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Meaning of "Despatches"


plajr
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A newbie to the Great War Forum here in the USA. I am researching a British officer who was killed in the second battle of Kut in Mesopotamian (January, 1917). It was written that he had been "mentioned in despatches." What does being mentioned in despatches mean? Is it an honor such as a medal or does it mean his name had been published in a British newspaper (through information released by the War Department)?

(BTW, we Americans would spell it "dispatches" if the meaning is analogous with "communications." Thanks for any assistance on my inquiry.

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His medal index card might give a reference to London Gazette. If it does it is findable.

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Thank you. That Web site on Despatches did help locate my subject as well as his nephew, whom I also am researching. "Despatches" in the first instance seemed to be a listing of his promotions whereas Despatches re his nephew reflected both promotions and his receiving the Distinguished Service Cross in 1917. But "medal index card?" Hmmm. What is that and where would I locate medal index cards? I tried the proboard Web site that was linked to johnboy's email, but that did not seem to be the correct location for medal index cards. Perhaps that is Johnboy's Web site?

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plajr,


Welcome to the Forum.


British ' Commanders in the Field ' were required to write reports, known as Despatches, for the War Department reporting on events, activities, battles or campaigns which had taken place in areas under their command.

Should the Commander writing the Despatch consider that an individual, who due to their gallantry or distinguished service in the Field, be worthy of a mention in that Despatch, then that person was deemed to have been ' Mentioned in Despatches '.

Those Despatches written by Commanders in the Field, were published in the London Gazette, and by referring to those Despatches published in the London Gazette, details of a person mentioned in those Despatches can be found.


After the end of WW1, on 12th January, 1920, it was announced in an Army Order, that in order to denote that a person had been ' Mentioned in Despatches ' during the period 4th August, 1914 and 19th August, 1920, an MID emblem would be issued in the form of a sprig of oak leaves made in bronze, which would be worn on the riband of the Victory Medal, and in the event that the MID recipient did not receive the Victory Medal, then the MID emblem would be attached to the riband of the British War Medal. In the event that the MID recipient had neither awards, the MID emblem could be attached to the jacket lapel.


Additionally, in 1919 another Army Order announced that a Certificate for being Mentioned in Despatches would also be issued.


The dates covered by the WW1 ' Mentioned in Despatches ' were 4th August, 1914 to 19th August, 1920, with some 141,082 Mentioned in Despatches being recorded during that period.


Irrespective of how many times a person was ' Mentioned in Despatches ' only one MID emblem could be worn.


A soldier's Medal Index Card may show the issue of an ' Emblem/Emb ' referring to the MID emblem, which will denote that person was Mentioned in Despatches.


Attached is a photograph of a British Victory Medal with the MID emblem attached to the riband.


Also attached is a copy of a Certificate for being Mentioned in Despatches from my Collection, which was issued to a British officer who received no less than 4 such certificates for being Mentioned in Despatches for Gallantry and Distinguished Service in the Field on four separate occasions. He was also awarded the Distinguished Service Order ( D.S.O. ) for gallantry. This particular Certificate, relates to a Despatch written By General Allenby on 3rd April, 1918.

Interestingly, the MID Certificate was signed by Winston Churchill, the then Secretary of State for War.


Regards,

LF

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his receiving the Distinguished Service Cross in 1917.

If your man received the Distinguished Service Cross, he should be well documented, as only 1694 DSC's were awarded between 1914 to 1920, and you should be able to locate his Medal Index Card via the British National Archives.

Regards,

LF

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Can you give his name? If you have other info eg Regiment and battalion, that would be a great help in looking for any records for him.

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Being a Guardsman, would a DSC for KUT be unusual as its not coastal which is what as a land lubber Id expect a DSC for ? Happy to be educated!


assuming its a British DSC

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As far as I am aware there are no medal index cards for Naval personnel.

Medal entitlement is generally recorded in their service papers.

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progress on this depends on which service he was in or we might start giving pointers in the wrong direction

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Kut for Naval service would be possible if the Tigris flotilla, for example Surgeon Dermot Loughlin about whom i have posted before.

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Gallantry awards broadly fell into four classes:

1. Victoria Cross (all ranks)

2. Distinguished Service Order (officers) and Distinguished Conduct Medal (other ranks)

3. Military Cross (officers and WOs) and Military Medal (other ranks)

4. Mentioned in Despatches (all ranks)

These are the Army awards: the RN and RAF had equivalent awards in classes 2 and 3. Some awards, especially to officers in classes 2 and 3, and MiDs, could be awarded for meritorious service not in contact with the enemy.

Incidentally, the Despatches were normally written about every six months. The "mentions" are simply long lists of names, with regiment, rank and number. They do not give any details as to where or when the acts took place.

Ron

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Getting a bit confusing here - for me at least...

I think Coldstreamer is meaning that HE is the Guardsman and not the OP original British officer (and it's his NEPHEW that I believe had the DSC)

... but where do we suddenly get a Naval Officer involved?

As the info given is a British Officer killed at Kut sometime between 1st and 31st January 1917 and has an MiD there are only 4 officers that meet that criteria,

Why it seems so difficult for posters requiring help to be unable to give at least Name Rank and Number, if not ALL the information they already have is beyond me, however, having done the research you may as well have it..

BERTHON, LEONARD TINNE. Rank: Captain. Date of Death: 25/01/1917. Age: 41.
Regiment/Service: Royal Warwickshire Regiment 9th Bn. Awards: Mentioned in Despatches
Grave Reference: XIX. H. 15. Cemetery: AMARA WAR CEMETERY.
Additional Information: Son of Capt. Charles Harrison Berthon and Anna (his wife), of Paignton, Devon; husband of Anna Ethel Berthon.
Also served at Gallipoli.
CALLENDER, GEORGE WILFRED. Rank: Captain. Date of Death: 25/01/1917. Age: 27.
Regiment/Service: Worcestershire Regiment 9th Bn. Awards: Mentioned in Despatches
Grave Reference: XIX. F. 2. Cemetery: AMARA WAR CEMETERY.
Additional Information: Son of William and Lallie Callender, of 52, Great South Rd., Auckland, New Zealand.
HARDMAN, WALLACE GEORGE. Rank: Second Lieutenant. Date of Death: 09/01/1917. Age: 19.
Regiment/Service: Manchester Regiment 13th Bn. Awards: Mentioned in Despatches
Grave Reference: XVI. D. 11. Cemetery: AMARA WAR CEMETERY.
Additional Information: Son of Mrs. W. I. Hardman, of 15, Charlbury Rd., Oxford, and the late James Hardman, M.A. Born at Oldham.
YATES, WILLIAM GRANDAGE. Rank: Second Lieutenant. Date of Death: 09/01/1917. Age: 19.
Regiment/Service: Manchester Regiment 1st Bn. Awards: Mentioned in Despatches
Grave Reference: XXVIII. A. 3. Cemetery: AMARA WAR CEMETERY.
Additional Information: Son of Alice Yates, of 8, Montpelier Crescent, Brighton, and the late T. J. Yates. Born at Timperley, Cheshire.
Educated at Christ's Hospital and Sandhurst.
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Kevin

I fear we may be putting the original poster off with technicalities! So far he has made only two Forum posts, and he is from the USA, where the Distinguished Service Cross is an Army decoration. I think reference to a DSC to a British officer may be a mistake.

Hello plajr, and welcome to the Forum!

If you would like to post the full names of the two officers you are interested in, with their ranks and regiments, we may be able to help you further.

Ron

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The OP refers to two officers: one had been Mentioned in Despatches and was killed in Mesopotamia in January 1917; the other was his nephew, who was awarded the DSC. Given their ages, the only one of the four men identified by Kevin above likely to have had a nephew serving would be Captain Berthon.

Obviously, his nephew may not have had the same surname, but Berthon is not a common name and Act. Lieut. Edward Lyon Berthon, R.N. was awarded the DSC on 22 June 1917 for 'Miscellaneous Services', Gazette No. 30147. See Naval-History.net.

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yes, sorry as was speaking as a guardsman meaning I am someone that knows not much about naval stuff

its more of a challenge without the name :w00t:

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The point is that someone else may be researching whoever this is and won't find anything helpful and have to either ask the question again or perhaps others on this or another website spend a lot of time and effort duplicating what has already been done.

its more of a challenge without the name :w00t:

:thumbsup: Sorry about throwing my toys out the pram. The Original Poster obviously didn't appreciate that his enquiry about Despatches would spiral into requiring the Name(s) to ensure we provide as much background as possible. He's got the answer, and if I haven't frightened him away we may get more.... sorry, plajr :blush:

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its a case of we all want to help and its got potential for a very nice group of medals and story

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I am impressed with the group while also a bit overwhelmed with the information supplied so far. My original inquiry was as to the meaning of being mentioned in Despatches. But several of you have proceeded far beyond that and some seem willing or interested in digging a bit deeper into this. All of that would be appreciated. Some have suggested my posting the names of the two men and their units. So, here is what I have:

1. Forum member Kevin Battle has identified my main subject correctly as:

BERTHON, LEONARD TINNE. Rank: Captain. Date of Death: 25/01/1917. Age: 41.

Regiment/Service: Royal Warwickshire Regiment 9th Bn. Awards: Mentioned in Despatches

Grave Reference: XIX. H. 15. Cemetery: AMARA WAR CEMETERY.

Additional Information: Son of Capt. Charles Harrison Berthon and Anna (his wife), of Paignton, Devon; husband of Anna Ethel Berthon.

Also served at Gallipoli.

You will note that this entry states “Awards: Mentioned in Despatches.” That statement triggered my initial posting to this Forum. In looking at the link that was suggested in the first response to my posting, all I could find was Leonard Tinne Berthon listed in the London Gazette as getting a promotion in rank. So, perhaps even being promoted in rank merited a mention in Despatches, but perhaps I missed something. Perhaps someone else in the Forum can direct me to other “awards” for Leonard Tinné Berthon (note the accent mark on his middle name, which might or might not be an issue in a computer name search).

2. The other (and secondary) subject is Edward Lyon Berthon, who was the nephew of Leonard Berthon. (This nephew used his middle name, Lyon, in letters home, but I think it is the correct individual. He apparently was a junior officer on the HMS Racoon in the Mediterranean and perhaps earlier served on the HMS Agamemnon. In checking the Despatches I found Edward Lyon Berthon mentioned as getting a Distinguished Service Cross for bravery under fire (London Gazette, 23 July, 1918) while serving on the HMS Sirius. A brief description of his DSC medal was given on that page if anyone wants to look at it. Then I subsequently noted another mention in the London Gazette of 16 August 1940 of the same name serving as (promoted to?) a Navy Captain. I am speculating that Edward Lyon Berthon either remained in service after WWI and rose to captain by 1940, or that he re-enlisted in the Navy at the start of WWII and was given a captain’s rank. Is there any way to confirm or revise my speculation on that point by looking at the records?

For the information of Forum members, a batch of correspondence of Army Capt. Leonard Berthon recently was acquired by the University of Colorado. That correspondence forms the basis of my research, which is to be published this fall in the “Military Postal History Bulletin.” (Emphasis on the word “postal,” which requires me to stress aspects of the mail to and from this subject.) I also am planning a “sidebar” article on his nephew. If anyone wants to see the published articles, let me know. It would be up the editor and publisher of the journal as to whether they would be available for posting online.

Any supplemental information or suggestions that the Forum members can provide on either or both uncle and nephew would be appreciated for this new member. And thank you all from the Rocky Mountains of Colorado.

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Well, YOUR Edward Lyon Berthon must be related to a namesake in the 1850's the inventor of Berthons Log and the Berthon Folding Boat...

However, your E L Berthon is more known as Captain of the famous Tribal class destroyer HMS Cossack (when under the command of captain Vian)

BERTHON, EDWARD LYON. Rank: Captain. Date of Death: 23/10/1941. Age :47.
Regiment/Service: Royal Navy H.M.S. Cossack Awards:D S O and Bar, D S C
Panel Reference: Panel 45, Column 1. Memorial: PORTSMOUTH NAVAL MEMORIAL.
Additional Information:Son of Claude T. and Annie Berthon; husband of Doris Marjorie Berthon, of Felpham, Sussex.
Ranks: 15 May 1912 Midshipman; 15 Sep 1914 Acting Sub.Lt.; 15 Mar 1915 Sub.Lt.; 15 Sep 1916 Lt.; 15 Sep 1924 Lt.Cdr.; 31 Dec 1929 Cdr.; 30 Jun 1937 Capt.
(so as you surmised, he did stay in the Navy between the Wars.) In fact as he was born on 15 September 1894 he entered the Navy on his 13th birthday 15 September 1907.
See Reference: ADM 196/117/15 Description: Name Berthon, Edward Lyon. Date of Birth: 15 September 1894
Date of Appointment: 15 September 1907; Date: 15 September 1907. Held by: The National Archives, Kew
Decorations: 22 Jun 1917 DSC; (https://www.thegazette.co.uk/London/issue/30147/supplement/6254/data.pdf )23 Jul 1918 Bar to DSC ;16 Aug 1940 Mentioned in Despatches (MID) 25 Nov 1941 DSO (posthumous)
Warship Commands listed for Edward Lyon Berthon, RN
Ship Rank Type From To
HMS Keith (D 06) Capt. Destroyer 27 May 1940 1 Jun 1940
On 1 June 1940 HMS Keith (Capt. Edward Lyon Berthon, RN, also Commanding officer of the 19th Destroyer Flotilla) was sunk by German Ju87 Stuka dive bombers off Dunkirk, France while she was participating in the evacuaton of the British Expeditionary Force from France. The wreck lies in 23 meters of water in position 51º04'43"N, 02º08'46"E.
HMS Cossack (F 03) Capt. Destroyer 10 Jul 1941 23 Oct 1941.
At the beginning of July 1941, the ships were sent to Plymouth to defend British coastal convoys against raids by German destroyers and E-boats based in Brittany, France. More rapid firepower was needed against the fast moving E-boats so HMS Cossack, HMS Maori, HMS Sikh and HMS Zulu had single 2 pounder guns mounted on each side of the bridge. On 14th July, HMS Cossack, HMS Maori and HMS Sikh arrived in Gibraltar to take part in Operation Substance, the reinforcement of Malta's garrison which was expected to repel an anticipated German airborne assault.
In October 1941, HMS Cossack (Capt. Edward Lyon Berthon, DSO and Bar, DSC, RN) left Gibraltar escorting a slow, UK bound convoy. On the night of the 23rd, she was at the rear of the convoy when a torpedo from U-563 hit forward of the bridge killing Captain Berthon and 158 of his officers and men. A further 29 were injured. Ammunition had exploded; No.1 boiler room was flooding and the survivors abandoned ship using Carley floats. The Commodant Duboc and the Legion picked them up however the Cossack did not sink and was reboarded and towed by the Tug Thames after damage control teams managed to effect repairs, again however due to the worsening weather their efforts were in vain and she foundered on the 27th. Those onboard abandoned ship and were rescued by the Jonquil.
The Berthon name still exists in yachting circles, with a boatyard at Lymington.
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This website gives Edward Lyons's RN career record: you may have to scroll down a bit. He was awarded the DSC and Bar (i.e. the DSC twice) in WWI and the DSO in WWII. He remained in the RN between the wars, being promoted to Lieutenant -Commander on 15 September 1924 (automatic after 8 years as a Lieutenant), Commander on 31 December 1929 and Captain on 30 June 1937. Receiving promotions on the last days of June and December is normal in the RN. He was killed when his ship, HMS Cossack, was sunk in October 1941 by a U-boat.

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Captain Leonard Tinne Berthon, Royal Warwick Regiment who was killed onJanuary 25, 1917, aged 41 was the youngest son of Captain C. H. Berthon, late Indian Navy. He saw active service in the Matabele campaign in 1896 with Gifford's Horse, for which he received the Matabele Medal, and in the early part of the campaign the South African (Queen's) Medal. On the outbreak of the current war he enlisted in the 2nd King Edwards Horse, received his commission in the Royal Warwickshire Regiment in February 1915, and was wounded in Gallipoli in August 1915 and mentioned in dispatches in January 1916. He was gazetted Captain last April. He married in 1900 Anna Ethel eldest daughter of the late Marmaduke Darrel Jeffrey's of the Admiralty, and leaves two children.

The Times February 2 1917. Officers Killed

This means the Despatch he was mentioned in was Hamilton's 3rd Gallipoli Despatch. The full text is on the parent site the Long long Trail

http://www.1914-1918.net/hamiltons_gallipoli_despatch_3.html

So in answer to your original query if you look at the last paragraph of the Third Despatch, first sentence, ' I have many other names to bring to notice.....', this is the list of mentions and was published in the LG on the 28 January 1916

https://www.thegazette.co.uk/London/issue/29455/supplement/1195/data.pdf

(Cover page)

His entry https://www.thegazette.co.uk/London/issue/29455/supplement/1195

Jump to page 1199 sorry about that but the LG has one of the most appalling search functions on the web, the first link was googled!

The list was also published in the London Times the following day, 29 January, under the strap line ' Good work in Gallipoli' (page 6)

Serving with the 9th Bn Royal Warwickshire, he was wounded on the 10th August 1915 when the Turks attacked their position at 'Aghyl Dere Gully and vicinity' . This was the final phase of the Battle of Sari Bair. All but one officer of the battalion were killed or wounded during the battle, one Company held their position until all were lost. Two DSOs were awarded. Your man's actions that merited the 'mention' are not recorded as far as I can see.

Ken

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The gazette records quite a variety of things, promotions (and initial commissions) of officers are recorded, but are not related to Mentions in Despatches (generally anyway, in rather earlier times you might be given a battlefield promotion as a reward for good service which might well mean you also got Mentioned, but promotions had stopped working like that by the First World War).

Due to the way the Admiralty kept their officer records, Edwar Lyon's record is in several pieces, but you can find them all via http://discovery.nationalarchives.gov.uk/results/r?_fn=&_ln=berthon&discoveryCustomSearch=true&_cr1=ADM+196&_col=200&_dt=RN&_hb=tna - there are a couple of other Berthon's there too, Charles Pierre is definitely his older brother as the father's name (Claude Tinne, consulting engineer - presumably brother of Leonard Tinne) is the same on both records, but that detail is not shown in the record of Henri Jacques Maurice.

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It may be unconnected, but do you know whether the Berthon family that you are researching have / had any family members in South Wales and the West of England, please?

The reason I ask is that I used to know a John Berthon, who was a leading light in Hockey and Cricket in Newport, South Wales for many years until he died in the 1990s. He attended Lydney Grammar School (Gloucestershire) and Oxford University, and played hockey for Wales.

There may, of course, be no connection at all, but I thought that it was worth asking. If you have any questions, please let me know and I'll do my best to help.

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Thank you again for all of the information and assistance re the Berthon (uncle and nephew) research. I intend to follow-up on all of the information that you have provided, including looking at the various Web sites in detail. It is all a bit overwhelming now; I need to sort through this information but not lose the necessary focus on the “wartime postal history” of the Berthons for my article(s). Neither genealogy nor their military records are paramount, but those aspects are certainly worth examining as part of my research.

Forum member “The Scorer” asked if there is a known connection to a John Berthon in South Wales and the West of England. My answer now is: “I do not know.” The correspondence in Colorado gives the Berthon family address(es) as “Halton Salsey Chichester.” I have not looked that up (yet) to see where that is in England. Perhaps someone can point me there? Second, a couple pieces of Berthon family correspondence identifies a John Darrell Barnes as the grandson of Leonard Tinné Berthon and his wife, Anna Ethel Berthon. I don’t know where this Barnes was located or whether he might be a relative of a John Berthon of South Wales/West of England. Also, there is 1917 correspondence from a Lenore (or Lenora) Preston, who was a cousin of Leonard T. Berthon (if that is any assistance).

Again, my appreciation for the many contributions from the Forum.

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