Lt 19 Aug 1918.
Roland William L'Estrange Heppard. LG 9 Nov 1918. To be Temp 2nd Lt 24 Oct 1918.
Dawson. Nothing found on Google search of Dawson/gazette/artillery/1918.
Captain Louis Alfred Pantlin. RFA, WO 339/78359.
Sgt Finch
George Malcolm Thomson. LG 4 Sep 1918. To be Temp 2nd Lt 19 Aug 1918.
Howard Carston Catcheside. LG 30 Aug 1918. To be Temp 2nd Lt 15 Aug 1918]
Reid. Unknown.

Howard Catcheside (1899-1987) would later play rugby for England, making his international debut in January 1924. He was the first player to score a try in each round of the then Five Nations Championship, a feat not equalled by another Englishman until 2002 by Will Greenwood. 

22 January 2017

An Arras casualty: S/20896 Rfm Herbert Charles Hines, 1st Rifle Brigade

Here's a nice little group which is my latest acquisition, courtesy of The London Medal Company. These have been on the market before, and were certainly sold at auction in 2005. Nevertheless, with the 100th anniversary of the Battle of Arras just around the corner, I thought it would be fitting to add this Arras casualty group to my collection.

S/20896 Rfm Herbert Charles Hines of the 1st Rifle Brigade was killed in action on the opening day of the Battle of Arras on the 9th April 1917.  He was born in New Cross, South London in 1883, his birth registered at Greenwich in the fourth quarter of that year. He was the son of William Hines, a bricklayer by trade, and his wife Emily, and they baptised him on the 5th December 1883 at Christchurch, East Greenwich (image below, courtesy of the LMA via Ancestry).

On the 1891 census the family was living at 6 Glenville Grove, Greenwich and comprised William and Emily and their six children, Herbert, aged seven, being the second eldest. His place of birth is recorded here as Deptford.

By the time the 1901 census was taken, Herbert was working as a sculleryman at Greenwich Naval College and, ten years on, aged 27, he was living alone at 14 Goodwood Road, New Cross, and working as a pastry cook. The following year he married Eliza Gibson (born 2nd January 1882)  in Greenwich and the year after that, on the 2nd August 1913, their daughter Lilian Agnes F Hines was born, her birth registered in Lewisham district in the third quarter of that year.

No service record survives for Herbert but his regimental number suggests that he joined the Rifle Brigade on the 6th June 1916. Other men with numbers in this range are mostly Derby Scheme men who had attested in November or December 1915 and were now being called up. As a married man, born in 1883, Herbert would have been placed into Group 38, and groups 33 to 41 began to be called up at the end of May 1916. The extract below shows other men with regimental numbers close to Herbert's, the date they attested, the Derby Scheme Group they belonged to (if they had attested under the Derby Scheme) and the date on which they were mobilised. Six of the nine men in this small sample were Derby Scheme men:

Unfortunately there is no pattern of service beyond early September 1916. The majority of these men - and presumably Herbert too - joined the regiment at Winchester on the 7th June and were posted to the 15th Battalion on the 10th June. From there, it was a transfer to the 20th Training Reserve Battalion for many, and then transfer again for many of the men. Three of the men listed above were transferred to the King's Royal Rifle Corps whilst others found themselves with the Northamptonshire Regiment and The Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers.

Herbert remained with the Rifle Brigade though. He was drafted to the 1st Rifle Brigade, probably via an Infantry Base Depot in Etaples or Havre and thus found himself serving with a regular battalion which had been in France since the 23rd August 1914 but which would have completely changed in complexion, many of the original members of that battalion having become casualties long ago. The battalion formed part of the 11th Brigade in the 4th Division.

The battalion war diary entry for the 9th April 1917 reads:

"Bn taking part in 3rd Army operations left the camp at 6.15am being engaged in the final objective of this day... Casualties: Capt Jackson and 2nd Lt Schiff killed; Capt Cavendish, 2nd Lts Day, Wellerd and Bridgman wounded. Other ranks, 20 killed , 71 wounded, 32 missing (16 subsequently being found holding shell hole posts)."

Herbert's name initially appeared on a Rifle Brigade list dated 29th April 1917 which appears to record him as being wounded, although note the speech marks around the letter W.

Soldiers Died in The Great War records that Herbert was killed in action and his widow would later receive a gratuity of £3 in addition to the princely sum of £3, three shillings and sixpence owing to him at the time of his death.

Eliza would have been sent Herbert's medals and memorial plaque, and it was presumably she who arranged for them to be framed together with a tiny portrait photo of him.  Eliza Hines never remarried and died in 1962 having been a widow for thirty-five years. Lilian Hines, who barely knew her father, married Victor C Benfield in 1946. The couple had one daughter, Margaret A Benfield, born in 1947. Lilian Benfield died at Hove in Sussex in 1989. 

Herbert Hines has no known grave and is commemorated on the Arras Memorial. He may be remembered by family members. He is now remembered by me. RIP.

The final image on this blog post is from series WO 363 and is Crown Copyright of The National Archives.

I research soldiers!

29 December 2016

4042, later D/20999 Squadron Sergeant Major Frederick Allsopp, 6th (Inniskilling) Dragoons

Medals sought, please, for the man pictured above. His name was Frederick Allsopp and in the undated photograph above he wears the following medals:

Distinguished Conduct Medal
QSA with clasps for Johannesburg, Diamond Hill, Belfast, Cape Colony and Orange Free State
KSA with usual two clasps
1914-15 Star
British War Medal
Inter-Allied Victory Medal
Delhi Durbar Medal
Long Service & Good Conduct Medal

Frederick was born in 1878 and enlisted with the 6th Dragoons on the 12th October 1898 having previosuly served with the 3rd (militia) Battalion, South Staffordshire Regiment. He extended his service in 1904 to complete eight years with the colours. extended aagain in 1906 to complete 12 years with the colours and then re-engaged in May 1910 to complete 21 years. By the time he was discharged in November 1919 he had soldiered in South Africa, Egypt, India and France and Flanders. He had three children, all born in India, two of whom died in infancy.

Frederick Allsopp's DCM was gazetted on the 26th June 1918. His son, a veteran of the Second World War, is now hoping to find his father's medals. Please contact me if you can help.

20 December 2016

Philip Burman RIP

Very sorry to see that Philp Burman died on the 13th December at the age of eighty-four. I never met him but I have bought medals from him and he was well respected in the medals trade.  The photo on this post appears on Philip's site - http://www.military-medals.co.uk/ - which notes that the business has been closed until further notice. RIP Philip Burman.

18 December 2016

The Great War Medal Collector's Companion

I see that my old mate Howard Williamson is selling his essential three-volume Great War Medal Collector's set at bargain prices via eBay. Volumes I and III are being offered at £25 and volume II at £20. These would normally cost £150 for all three and so this really is a give-away. Each volume is comprehensively illustrated and contains a wealth of information that really is not found anywhere else. For the medal collector I would argue that these volumes are as essential as British Battles & Medals and the annual Token Medal Yearbook. Here's the eBay link.

10 November 2016

Military Medal 1914-1920

Findmypast has added the Military Medal 1914-1920 to its growing collection of medals and citations. It has also re-organised medals into a single search under the title: Campaign, Gallantry & Long Service Medals & Awards.

Clicking on the link above will take you directly to the main search screen. Use the "Browse medal Type" filter to narrow down the search to a particular medal or medals.

The Military Medal 1914-1920 collection is the most comprehensively indexed version online and there has been a good deal of clean-up on the regiments that is missing from, for instance, the National Archives' version. Registration paper, schedule, reference, and gazette date have all been indexed and are all searchable fields using the "additional keywords" field on the main search screen.

And if you're quick, for this Remembrance Weekend only, all military records are completely free on Findmypast.

13 October 2016

34113 Pte Albert J Hall, 13th & 3rd Hussars

I recently picked up Albert Hall's First World War campaign medals and school attendance medals. The First World War medals are unremarkable but in cracking condition, as are the school medals which I had not seen before.  Together, I think they make an attractive display, and as the sale price was under £50 I thought they were also something of a bargain.

I don't know anything about Albert, and no service record survives for him. The school attendance medals, issued by London County Council, cover the period 1906 to 1911. Assuming that 1911 was the last year that Albert was at school, and assuming that he left school at the age of 14, a birth year of about 1896 or 1897 would seem reasonable.

Albert's regimental number with the 13th Hussars dates to between March and April 1917, although it is possible that he could have attested earlier under the Derby Scheme. Again, an enlistment year of 1917 suggest to me a younger man, maybe someone born in between 1897 and 1899.

The problem of course is that Albert Hall is a common name but there are potentially two candidates on the 1911 census: Albert Joseph Hall, a 15-year-old printer living with his parents in Hoxton and Albert Joseph Hall, a 12-year-old schoolboy living in Bow with his parents and three siblings. Of the two, and bearing in mind that in 1911, the fifteen year-old was working and not at school, I think that The Bow boy is the more likely candidate.  Then again, there is the possibility that Albert J Hall was only recorded as "Albert Hall" on the census return...

Either way, the collection of medals is uncommon and makes a nice addition to my own archive.

10 September 2016

Replica medals anyone?

I am often asked if I can recommend a good replica medals' provider. The honest answer is, I cannot.

By replica medals I mean replacement medals; copies of campaign and gallantry medals to replace originals that have been lost or sold over the years.

The truth of the matter is, I just cannot see any reason why anyone would want to go along this route. Neither would I advocate buying original medals which have had the recipient's details erased - neatly or otherwise. To me, that is vandalism and desecration which simply encourages more vandalism and desecration.

I rule out the replica/replacement/copy/fake - call them what you will - medals, simply because they are not the originals. Furthermore, from what I have seen, the vast majority look and feel awful.

For me, as a collector, I give myself two options: 

1. Post online appeals and create web pages for medals in the hope that one day someone might read that post or web page and recognise those same medals in their own collection
2. Buy identical contemporary medals

I recently purchased the campaign pair and Rifle Brigade cap badge to S-28524 Pte Leonard Thomas Bouchard. In due course these will go into a display for my great uncle, Rifleman John Frederick Nixon, who was killed in action in October 1918. Jack had attested under the Derby Scheme in 1915 and been mobilised in 1916 - so had Private Bouchard. The fact that the two men served in different battalions of the Rifle Brigade - albeit both service battalions - is irrelevant to me, although had I been more pedantic I might have held out for a closer medals-match.

Neither does it matter to me that when ultimately mounted in a display case alongside Jack's photo and identity tags, I will know that the medals next to him are not his. To me, displaying the medals of a contemporary is far preferable to displaying poor copies. For all the claims by medal companies, I have yet to see any produced with the toning that comes with decades of being hidden away in a drawer - as in the British War Medal example above. Buying another man's medals also enables me to take on another research project and to remember another man alongside Jack. Once the medals have been mounted I will record a brief service history on the back of the frame.

Finally there is the matter of cost. I note that one copy medal specialist by Royal Appointment, sells a First World War medal pair for a little over £55 (including VAT). The nasty modern shine on both medals comes free of charge. I paid £55 on eBay for the Bouchard pair, and furthermore have what looks like an authentic Rifle Brigade cap badge to boot. 

If Jack's medals ever do turn up I would of course remove Leonard Bouchard's pair and display these separately. Until that time though, I will be happy to honour both men's service for King and Country.

24 July 2016

Medals sought: 7896 Pte William Reid, 2nd A&S Highlanders

I completed some research for a client this week who would dearly love to trace her grandfather's medals and, if possible, a photograph of him. 

William Reid served with the Argyll & Sutherland Highlanders and was entitled to a QSA with clasps for Transvaal and South Africa 1902 (7896 W Reid) . He also served during the First World War and earned a 1914 Star (7896 Pte W Reid, 2nd A&S Highlanders) claiming his clasp and roses in May 1921, and the British War and Victory Medals (201536 Pte W Reid, A&S Highlanders).

William Reid was born in 1882 and served almost continuously in the regiment between 1900 and 1919 when he re-enlisted with the Royal Engineers (613164) presumably to complete 21 years and qualify for a pension. 

Please contact Heather Fuller at hmafuller001@hotmail.co.uk if you are able to assist.

29 May 2016

9738 Pte Richard Watling, KOYLI

I picked up another 1914 Star trio PoW group this morning to 9738 Pte Richard Watling, King's Own Yorkshire Light Infantry. There's plenty of research potential here, particularly as Richard's group also came with his son's Second World War medals.

Richard Watling was born in Heigham, Norwich on the 3rd February 1888 and joined the King's Own Yorkshire Light Infantry on the 11th June 1908. He was the son of William and Elizabeth Watling and by 1891 was the second youngest of seven children.

He entered France with the 2nd KOYLI on the 14th August 1914 and, according to his entry in the 1914 Star medal roll, was captured on the 30th December 1914. This is clearly incorrect as he appears on my Princess Mary tin database of men captured up to and including the 25th December 1914 and, furthermore, was reported as missing in The Times list published on the 26th October. He was certainly held at Sennelager PoW camp for some of his time in captivity and was repatriated in 1918, arriving at Hull on the 27th November. He was discharged on the 23rd March 1919.

By the time the 1939 Register was taken, Richard was living with his wife Maud (nee Parker) and two sons, Richard Herbert Arthur Watling (1920-1985) and Reginald D Watling (1924-1991) at 19 Salford Street, Norwich.

Richard Watling died on the 3rd May 1964 at the age of 76, probate of £1184 being granted to his son, Richard, insurance agent. At the time of his death his home address was recorded as 17 Woodcock Close, Norwich.

1 May 2016

Liverpool Pals and Sportsmen

The London Medal Company has some nice items on this week's list. There are a couple of Liverpool Pals badges up for grabs, as well as the nice 24th Royal Fusiliers (2nd Sportsmen's) tribute medal below.

I don't suppose these will be around for very long. The Liverpool Pals' badge in particular would make a nice addition to a medal group to an original battalion member.

14 March 2016

Delhi Durbar re-unite

Here's a potentially nice re-unite for a Delhi Durbar medal with a 1914 Star and Victory Medal. eBay has the Delhi Durbar medal for 2nd Lt Geoffrey Dyett Abbott, 1st Connaught Rangers, who would later be killed in action on 2nd November 1914.

Geoffrey Dyett Abbott was born at Srinagar, India, on 12 October 1891, the son of Colonel Frank Abbott, 37th Lancers and a grandson of Lieutenant-General H. D. Abbott, C.B., and of Major-General J. C. Berkeley, C.I.E. He was educated at Cheltenham College and the Royal Military College, Sandhurst. He was gazetted to the Connaught Rangers in March 1911 and served with the 1st Battalion in India. Promoted to Lieutenant in June 1914, he entered the France/Flanders theatre of war on 26 September 1914. He was killed in action at Laventie, France, on 2 November 1914. His company commander sent the following account of the circumstances: ‘On the 2nd instant [November, 1914] we went to relieve the 2nd Gurkhas and came under rather heavy fire crossing an open place. It was in the above open place he was killed.’ Geoffrey Abbott was buried in the Royal Irish Rifles Graveyard at Laventie.

Lt Abbott's 1914 Star and Victory Medal were sold by Dix Noonan Webb in March 2010 for £460 (estimate £200-£250) and the italicised text above is from the DNW site.

6 March 2016

Loved to death, battered, brooched

Sold today on eBay, this Indian Mutiny Medal and sometime brooch, originally awarded to Robert Smith of the 71st Highlanders. It was sold for £125, a bargain to some and a waste of £125 to others, depending on where you sit when it comes to medals that have obvious damage and/or a history.

I was watching this, interested as much as anything, to see what the final price would be. I like the medals I buy to be in as good a condition as possible and so I don't have obviously damaged medals in my collection. Nevertheless, I can see the merits of buying medals like this one, although I would probably have preferred to purchase it in its secondary brooched status. These re-purposed medals are not uncommon and have the advantage of being, for the most part, quite reasonable to acquire. I suppose an undamaged Indian Mutiny Medal to this regiment would fetch around £400, but I quite like Victoria's facial scars, and the impressed naming in the usual roman capitals, is both lovely and unblemished.

All in all then, I would say that this is a good buy, although I can't imagine that researching the recipient, Robert Smith, will be an easy task.

21 January 2016

Charles Stanley George Ralph - where's the QSA?

3857 Pte Charles Stanley George Ralph, 4th (Royal Irish) Dragoon Guards; later 5101 Pte, 6th (Inniskilling) Dragoons was born in Wandsworth, London and was a butcher by trade when he enlisted in London on the 15th July 1891. His stated age was 18 years and two months which suggests that he was born around May 1873. His birth though, was registered in the third quarter of 1874 and the 1881 census also records him as a six year old. He was thus probably 17 years old when he enlisted, and not 18.

Charles enlisted for a period of seven years with the colours and five years on the reserve albeit, according to clause 18a, “if, at the termination of such period of Army Service, you are serving beyond the seas, then for the first eight years in the Army Service and for the remaining four years in the 1st Class of the Army Reserve.” He indicated at the time of his attestation that he wished to serve with the 4th Dragoon Guards.

He served with the regiment in India from September 1894 until February 1899, earning the India Medal 1895 with clasps for the Punjab Frontier 1897-98 and Tirah 1897-98 in the process. He was transferred to the Army Reserve in February 1899 but recalled to the colours that same November when he was transferred to the 6th (Inniskilling Dragoons). He subsequently served in South Africa and added two more campaign medals to his collection. He was discharged to the Army Reserve for a second time in August 1902 and finally discharged on the 14th July 1903, exactly twelve years after he had first enlisted.

Charles Ralph's QSA and KSA appeared in a collectors' sale auction at Truro Auction Centre on the 23rd May 2014 (lot 582). However, the KSA had already appeared, on its own as item 651 at the same Truro Auction Centre on 7th March 2014. QC Militaria subsequently had the QSA up for sale in July 2015.

I'm at a loss to understand how the KSA appeared as a single medal two months before both medals were offered, and also, of course, why the medals were split after being together for over a hundred years. There also remains the matter of the missing India Medal 1895-1902. If anyone knows of the whereabouts of the QSA and IM, or can offer an explanation for the sequence of events above, please leave a comment or contact me directly via the research tab. A client in Australia holds the KSA - or at least a KSA with Charles Ralph's details impressed.

The photograph on this page is an edited compilation of images which appear on Dix Noonan Webb's website.

17 January 2016

Baltic Medal


Granted to officers and men of the Royal Navy and Royal Marines for operations in the Baltic against Russia at the same time as the Crimean War. One hundred and six medals were also issued to men serving with the Royal Sappers and Miners (British Battles and Medals lists these men by name).

36mm diameter silver medal. The obverse portrays the diademed head of Queen Victoria, the legend VICTORIA REGINA. The reverse depicts Britannia seated, holding a trident. Behind her are the fortresses of Bomarsund and Sveaborg. The word BALTIC is above, with the dates 1854-1855 in the exergue. The obverse of the medal had been designed by William Wyon RA (1795-1851) and the reverse by his son Leonard Charles Wyon (1826-1891).

33mm wide; yellow with blue edges.

An ornamental swivelling suspender.

Medals were issued unnamed except those to the Royal Sappers and Miners. These medals were impressed in block capitals.


Image courtesy of Dix Noonan Webb.

14 November 2015

Indian Mutiny Medal - Defence of Lucknow


Not for the first time, seeing a desirable item appear on a stock list had me thinking, "if only I had [in this case] £1875 to spare..." I would love an Indian Mutiny Medal with the Defence of Lucknow clasp. At this point in time I only possess one IM medal and that's to Colour Sergeant John Keatinge of the 1/8th Foot who has clasps for Lucknow and Defence of Lucknow; a man I have researched quite extensively and who spent many years in India, ultimately dying there in 1872.

But this medal from the London Medal Company Ltd is particularly attractive to me at this point in time because I have just finished reading (again) William Forbes-Mitchell's Reminiscences of the Great Mutiny 1857-9, which must be one of the best, if not the best, Other Rank account of soldiering in Queen Victoria's army; and I am also dipping in and out of A Lady's diary of the Siege of Lucknow.

Father Christmas, if you're listening, I'd like medals this year please, not more socks and after-shave.

25 October 2015

1914 PoWs - lists for sale

I have started selling transcriptions of my lists of men who were captured prior to December 1914. You can read more about this project on my 1914 PoWs page. Rolls cost from £10 each; a bargain really when you consider how much information there is on many of them. I have published partial information for some of the regiments; full list follows. Drop me a line for more information.

I can't recall now, from where I obtained the photograph of Pte James Mowat of the 1st Gordons (above). My apologies if I have infringed any copyright.

Royal Artillery
Royal Garrison Artillery
Royal Field Artillery

Household Cavalry

1st Life Guards
2nd Life Guards
Royal Horse Guards (The Blues)

Line Cavalry

3rd (King's Own) Hussars
4th (Queen's Own) Hussars
7th Hussars
8th Hussars
10th (PWO) Hussars
11th (Prince Albert's Own) Hussars
13th Hussars
14th (King's) Hussars
15th Hussars
18th Royal Hussars (Queen Mary's Own)
19th Hussars
20th Hussars

1st (King's) Dragoon Guards
2nd Dragoon Guards
3rd Dragoon Guards
4th Dragoon Guards
5th Dragoon Guards
6th Dragoon Guards
7th Dragoon Guards

1st Dragoons
2nd Dragoons
5th Dragoons
6th Dragoons

5th Lancers
9th Lancers
12th Lancers
16th Lancers
17th Lancers

Foot Guards

Grenadier Guards
Coldstream Guards
Scots Guards
Irish Guards

Infantry (Line and Territorial Force)

Argyll & Sutherland Highlanders
Bedfordshire Regiment (173 named individuals)
Black Watch (Royal Highlanders) (53 named individuals)
Border Regiment
Buffs (East Kent Regiment)
Cameron Highlanders
Cheshire Regiment
Connaught Rangers
Dorsetshire Regiment (390 named individuals)
Durham Light Infantry (184 named individuals)
East Lancashire Regiment
East Surrey Regiment
Essex Regiment (44 named individuals)
Gloucestershire Regiment
Gordon Highlanders (806 named individuals)
Hampshire Regiment
Highland Light Infantry
King's (Liverpool Regiment)
King's Own (Royal Lancaster Regiment) (221 named individuals)
King's Own Scottish Borderers
King's Own Yorkshire Light Infantry
King's Royal Rifle Corps
Lancashire Fusiliers
Leicestershire Regiment
Leinster Regiment
Lincolnshire Regiment
London Regiment (Territorial Force)
Loyal North Lancashire Regiment (509 named individuals)
Manchester Regiment
Middlesex Regiment (397 named individuals)
Norfolk Regiment (215 named individuals)
North Staffordshire Regiment
Northamptonshire Regiment
Northumberland Fusiliers (152 named individuals)
Ox and Bucks Light Infantry
Queen's (Royal West Surrey Regiment) (425 named individuals)
Rifle Brigade (304 named individuals)
Royal Berkshire Regiment
Royal Dublin Fusiliers
Royal Fusiliers (247 named individuals)
Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers
Royal Irish Rifles
Royal Munster Fusiliers
Royal Scots
Royal Scots Fusiliers
Royal Sussex Regiment (26 named individuals)
Royal West Kent Regiment (158 named individuals)
Scottish Rifles
Seaforth Highlanders
Sherwood Foresters
Somersetshire Light Infantry (186 named individuals)
South Lancashire Regiment (342 named individuals)
South Staffordshire Regiment
South Wales Borderers
Suffolk Regiment (621 named individuals)
Wiltshire Regiment (686 named individuals)

Other Corps

Army Service Corps
Military Mounted Police
Royal Army Medical Corps
Royal Army Ordnance Corps
Royal Engineers

Royal Navy

20 September 2015

Harpers online

There are some nice medal groups on the recently re-vamped Harpers website, and if medals aren't particularly your thing, or if you're looking for that unusual gift for someone special, there are other categories guaranteed to tempt.

Site-owner and man behind Harpers, Jon Murphy, has just introduced a newsletter as a means of keeping in touch and you can subscribe to it on the site. I was pleased to be asked contribute an article to the first issue which means that it's bound to become a collectors' item in the not too distant future. Subscribe now by following the instructions at the bottom of the home page.

14 September 2015

27079 Sapper William Henry Butt, L Signal Coy, Royal Engineers

I picked up this broken group at the DNW auction last week. I don't usually buy broken groups but I like medals awarded to the original BEF and besides, this one included a Medaille Militaire, albeit with most of the enamel missing from the face.

As DNW were quick to point out, the clasp on the 1914 Star isn't verified but I'm guessing that William was entitled to wear it and picked up a copy from a local tailor. As for the man himself, the book, Honours & Awards to the Old Contemptibles confirms the Medaille Militaire award and notes SR (or Special Reserve) next to William's name. This is interesting because his regimental number does not belong to the Special Reserve series and dates to around April 1913.

I have not yet confirmed William's entitlement to the Defence Medal but he was entitled to the Queen's South Africa Medal and King's South Africa Medal, having served in South Africa as 4607 Sapper William H Butt from June 1900 until September 1902. He received the usual three state clasps on his QSA and the usual two date clasps on his KSA, all of which means that the three silver medals from this group are missing and could well have been scrapped several decades ago. But if they do still survive, and the owner wishes to part with them, please do get in touch.

William was the son of Thomas and Maria Butt and was born in Portland, Dorset in 1872. He married Annie Florence Legg in Dorchester in 1903 and a son, Kenneth Butt, was born on the 31st January 1911. I have not yet confirmed a death date for William.

Photo courtesy of Dix Noonan Webb.

5 September 2015

42138 Sgt Frederick Hussey, MM

I picked up this MM for a couple of hundred euros at a brocante in France the other week. Nothing wrong with the medal itself which appears to be genuine, it's the naming and the entitlement which is questionable.
The medal is named to 42138 SGT F. HUSSEY 2/4 D.W.R
Therein lies the first problem. There is no 42138 Sgt Hussey. I checked the usual medal rolls and service records and came up with 42168 Sergeant Frederick Hussey. He has surviving service papers and he did serve with the 2/4th Duke of Wellington's (West Riding Regiment), albeit not until 1919 after he had volunteered for a year's service with the Army of Occupation:
There is no mention on his service papers of an MM award and his name does not appear in "For Bravery in the Field" or in the London Gazette. At this point in time then, I suspect that for whatever reason, a genuine MM was obtained and re-named (although I have yet to measure the medal with calipers to confirm this).
Hussey himself had a long service history having originally joined the Leicestershire Regiment in 1886 (having seen prior service with the Royal Berkshire Regiment militia). His First World War attestation papers note 24 years' service with the 1st Leicestershire Regiment and the Royal Fusiliers and record his age in May 1915 as 44 years and six months (although according to his original 1886 papers he was born around July 1878 and therefore would have been closer to 47 years old). He saw service with the 12th, 16th and 22nd battalions of the Durham Light Infantry as well as the Training Reserve and the 53rd (Young Soldiers) Battalion of the KOYLI. He was, it would appear, a soldier through and through and so whilst the provenance of the MM may be questionable, I'm still pleased with the purchase.  If anyone can add to Frederick Hussey's story, please drop me a line.
Service record screenshot courtesy of The National Archives.

2 August 2015

15669 Pte Robert Chapman, 1st Grenadier Guards - PoW

As a postscript to my February 2014 about Grenadier Guardsman Robert Chapman, I discovered, quite by accident this morning, that he was also a Prisoner of War. Many men taken prisoner of war in 1914 have this information recorded on their medal index cards. However, the practice is not universal and neither is the year or date of capture usually mentioned. Grenadier Guards medal index cards are not annotated with this information and it was only when I was looking at my database of 1914 Other Rank PoWs earlier this morning that I noticed Robert Chapman was on that list.

According to British records he was captured on the 27th October 1914, although German records note that he was taken prisoner on the 26th. Either way, it's a nice discovery for me and makes this interesting group even more appealing.

6 July 2015

The London Medal Company goes Greek

Lots of Greek items on the London Medal Company's latest list. Presumably the banks there have been having a clear-out. As well as groups which are wholly comprised of Greek awards (as in the example above), there are also groups with a British interest such as the example below which was awarded to a Greek-born interpreter. Presumably the expression, "It's all Greek to me" did not apply in this instance.

Images courtesy The London Medal Company.