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War Memorials

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Battle Clasps

The issuing of battle clasps was proposed and a committee composed of representatives of the three services drew up a list of 36 wartime and 8 post-war naval clasps for consideration.  However this was dropped a year later due to cost and the length of time it would take to examine each recipient’s claim.

 

However, the agreed naval battle clasps were privately produced in a miniature version for wearing on the miniature dress version of the medal.  They include:

 

Single ship actions

Cap Trafalgar 14 Sept 1914

Emden 9 Nov 1914

21 April 1917

Leopard 16 March 1916

Konigsberg July 1915

 

 

General actions at sea.

Heligoland 8 Aug 1914

Falkland Islands 8 Dec 1914

Dogger Bank 24 Jan 1915

Jutland 31 May 1916

 

Actions in a particular area at sea between 1914-1918.

Home Seas 1914

Narrow Seas 1914

Arctic 1914

North Sea 1914

Mediterranean 1914

Baltic 1914

These were intended to show the year of service e.g. the bar could be Home Seas 1914, Home Seas 1915 etc., up to 1918.

 

Actions in conjunction with allied land forces.

German East Africa

German SW Africa

Pacific Islands

Mesopotamia

Red Sea

Cameroons

 

Actions against enemy land forces

Dardanelles

Gallipoli

Gallipoli Landing

Suez Canal

Ostend 10 May 1918

Zeebrugge, Ostend

Belgian Coast

Tsingtau

 

Specialist services

Submarines

‘Q’ Ships

Minelaying

Minesweeping

Marmora S/Ms

Baltic S/Ms

Heligoland Bight S/Ms

- - -

(S/Ms meaning submarines)

 

Post-war operations.

Black Sea

Caspian

Eastern Baltic 1918-19

Mine Clearance 1918-19

Russia

Serbia

Serbia 1918-19

North Russia 1918-19

 

One can only speculate on the vast number of army clasps that could have been produced if every land battle and campaign were commemorated in this way.

 

Single entitlement to the British War Medal:

British War Medal was usually always issued with the accompanying Victory Medal.  However, as qualifying service had to be overseas but not necessarily in a theatre of war, it could be awarded singularly.  Also, some organisations were only entitled to a singular award, even if they served in a theatre of war.

 

Examples of this single entitlement include the following:

  • 1)      Service in India, Malta, Gibraltar or other non-combatant stations.
  • 2)      Naval Reservists who were called up but did not serve at sea.
  • 3)      Men of the 18th Durham Light Infantry, who were the garrison battalion during the German naval attack on Hartlepool, Whitby and Scarborough in December 1914.
  • 4)      Volunteers in civilian religious organisations serving overseas, such as the YMCA or Church Army.
  • 5)      Anti-aircraft gun crews stationed in the UK who actually engaged enemy Zeppelins or aircraft.
  • 6)      Certain RFC/RAF ground crew stationed in the UK (brought to my attention by a fellow collector, but unconfirmed).
  • 7)      Service personnel wounded during air raids in the UK (again this is unconfirmed).
  • 8)      Dominion and Imperial military personnel training or being stationed in the UK but not actually serving in a theatre of war.
  • 9)      Serving solely in certain post war theatres, such as mine clearance up until 1919/20.
  • 10)  Those engaged on trawler and fishery work around the shores of the UK.
  • 11)  French and Belgians who had rendered assistance to British soldiers trapped behind enemy lines and secret agents working in the occupied regions.

 

The BRITISH WAR MEDAL - Medal naming to the recipient:

The recipient’s number, rank, name and unit is impressed in capitals around the rim, but not ship for naval personnel, except for the New Zealand Navy.  The regiment is omitted in the case of officers, except for the Royal Artillery and Royal Navy.  Civilians attached to the Navy and who served at sea had the words, 'SERVICE WITH THE ROYAL NAVY' impressed after their name, though this is not always the case.

 

Officially the regiment or corps impressed on the medal rim was that which the recipient was serving in on first embarkation to the theatre of war.  Thus a man who served with the Army Service Corp in 1915, and later transferred to the Machine Gun Corps, would have ASC on all subsequent campaign medals.  The exception to this was where men transferred between the three services; hence a man could have ASC on his 1914 or 1914-15 Star and Royal Marines on his British War Medal and Victory Medal.

 

The rank inscribed is the highest the recipient attained during service overseas prior to the armistice.  It is therefore common to find a trio of medals to the same man where the rank on the 1914-15 Star is to a Private and on the British War Medal and Victory Medal to an officer.

 

Note that the post of Lance Corporal is in fact an appointment and not a rank and if the holder were killed or taken prisoner he reverted to the rank of Private.  It is therefore not uncommon to find a 1914 or 1914-15 Star inscribed with Lance Corporal, whereas the corresponding British War Medal and Victory Medal are engraved with Private.

 

Medals that just bear the recipient’s first and surname in full, or first name, initial(s) and surname in full are usually to members of the Mercantile Marine.  Those that just bear an initial(s) and last name are usually to civilian volunteers in semi-official organisation or French or Belgian agents.  However, though this rule is generally correct, I have seen a few British War Medal / Mercantile Marine War Medal pairs that just bear the initials and surname

(The above also applies to the VICTORY MEDAL which will be discussed in Part 3)

 

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