21 September 2011

I like it; I like it a lot

Howard Williamson's The Great War Medal Collectors Companion, that is. My copy (number 518) arrived yesterday; £50 from The National Archives' online bookshop and jam-packed with illustrations.

I've hardly had time to do the book justice so far but I know that I will be returning to it again and again. There is a good chapter on the medal index cards but I do question one point where Howard is quoting from Joe Hodgson's article in the OMRS Journal of Spring 1988. Speculating on TF numbers on MICs pre March 1917, Joe had observed that:

"men with low numbers [ie original numbers rather then the five or six-digit re-numbered numbers] on their [1914 or 1914/15] Stars are soldiers who were killed, discharged, POWs, transferred or commissioned before 1st March 1917".

The bold text is mine. Surely POWs would have been renumbered wouldn't they? They were still on the regimental rolls, just as men who were missing but not officially confirmed as Killed or Died were still on the rolls. The latter were re-numbered, surely the POWs would have been as well, wouldn't they? I don't have evidence to back this up but I'm sure somebody can confirm or deny this.

Two pages later Howard notes that the TP/104 B code on William Reader's MIC indicates London and the Royal Fusiliers whereas the MIC records KRRC and 4th London Regiment. But of course, the 4th London Regiment was the 4th (City of London) Battalion, The London Regiment (Royal Fusiliers) and the CWGC notes that he was serving with the 2/4th Battalion when he died, even though his number - GS/84154 on the MIC, G/84154 according to CWGC - belongs not to the TF but to the regular Royal Fusiliers Regiment.

But it's a great book, and a must-have not only for Great War Medal Collectors (which I'm not, really; or at least only marginally) but for anybody with an interest in the Great War and British military history generally. I also happen to think that £50, or even £60 for that matter, is a price well worth paying for such a well produced item.

Photo courtesy of The Daily Telegraph.

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