The Minute Book
Wednesday, 24 July 2013

Glyn Llanwarne – The Australian "Medal Rescuer"
Topic: Medals

In Australian there is a gentleman, Lieutenant Colonel Glyn Llanwarne, OAM, who is also a "medal rescuer." LtCol Llanwarne's commendable approach to this activity is best describe in his own words:

"Since 2000 I have been acquiring, researching and then returning lost medals to veterans or their families. I started out purchasing medals, however, now I am supported through donations of found medals. I now use all my resources for research and trying to locate families. I do this free of any charge or fee. Over the last few years many people have asked me to set up a forum or have a method of asking questions so that the information can be shared. I think that this is the easiest way. My web site will remain the prime method of advertising the current list of medals I am researching. You can contact me at llanwarne80 at hotmail dot com"

Notably, LtCol Llanwarne started out using his own funds to purchase medals he felt had a good chance of being reurned to families. More recently, his endeavours are supported by donations, but are not built on the expectation that the potential recipient family being expected to pay for the medals.

In May 2012, LtCol Llanwarne was awarded the Medal of the Order of Australia in the 2012 Australia Day Honours.

"For service to veterans and their families through the recovery of military insignia."

Lost Medals Australia

Latest count - Reunited 1079 medals to families and relatives

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Updated: Tuesday, 23 July 2013 11:55 PM EDT
Thursday, 27 June 2013

Medal Rescuers; Beware the Method
Topic: Medals

On a popular medal collecting forum, there are occasional discussions about "medal rescuers," those who identify medals available on the market and take steps to see them returned to what they believe are fitting recipients, ideally family or, if no family can be found, an appropriate museum or special interest group. The underlying context, of course, is that medals are being "rescued" from those " scum-of-the-earth" collectors and dealers. In the discussions found on line, two types of medal rescuers are referred to, usually with a specific individual in mind for each type as they appear in the news. Both types of medal rescuers rely on media (newspapers, television news, etc.) to help them seek the eventual receivers, but it is also here that they diverge completely in style and results.

One type of medal rescuer acquires medals with their own funds, seeking to do so at fair market value, or even below that with the agreement of the seller that finding the family, if anyone remains, is their intent. Only after acquiring the medal is the search for family publicized. In this way the medals can be transferred to the family at that same cost, or as a gracious donation to an appropriate museum or charitable cultural organization. These rescuers risk their own funds and, when a search is unsuccessful, accept that they are the newest custodian of that soldier's medals and memory. These rescuers buy medals and, only after acquiring them, do they seek a family or appropriate resting place for them. They choose the pace and direction of the search, and the final destination is under their control. Kevin McCormick, the Honourary Lieutenant Colonel of the Irish Regiment of Canada, does this.

The second type of rescuer uses a very different tactic. They identify the medals being sold, establish a connection to a locality for a targeted media campaign, and then, with the help of cooperative reporters, push the story to the public. These stories always include the need for haste, in order to close an auction that may be running for only seven days. These restrictive timelines place pressure on families, if found, or museums or special interest groups to react quickly, often compounded by added public pressure that something be done. Without time to research either the recipient or the market value of the offered medals to determine if money will be responsibly spent, families of groups may be pushed into making poor decisions and bidding wars. But none of that matters to the medal rescuer, each deal closed on behalf of a family or group that has promised to pay, no matter what the final bid might be, is a victory, no matter how Pyrrhic in hindsight. After all, the rescuer is bidding to win, but not with his own money. Dave Thomson does this.

In one very notable case, a single medal to a Canadian soldier was purchased by a charitable organization through a medal rescuer for a grossly inflated price. That medal had a market value of $100 to $200, the lower price point already recognizing the collectability of the soldier's unit, the second assuming two or more collectors were vying for it. As a result of media attention, the direct or indirect alerting of competing cultural institution or individuals all seeking to "save" the medal from collectors, the final sale price was over $7400 dollars.

So who takes the blame. In the minds of those who felt that this was truly a "rescue," it is the seller that must be evil for making such profit. But the seller only listed the medal, with an appropriate low starting bid. After that, he did nothing but watch the climbing bids in an open market on-line auction. The seller did not contact the media. The seller did not contact special interest groups or charitable causes. The seller did not create an air of urgency that obliterated common sense and pause for research. Once attention was focused and bidding reached outrageous proportions, the seller could do nothing, even stopping the auction would have resulting in criticism, perhaps implying that he had sold the medal off-line to a private bidder, thus hazarding his reputation as a seller in that on-line marketplace. The seller's hands were tied by the process that overtook his sale.

So, who ran that process? The medal rescuer initiated it. The media fostered it as a cause, one with an urgent need to be met by well-meaning citizens. And the citizens, either individually or through charitable organizations, responded. Well-meaning perhaps, but surely as thoroughly misled by that pace and process.

There were hundreds of medals to Canadians on ebay that month. Why that particular medal. The soldier's unit is one that evokes sentimental feelings, a book has been written about them, and doing good for a worthy cause never falls short of gaining support. The rescuer and the media milked that angle for all it was worth and let momentum take its course. As soon as the media spotlight turns on a particular auction, there's no guessing where it will go. Other medals to soldiers of that unit have sold since at market values without the media attention. Perhaps it was a well-intentioned plan, but the way it was executed in the public eye, with emotional media support derailed any good intentions in the result. Yet somehow we always seem to see the "rescuer" lauded, even when a charitable organization has to raise $7400 for a $200 medal.

The following, quoted on the British Medal Forum, was part of the Wikipedia article on No. 2 Construction Battalion, it has since been edited to a much less detailed sentence.

"In February 2007, the First World War Victory Medal to 931309 Sapper PR. P.F. of the 2nd Construction Battalion was put up for auction on eBay. This auction caught the attention offenton self-proclaimed medal "rescuer" Dave Thompson of St. George, Ontario. Having brought the attention of the media and special interest groups upon this auction, the medal, which should realistically have sold in the $100-200 (Cdn) range, ended up closing at a price of over $7,400 (Cdn).

"This price was not, however, paid by Mr. Thompson (sic) who placed the winning bid, but was left to the Black Cultural Centre in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, to raise donations in order to cover this extremely high medal price. Without the attention his effort brought to this auction, the Black Cultural Centre should have been able to purchase the medal for a small fraction of the cost he made them responsible to raise."

There's certainly nothing wrong with wanting to see medals returning to families who have gained a renewed understanding of their importance, or to appropriate museums and cultural organizations. As they say say, the devil is in the details, and here it is in the technique. Not everyone agrees with the medal rescuer's method described above.

What are the alternatives?, you may ask.

One possibility is to take a more altruistic approach, as shown above.

Another alternative for the medal rescuer who doesn't wish to spend their own money is keeping a low profile. Discover a medal (that part is as easy as searching ebay for Canadian medal). Identify a likely recipient community, museum, cultural organization of family. Choose a limited number of contacts, so as to not initiate a bidding war between them, and with complete openness including letting them know who else you are speaking to, inform them of the opportunity. Then let them decide their next action, and let them bid if they want to, up to the limit they feel they can responsibly afford.

This approach avoids bidding wars fomented by media attention. It also means those responsible for the money are doing their own bidding, instead of making promises to pay whatever it takes to win, with a "rescuer" bidding solely to have the top bid. But, perhaps the downside for the "medal rescuer" is that they don't get interviewed for the paper. They don't get lauded as a "rescuer" as the hand an overpriced medal to the proud recipient that must now pay for it. In particular, when that recipient is a charitable organization that has been pressured into the transaction by media attention and public cries for action, how else might they have spent that money in accordance with the priories they had already set. What deeper costs might have been paid to sustain the medal rescuer's ego?

If you want to join a "medal rescue" event, please do so with open eyes and an awareness of how it's being conducted. The actual outcomes may not be as praiseworthy as the media campaign might imply.

Canadian Army Battle Honours

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Updated: Tuesday, 10 April 2018 6:16 PM EDT
Thursday, 6 June 2013

Vilify Not the Collector
Topic: Medals

Recently I displayed part of my own collection of medals in public. One observer felt it appropriate to state how dismayed he was to see dealers at the event profiting from the buying and selling of medals. But at the same time, my type of collection was "all right" because I researched the soldiers and displayed their stories along with the medals. So, which is it? Is it okay to collect, research and display medals, but not to buy and sell them? How, exactly, does one accomplish the former without engaging in the latter?

As a dedicated collector to a very narrow theme (medals to soldiers of a single regiment with a main focus on one war), I simply don't have time to be available in multiple places in case a family member brings a medal in for sale, or to watch dozens of militaria shows and auctions, or to advertise my specific desires in hopes that I can find matching first order sellers. Instead, I must rely upon, and I welcome the participation of, dealers who do all of those things. They deal in medals with a generalist intent, resorting the items they gather and enabling me to pick and choose the single items that match my theme, as they similarly provide for the collecting desires of hundreds or thousands of other theme based collectors. Without the great support of dealers, some of who become friends and will contact specific collectors directly when they receive something they know fits a unique collection, I, for one, could never have amassed the modest collection I have and display. The dealers, those so-called "profiteers," are an essential part of this collective endeavour called medal collecting that leads to the preservation and research of individual medals by collectors.

There always seems to be someone ready to denigrate the collector of military medals. "Profiting off their honour," they'll say, or "dishonouring the heroes." Sometimes, it's snide remarks inferring that the medals held by collectors must have been received via nefarious means, either stolen from families or swindled from poor widows. Collectors have even been called the "scum of the earth" by a Canadian Member of Parliament. With no open debate to counter his one-sided views, he even extended this opinion to the repetitive introduction of a Private Member's Bill to outlaw the sale of medals entirely. All of this is blatantly wrong in fact and tone; but held with such conviction that it openly displays the speaker's ignorance and offers little opportunity for rational debate. Once a critic has linked medal collecting to some sort of "sinful" profiteering, it is apparently a small leap to accuse any collector of somehow dishonouring the memory of those recipient soldiers, sailors, and airmen. This too, is one of those arguments they can never quite develop into a rational and complete argument when asked to do so. How exactly, they might be asked, does a collector spending hundreds or thousands of dollars to acquire, preserve and research the recipient of a medal group constitute dishonouring that recipient? The collector will often spend further time and money to remount the group for display, acquire research material and bring together the recipient's story (often for the first time), and go out of their way to find opportunities to share their work with others. That research is time and money spent that cannot be recovered and does not increase the value of the group. Significantly, it is work done at a level by very few Museums or other institutions which acquire medals, and exceedingly rarely done by institutions for "common soldiers."

"No family would ever give up such valuable treasures, surely they've been stolen before being sold into the market." Have medals ever been stolen and sold to unknowing dealers or collectors? Most certainly. Have collectors ever discovered stolen items in their collection and had to give them up as evidence without recompense? Yes, that has happened too. Does this mean that any significant portion of the medals in collectors hands were stolen. Certainly not! Watching medal sales on ebay will occasionally reveal an auction where that seller admits that the medals they are selling were their father's or grandfather's, in which they have no interest.

Just because someone treasures their own grandfather's medals and would never give them up is no grounds to assume that anyone else will, or that everyone else should, hold their own ancestors' medals in the same regard. Any number of things might motivate an heir to sell medals, whether that be a simple preference for the monetary return, disinterest in what they stand for, feeling no personal connection to the relative that had received them, etc. The medals might only be one more thing handed to the auctioneer when Aunt Mabel's apartment is cleared out after her death. If someone has no personal interest in the medals, they are unlikely to expend any time or effort to send them to an appropriate museum. And if there are bills to pay for a funeral, a thousand-dollar medal group may be one of the few artifacts in Aunt Mabel's apartment that will help cover that cost. Alternatively, if the sale of medals were banned, and an auctioneer stated they were unsellable, how many would then land in a dumpster with the rest of the rejected items as that heir worked with only the desire to be rid of everything in mind. In any case, there's no collector standing there ushering those medals into an auctioneer's or a dealer's hands. That decision nearly always starts with the last family member to hold them.

"Ban the sale of medals!" is an occasionally heard rally cry, one sometimes taken up by politicians seeking favour with constituents who might support such a measure. But this argument also is seldom fully developed; emotional cries for change seldom are. Should medals cease to be personal property, returned to the Crown on the death of the recipient? Would that not also prevent them passing to direct descendants? Or should families be required to register and retain them, releasing them only back to the Government to be held in an approved repository like a museum? How would we track such things, with a medal registry? What would we do with current collectors, seize their collections or grandfather them without allowance to resell ever?

Consider the likely outcomes of such a restriction. What would happen if we only allowed medals to be passed to museums? Consider the Canadian War Museum. That institution probably has thousands of medal groups in its holdings, but a tour of the Museum's galleries shows that mere dozens are on display, and almost every set is of a significant valour award recipient or has other notable historical connections within the particular gallery where it resides. So, if your grandfather won the Victoria Cross, your grandchildren might be able to visit the Museum that receives it and see his medals. If, on the other hand, he was awarded the standard First World War pair of medals for service in the Canadian Forestry Corps, rest assured they will be cataloged and placed carefully in a drawer along with many other pairs just like his. And it is unlikely they will ever see the light of day again, or have anyone dedicate hours or days to researching his story.

So,where does this leave us? Currently, it leaves us all depending upon the collecting community to value, preserve and research the bulk of surviving medals which are no longer in family hands. Medals to soldiers of the 25th Canadian Infantry Battalion will often find themselves in the hands of a collector who concentrates on that unit, perhaps because it was his own grandfather's unit. Is he not family, to all the soldiers of that unit? Does he not have a keen awareness of exactly what those medals stand for? Certainly he does, and much more so than the descendant of the recipient who found no personal desire to retain them.

While some collectors may hoard and keep secret their collections and the research they have gathered, often it is because they have found that tactic protects them from the very accusations identified above. But in this increasingly connected world, more collectors are speaking out and sharing the knowledge they have about individual recipients, about the units and battles they have researched, and about the techniques they use both to find information and to preserve and display their collections. Collectors build and share knowledge, among themselves, with inquirers about the soldiers and units they research, and with the public, increasingly through on-line forums and personal websites. Counter-intuitively to their detractors, and unlike some holders of family medals who have Grandfather's group proudly framed on the dining room wall (if not still hidden in the attic) and know no more than the shared stock of family stories, collectors add value through their own sense of community.

Vilify not the collector, for one of them might be preserving those family medals you are seeking, and which might no longer exist if collectors did not value these medals when heirs within the recipients' families did not.

As we approach the centenary of the First World War, we can expect a sudden increase in interest in ancestors who served, their medals and their stories. For those who plan to research an ancestor who served in the Great War, odds are that at some point you will be corresponding with a collector, or reading a book written by one.

Scum of the earth? Not exactly, Mr Stoffer, but given the origin of that phrase, perhaps we should take it as a compliment, for the men it orginally applied to were also vilified by public and politicians, up to the moment when their actions were recognized as achieving the greatest feats a nation could ask of them. But we collectors, Mr Stoffer, are not scum, and you sir, are no Arthur Wellesley.

Researching Canadian Soldiers of the First World War

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Updated: Tuesday, 22 December 2015 5:11 PM EST
Tuesday, 28 May 2013

Medal Collecting; To Clean or Not to Clean
Topic: Medals

The First World War trio of medals awarded to 477858 Private Joseph Smith of The Royal Canadian Regiment. With faded and fraying ribbons, the group remains in the condition it was in when Smith likely last wore them.

To clean or not to clean ... that is often the question that arises between medal collectors, and there's no single "right" answer. Some collectors take a hard line to one extreme or the other. They may be in the camp that says each medal or group should look like the soldier was about to wear it on parade. To them, taking pride in the medals to the same degree as the soldier would have is honouring their memory. Those with a diametrically opposing view feel justified in keeping the medals frozen in the moment and condition at which they were acquired. For them, the condition of medals is also part of their story, and they desire to protect that historical edge and honour the full history of the medals and the man.

Some medals are found in pristine condition, untouched and still in their mailing packets, never worn by a soldier who, if not deceased, could never bring himself to mount and wear them for his own very personal reasons. Others might be clean, well-mounted yet still in an "as worn" condition, showing the signs of respect from long years of prideful wear. They might have been remounted as ribbons wore out, and in many cases, an old soldier's polishing habit may have worn the finer details from the face and reverse of each disc and star.

Just as each soldier found his own reasons for the level of care he gave his medals, so each collector has to decide where they fall on the spectrum between "to clean" or "not to clean."

At one end of that spectrum you will find the "no clean" collectors proudly showing their collections with medals mounted "as [last] worn" by the original owners. You may find tattered ribbons, worn and faded from decades of wear at memorial occasions, even mismatched ribbons when remounted by inexpert hands, medals crowded on a too-small bar, or those which have been polished nearly smooth. From the 1960s we find examples where soldiers knew they were wearing down their medals from much polishing, and they might have decided to have their medals treated by the new electro-plating technologies that became available for individual items. This process might change the appearance of the medals from an as-issued state, but they remain as the soldier chose to wear them. For these collectors, cleaning solely to remove obviously out of place dirt, or damaging verdigris, become the extent of their treatment before adding them to their collection mounts.

At the opposite end of the spectrum you will find the "clean" camp. For some of these collectors, every medal deserves to be carefully restored as closely as possible to an as new condition. This might include new ribbons (preferably original silk … only original silks for some) and mounted exactly as the soldier would have worn them on parade in accordance with regulations.

In both camps, the two extremes actually being a poor representation of the broad spectrum of possibilities, you will find those who choose only silk ribbons over replacement polyester, and members considerd to be in either group might choose to mount medals in court mountings, carefully securing each medal in place, rather than the risks of additional edge-knock wearing when medals are mounted in traditional swing mounting (i.e., loose and dangling). Every combination of cleaning, ribbons, mounting, etc., is possible and each collector chooses their path … and sometimes change their usual routine to present specific examples in the best manner to tell part of the recipient's story.

Even when the decision is made to clean and shine medals, a collector needs to be careful, the approach that a soldier may have taken while serving (or after) may not be the best approach to clean and/or shine medals in a collection. Soldiers learn to use abrasive polishes like Brasso and Silvo which, while excellent at their tasks, are truly abrasive and this will show over the long run as medal surfaces are slowly worn down. Luckily for the modern collector, the least invasive method to shine medals is the use of a jeweler's dip to preserve the shine and minimize future requirements for handling or polishing. This, of course should be done while the medals are off their ribbons during a remounting operation.

A comparison of the discs of the Military Medals awarded to 477040 Sergeant Harry James Barlow, M.M. (rank of Private on medal) and 261628 Private Arthur Frederick Littlewood.

While well polished medals certainly provide evidence of a soldier who wore his medals often and with pride, the truly poignant ones are those that are in such good condition that they appear to have never been polished for wear. They can, perhaps, hide a story just as important but perhaps forever hidden from our research efforts. (Barlow transferred from The RCR to the RAF near the end of the War. Littlewood was medically released, having lost one arm and much of the use of the other, he lived until 1945.)

For Those Who Choose to Clean:

The Canadian Conservation Institute provides guidance on the care and cleaning of medals and other artifacts:

Basic Care

Basic information for the care and conservation of metal objects.

CCI Notes

CCI Notes deal with topics of interest to those who care for cultural objects. Intended for a broad audience, CCI Notes offer practical advice about issues and questions related to the care, handling, and storage of cultural objects. Many CCI Notes are illustrated, and provide bibliographies.

View all CCI Notes.

CCI Technical Bulletins and Other Print Publications

Technical Bulletins provide detailed information of a specialized technical nature about selected conservation and care-of-collections topics, current techniques and principles of conservation of use to curators and conservators of cultural artifacts.

Browse or buy other CCI Publications.

Other heritage or conservation institutions also offer useful advice or helpful information that may be relevant to the care and conservation of metal objects. These sites are external to CCI.

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Updated: Tuesday, 28 May 2013 12:30 AM EDT
Wednesday, 15 May 2013

The Queen's South Africa Medal
Topic: Medals

The Queen's South Africa Medal, awarded for service in the Second Boer War (1899-1902), was received by 3860 Canadians who served in Canada's Contingents to the British Army in South Africa.

The first production of these medals included the year dates on the reverse "1899-1900" since a short war was anticipated. While most of the medals produced with these dates were re-struck, leaving visible "ghost dates" on the back of the disc, at least 50 (and possibly as many as 300) were issued to the soldiers of the Lord Strathcona's Horse before the remaining medals were corrected.

Twenty-six clasps (a.k.a., bars) were authorized for the Queen's South Africa Medal, which vary between being commonly found on medals issued to Canadians to ones that are classed as "extremely rare" or "unknown." Clasps named for States were awarded to mark service within their boundaries and for the many smaller actions that individual clasps would have created too complex a system of clasps for the medal. Also issued were a number of clasps for specific battle or participation in operations within specific areas and time. Finally, there were also the theatre clasps "South Africa 1901" and "South Africa 1902" for service between dates for those not eligible for the subsequently issued King's South Africa medal. The Veterans Affairs Canada webpage for the for the medal lists as common clasp issued to Canadians, the following:

  • Four of the the five state clasps:
    • Cape Colony
    • Orange Free State
    • Natal
    • Transvaal
  • Area or Battle clasps:
    • Johannesburg
    • Belfast
    • Driefontein
  • Theatre clasps:
    • South Africa 1901
    • South Africa 1902

According to the medal collector's reference, the Medal Yearbook, at least four other clasps are known to be issued to Canadians, although other may be extant where individuals were attached to units other than their parent regiments at times during the war. The four identified clasps are:

  • Rhodesia (the fifth State clasp)
  • Relief of Mafeking
  • Paardeberg
  • Diamond Hill

To the VAC list of commonly issued clasps to Canadians, perhaps, should be added the clasp "Paardeberg", which was awarded to the soldiers of the 2nd (Special Service) Battalion of The Royal Canadian Regiment for its service at the defeat of the Boer General Piet Cronje in February, 1900, at Paardeberg Drift.

For those seeking more detailed information, the excellent British service medals reference "British Battles and Medals" provides descriptions of the eligibility requirements for each of the clasps for the Queen's South Africa medal.



Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Monday, 6 May 2013

North-West Canada Medal 1885
Topic: Medals

Militia General Orders
Ottawa, 18th September, 1885

G.O. No. 2 — For Service in the North-West in 1885.

The Minister of Militia and Defence has been informed through the Secretary to His Excellency the Governor General, that His Excellency has received intimation from the Imperial Secretary that an Imperial War Medal will be conferred upon the troops recently engaged in the suppression of the Rebellion in the North-West Territories.

In 1885, thousands of Canadian Militia soldiers, accompanied by a handful of Permanent Force (Regular Force) soldiers from "C" Company of the Infantry School Corps at Toronto, deployed west to suppress the Rebellion led by Louis Riel. To mark their service in the west, these soldiers were awarded the North West Canada medal.

5,650 North West Canada medals were issued, of which 16 went to British officers that served on the campaign. Of these, 1,753 soldiers were also eligible for the SASKATCHEWAN clasp (bar) for fighting at Fish Creek, Batoche, Cut Knife and/or Frenchman's Butte along the Saskatchewan River.

The North West Canada medal was issued to recipients unnamed, but many can be found named, either contracted privately by recipients, or with consistent naming among members of units indicating a common effort to have their medals impressed or engraved with the recipients' details.

Militia General Orders
Ottawa, 7th May, 1886

G.O. No. 2 — For Service in the North-West in 1885.

Adverting to No. 2 of General Orders (21) 18th September, 1885, these "War Medals" may be delivered to "next of kin" of deceased members who had become entitled to such. The Officer commanding the Corps, or other, entrusted with the delivery of medals to members of his Corps will satisfy himself that the person to whom he delivers the medal is "next of kin" to the party originally entitled to receive it, the receipt for the same to be so expressed.



Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Tuesday, 30 April 2013

The Military Medal (M.M.)
Topic: Medals

The original text of the Royal Warrant as published in the London Gazette authorisng the intitution of the Military Medal follows:


War Office,
5th April, 1916.

Royal Warrant Instituting a New Medal Entitled "The Military Medal."


GEORGE THE FIFTH, by the Grace of God of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland and of the British Dominions beyond the Seas King, Defender of the Faith, Emperor of India,

To all to whom these Presents shall come Greeting:

WHEREAS We are desirous of signifying Our appreciation of acts of gallantry and devotion to duty performed by non-commissioned officers and men of Our Army in the Field We do by these Presents for Us Our heirs and successors institute and create a silver medal to be awarded to non-commissioned officers and men for individual or associated acts of bravery on the recommendation of a Commander-in-Chief in the Field:

Firstly.– It is ordained that the medal shall be designated "The Military Medal."

Secondly.–It is ordained that the Military Medal shall bear on the obverse the Royal Effigy, and on the reverse the words "For bravery in the Field," encircled by a wreath surmounted by the Royal Cipher and a Crown.

Thirdly.– It is ordained that the names of those upon whom We may be pleased to confer the Military Medal shall be published in the London Gazette, and that a Register thereof shall be kept in the Office of Our Principal Secretary of State for War.

Fourthly.– It is ordained that the Military Medal shall be worn immediately before all war medals and shall be worn on the left breast pendent from a ribbon of one inch and one quarter in width, which shall be in colour dark blue having in the centre three white and two crimson stripes alternating.

Lastly.– It is ordained that in cases where non-commissioned officers and men who have been awarded the Military Medal shall be recommended by a Commander-in-Chief in the Field for further acts of bravery, a Bar may be added to the medal already conferred.

Given at Our Court at Saint James's, this Twenty-fifth day of March, 1916, in the Sixth Year of Our Reign.

By His Majesty's Command,


Total Awards

Approximately 115,000 Military Medals (M.M.) were awarded during the First World War (with 596 first bars, 180 second bars and one third bar). Each bar represented a subsequent award f the same honour. Over 15,000 Military Medals were awarded during the Second World War (with 177 first bars, and one second bar). About 300 Military Medals were awarded between the wars and another 932 with eight first bars since 1947.

Awards to Canadians

During the First World War; 12,341 Canadian soldiers received the Military Medal. Of these, 830 received a second award and 39 received a third award of the M.M. One of the best known recipients of the MM with two bars was Cpl Francis Pegahmagabow, the most highly decorated Canadian Native in the First World War. He served with 1st Canadian Infantry Battalion of the Canadian Expeditionary Force.

During the Second World War, 1235 Canadian soldiers received the Military Medal. Of these, 10 received a second award and 1 received a third award of the M.M. The sole recipient of the MM with two bars was Regimental Sergeant Major Frank Leslie Dixon, of the Essex Scottish Regiment.

During the Korean War; 53 Canadian soldiers received the Military Medal.

In 1993 the Military Medal was discontinued in the British honours system and the Military Cross became available to all ranks.

The equivalent award to the Military Medal in the modem Canadian Honours system is the Medal of Military Valour. As of 1 June 2012, this medal has been awarded 83 times for actions in Afghanistan.

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Friday, 26 April 2013

The Canadian Honours System
Topic: Medals

Courtesy of the Department of National Defences Directorate of Honours and Recognition, comes this site on Canadian Honours. The Canadian Honours Chart identifies the many honours, awards and medals that can be worn by members of the Canadian Armed Forces. Ranging from the Victoria Cross to the Commissionaires Long Service Medal, each identified medal links to an associated page giving general information and eligibility requirements.

For medals that are no longer issued, a similar series of pages can be found in the Veterans Affairs Canada website; Orders, Decorations and Medals.

Recipients of honours and awards for valour and meritorious service can be researched at the Governor General's website:

Earlier recipients of valour, meritorious and long service awards can also be sought among the pages of the London Gazette and the Canada Gazette, but be warned, the searching of either archive can require patience.

For guidance on wearing of medals and ribbons, see the following guide:

For those with an interst in learning more about Canadian medals and awards, there is no better source to start with than Christpher McCreery's book; The Canadian Honours System.

For research into older medals, try the Medal Yearbook and/or British Battle and Medals, two valuable references for collectors and researchers.

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Tuesday, 23 April 2013

Victory Medal
Topic: Medals

Over 350,000 Canadians received the Victory Medal (Inter-Allied War medal) for service in the First World War. The Victory Medal is the second most common medal awarded to Canadians for Great War service after the British War Medal. The Victory Medal is always accompanied by the British War Medal, and, for those whose service in theatre started before the end of 1915, also with the 1914-15 Star. These groupings are colloquially referred to as the First World War "pair" (BWM + VM) and the "trio" (1914-15 Star + BWM + VM). Unlike the British War Medal, the Victory Medal could not be issued as a sole entitlement, i.e., alone.

Eligibility for the Victory Medal required that the recipient had served on the strength of a unit in a theatre of war between 5 August 1914 and 11 November 1918. Soldiers who reached France but did not transfer to the strength of a unit serving in France before the Armistice were not eligible, alternatively, a soldier who had been posted to a unit became eligible even if he did not reach his unit before the cessation of hostilities.

There were no clasps (bars) issued for the Victory Medal. If the recipient was also Mentioned in Despatches, the oak leaf emblem for that honour was mounted on the Victory Medal ribbon.



Researching Canadian Soldiers of the First World War

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Updated: Tuesday, 23 April 2013 1:21 AM EDT
Wednesday, 17 April 2013

Canada General Service Medal 1866-70
Topic: Medals

The Canadian Militia participated in the defeat of the Fenians in 1866 and 1870. Twenty-eight years after the actions of 1870, a medal was authorized for participation in those events. The following Militia General Order provides the instructions for applying for the medal and its clasps as published in the Canada Gazette in 1898.

Militia General Orders

Ottawa, 1st July, 1898

General Order No. 63

Medals, General Service for Canada

Her Majesty having graciously approved of the establishment of a general service medal for Canada, and having approved of the bestowal, by the Government of Canada, of medals for service in the Fenian Raid, 1866, Fenian Raid, 1870, and the Red River Expedition, 1870, a Board to be known as the "Medals Claim Board" has been formed at Headquarters to consider claims for medals for such campaigns.

Those Entitles to Medals

All surviving Officers, N.O. Officers and men, who during the operations in question, (1) performed Active Service in the Field, or (2) served under orders from competent authority as Guards at any point where an attack from the enemy was expected, or (3) were detailed by competent authority for some specific or special service or duty.


All claimants for medals will be required to submit their applications separately, and those who served in more than one campaign must submit an applications for each.

A Form (Militia Form A.17) for this purpose, which embodies a declaration of particulars of service to be made before a Justice of the peace by the applicant, and also a declaration of a comrade who has personal knowledge of the applicant's service, will be forwarded to all claimants whose applications are on file at Headquarters. All claimants whose applications have not yet been sent in, may obtain copies of this Form by applying to District Headquarters. This Form of application having been completed as therein required, is to be forwarded to the senior surviving Officer of the Corps to which the claimant belonged, or in th event of there being no Officer now surviving, direct to the present District Officer Commanding the District in which the service is alleged to have been performed.

The senior surviving Officer, if any such, will forward, and, if he has any documentary evidence or personal knowledge of the alleged service, recommend the application to the District Officer Commanding the District in which the service is alleged to have been performed.


Only one medal will be issued to any individual.

With each medal there will be granted a clasp indicating the occasion on which the services for which the medal is granted were rendered, and to those who served in campaigns subsequent to that for which the medal is granted, there will be issued, in addition, a clasp for each such campaign. The clasps will be designated "Fenian Raid 1866," "Fenian Raid, 1870," and "Red River, 1870."

Delivery of Medals

Medals for parties residing at headquarters of any District, the headquarters of any Corps of Active Militia, or of any Unit thereof, will be forwarded to the District Officer Commanding, or the Officer Commanding such Corps or Units, for delivery.

In localities where there are Veterans Associations and it is desired to have public presentation of medals to the members of the Associations, the medals will, on the recommendation of the District Officer Commanding, be forwarded to the Presidents of such Associations. Medals for parties other than provided for above, will, by permission of the Honourable Postmaster General, be sent to the Postmaster of the City or Town where the owner of the medal resides.

A receipt must be signed for each medal at the time of delivery.

It was during the first Fenian raids in 1866, that the only Victoria Cross to be awarded for actions in Canada was granted. This award, for an act of gallantry not in the presence of the enemy (which was allowed by the terms and conditions for the VC for a brief period) was earned by Private Timothy O'Hea of the 1st Battalion, The Rifle Brigade, when he put out a fire in a railway car loaded with ammunition.

From the excellent British service medals reference "British Battles and Medals," we find that over 15,000 General Service Medals were awarded to Canadians, along with another 821 to Imperial troops. Of these, the vast majority received only one of the three clasps, with 1601 receiving two clasps and only 20 soldiers eligible for all three clasps to the medal. The same reference also lists the approximately 340 separate units of the Canadian Militia to which eligible applicants belonged.

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Sunday, 7 April 2013

Forfeiture of Medals
Topic: Medals

Once a soldier has earned an honour or award, whether that be a decoration for valour or a service medal for service abroad of long service, it is perceived that there will always be an attendant respect for his accomplishments. But the challenge of what to do with a soldier whose later actions undermine that desired perception of respect and honour has long confronted authorities. In recent years in Canada, the medals awarded to Col Russell Williams were taken back by the Canadian military after his conviction for murder. This is not a new practice, the following extract from General Orders shows that it is a long established practice in the British Empire and was formally recognized by Canada well over a century ago.

Militia General Orders

Ottawa, 15th June, 1888

General Order, No. 3
Forfeiture and Restoration of Medals

The following Imperial Regulations apply in all cases where medals have been granted to miltiamen in Canada:—

Paragraphs 982, 983 and 984, Royal Warrant, 1887, Part 1, section 6, Rewards, etc.:

982.    Every soldier who is found guilty by a Court Martial of the following offences: desertion, fraudulent enlistment, any offence under section 17 or 18 Army Act, 1881, and every soldier who is sentenced by a Court Martial to penal servitude, or to be discharged with ignominy; shall forfeit all Medals and Decorations (other than the Victoria Cross, which is dealt with under special regulations) of which he may be in possession, or to which he may have been entitled, together with any annuity or Gratuity thereto appertaining.

983.     Every soldier show:—

(a)    is liable on confession of desertion or fraudulent enlistment, but whose trial has been dispensed with;

(b)    is discharged in consequence of incorrigible and worthless character; or expressly on account of misconduct; or on conviction by the Civil Power; or on being sentenced to penal servitude, or for giving a false answer on attestation;

(c)    is found guilty by a Civil Court of an offence which, if tried by Court Martial, would be cognizable under section 17 or section 18, Army Act; or is sentenced by a Civil Court to a punishment exceeding six months imprisonment;

Shall forfeit all Medals (other than the Victoria Cross, which is dealt with under special regulations) granted to him subsequently to the date of Our Warrant of 25th June, 1881, together with the annuity or gratuity, if any, thereto appertaining.

984.    Any General or District Court Martial may, in addition to or withour any other punishment, sentence any offender to forfeit any Medal or Decoration (other than the Victoria Cross, which is dealt with under special regulations), together with the annuity or gratuity, if any, thereto appertaining which may have been granted to him; but no such forfeiture shall be awarded by the Court Martial when the offence is such that the condition does of itself entail a forfeiture under Articles 982 and 983.

Paragraph 12, Section–XX–Medals—The Queen's Regulations and Orders for the Army, 1885:—

12.    When Medals are forfeited they are to be transmitted to the Adjutant General for disposal. The same course is to be followed in case of Medals, which may have been recovered after a soldier has been convicted of making away with them. Letters containing Medals when forwarded through the post, are to be registered.

Paragraphs 17 and 18 of the Army Act, 1881

The following text of paragraphs 17 and 18 of the Army Act, 1881 are taken from the 1907 edition of the Manual of Military Law.

17.    Every person subject to military law who commits any of the following offences; that is to say,

Being charged with or concerned in the care or distribution of any public or regimental money or goods, steals, fraudulently misapplies, or embezzles the same, or connives at the stealing, fraudulent misapplication, or embezzlement thereof, or wilfully damages any such goods on conviction by court-martial be liable to suffer penal servitude, or such less punishment as is in this Act mentioned.

18.    Every soldier who commits any of the following offences; that is to say.

(1.)     Malingers, or feigns or produces disease or infirmity or

(2.)     Wilfully maims or injures himself or any other soldier, whether at the instance of such other soldier or not, with intent thereby to render himself or such other soldier unfit for service, or causes himself to be maimed or injured by any person, with intent thereby to render himself unfit for service; or

(3.)     Is wilfully guilty of any misconduct, or wilfully disobeys, whether in hospital or otherwise, any orders, by means of which misconduct or disobedience he produces or aggravates disease or infirmity, or delays its cure; or

(4.)     Steals or or embezzles or receives, knowing them to be stolen or embezzled any money or goods the property of a comrade or of an officer, or any money or goods belonging to any regimental mess or band, or to any regimental institution, any public money or goods; or

(5.)     Is guilty of any other offence of a fraudulent nature not before in this Act particularly specified, or of any other disgraceful conduct of a cruel, indecent, or unnatural kind,

shall on conviction by court-martial be liable to suffer imprisonment, or such less punishment as is in this Act mentioned.

Special Provisions for the Victoria Cross

The special provisions for the Victoria Cross were provided in the Fifteenth article of the original Warrant for the award, published in the London Gazette on 5 February 1856:

Fifteenthly. In order to make such additional provision as shall effectually preserve pure this most honourable distinction, it is ordained, that if any person on whom such distinction shall be conferred, be convicted of treason, cowardice, felony, or of any infamous crime, or if he be accused of any such offence and doth not after a reasonable time surrender himself to be tried for the same, his name shall forthwith be erased from the registry of individuals upon whom the said Decoration shall have been conferred by an especial Warrant under Our Royal Sign Manual, and the pension conferred under rule fourteen, shall cease and determine from the date of such Warrant. It is hereby further declared that We, Our Heirs and Successors, shall be the sole judges of the circumstance demanding such expulsion; moreover, We shall at all times have power to restore such persons as may at any time have been expelled, both to the enjoyment of the Decoration and Pension.

Her Majesty Queen Victoria reserved the right to determine if any soldier should be required to forfeit the award for valour fashioned in her name.

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Friday, 29 March 2013

The British War Medal
Topic: Medals

The most common medal awarded to Canadians for service in the First World War is the British War Medal. This medal could be issued as the recipient’s sole entitlement, or it could be accompanied by the Victory Medal for those who served in a theatre of war, and, for those whose service in theatre started before the end of 1915, the 1914-15 Star. These groupings are colloquially referred to as the First World War "pair" (BWM + VM) and the "trio" (1914-15 Star + BWM + VM). Of these three medals, only the British War medal could be issued as a sole entitlement, i.e., without accompanying medals.

The British War Medal was awarded to any serviceman or woman who served outside Canada’s 3-mile limit, thus making those whose wartime service at sea (with a minimum of 28 days of mobilized service required) or on garrison duty in Bermuda eligible for this medal. As with any award, there were "special cases," for example, those who enlisted in the Overseas Military Forces of Canada in the UK were required to then serve outside of the UK to be eligible for the British War Medal.

Authorized for issue on 26 July 1919, most Canadians would have received their BWMs by the early 1920s. It is not unusual to see photographs from that era of soldiers wearing the ribbons for medals they had not yet received, holding place in their incomplete medal groups. Almost 430,000 British War medals were issued to Canadians who served outside of Canada during the Great War.

No clasps (bars) were issued for the British War Medal. An evolving plan to have clasps for naval and for army service quickly developed into lengthy lists of possible clasps which, given the attendant costs of production and distribution, was laid aside in the post-war economic environment. 68 naval and 79 army clasps were originally proposed, to accompany the approximately 6.5 million BWMs to be issued to Commonwealth soldiers.


Researching Canadian Soldiers of the First World War

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Updated: Saturday, 16 March 2013 3:41 PM EDT
Wednesday, 13 March 2013

The 1914-1915 Star
Topic: Medals

The first medal that many Canadian soldiers might have been eligible to receive for their First World War service was the 1914-15 Star. Eligibility for the 1914-15 Star was achieved if the soldier served in a theatre of war before the end of 1915. In the Western Europe theatre of war, for operations in France and Belgium, the specific dates of eligibility were from midnight of 22-23 November 1914 until 31 Dec 1915.

Over two million 1914-15 Stars were awarded to soldiers of the British Empire, and of these, 71,150 went to Canadian soldiers of the Great War (There is also a 1914 Star for those who reached a theatre of war before the end of 1914, of which only 160 were awarded to Canadians.) each 1914-15 Star is impressed (stamped) on the reverse with the recipient's service number, rank, name and unit. Officers medals do not include a service number because officers did not have service numbers during the First World War.

Any soldier who was eligible for the 1914-15 Star also received the British War Medal and the Victory Medal, these three forming the colloquially named First World War "trio."

Researching Canadian Soldiers of the First World War

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT

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