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Soldier Evadees


Paul Byrne
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Does anybody happen to know whether the British awarded medals to French civilians for giving shelter/succour to soldier evadees during the Great War. Any help would be welcome.

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Paul

The Allied Subjects' Medal was issued to those people (not necessarily British) who had helped the Allied cause, by for example, assisting POWs to escape and avoid detection. Due to a disagreement between the War and Foreign Offices, the medal was not introduced until November 1920, with additional awards made in 1921 and 1922.

The medal itself was either silver or bronze, and 33 millimetres in diameter. On the obverse side was the profile of King George V. The reverse side had a female Humanity offering a cup to a British soldier resting on the ground, against a profile of ruined buildings.

All the medals were issued unnamed and almost half of the total issued went to women.

Dave

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Guest leibregiment100

Having done some research in this area, I can confirm that French and Belgian civilians who a part of British intelligence (Volunteer service attached to the British army) are listed in WO329, the list includes those civilian personel who as part of their intelligence duties looked after downed pilots and escaped POWs,

they all recieved the British war Medal (BWM) as well as other decorations ( BEM,MBE), all those who assisted the allied cause and were not part of an organisation did recieve the Allied Subjects Medal

3 good books on the subject, "The secrets of the White Lady" and "Alls Fair" by Henry Landau and "Under the German Heel" by S Theodore Felsted.

I include a nice scan of a nurse with a BWM

post-23-1084301710.jpg

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  • 4 months later...
Guest davidhitchin

I am interested in this, as my great-aunt was awarded the Allied Subjects Medal, and was the only person of German Nationality to received this award (where the rules permitted awards to "certain persons who were technically or otherwise enemy subjects").

She was born Ada Mary Whiting, and after working for the Church Army in this country founded the International Seaman's Rest in Antwerp. She married a German, and so acquired German nationality, although I believe that their devotion to their mission was far more important than nationality. They may have become naturalised Belgians after the war.

The family legend is that she carried messages in the lining of her bonnet, and to mislead the Germans who often searched her, she carried a violin with her - and the interior of the violin was often inspected.

At the National Archives (late the Public Record Office) there are files about the decision to create the award, and a list of names, addresses and nationalities of recipients. So far no one has been able, with a few exceptions, to trace citations, and I would be very grateful if anyone can suggest where they might be found.

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  • 5 years later...

This is an update on my posting of 2nd October 2004 with the topic “Soldier Evadees Medals to French civilians”, with my identity now given as “Deleted_davidhitchin_*”

I have been able to do a lot of work on this topic, and although it has yielded very few pieces of information, they have all been valuable.

First of all, two corrections. One poster wrote, “The Allied Subjects' Medal was issued to those people (not necessarily British) who had helped the Allied cause, by for example, assisting POWs to escape and avoid detection.” I have been able to read all of the documentation at Kew, and the medal was specifically for people who were NOT British, and one of the sources of disagreement was the claim, later proved incorrect, that we had NEVER in the past awarded medals to people who were not British, or serving with British forces. There was also the comment that “all those who assisted the allied cause and were not part of an organisation did recieve the Allied Subjects Medal” which has to be taken in the context of the process for nominating people to receive awards, which was deliberately limited to claims within a very short time period, as the Treasury wanted certainty about the total cost of the project – and to minimise it.

It really does seem that no citations have survived, although it is possible that one or two people quoted from documents provided at the time that the awards were made. I have established that my great-aunt was in contact with others who were active in helping soldier evadees, and that she had a permit to travel between two of the places between which escapers were sent. While this is not proof, it is some confirmation of the family story.

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