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HagarTheHorrible

Medaille d’Honneur avec Glaives en Bronze

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HagarTheHorrible

Can anybody tell me about this medal ?

 

I have one, that belonged to my Great Grandfather, Clarence Armstrong WR260158, gazetted on the 17 March 1920 (London).

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ForeignGong

There were approx. 698 Bronze awards for the British Commonwealth WW1. Once again the war diary or local news papers may help.

 

Peter

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HagarTheHorrible

Thank you.

 

I was given it by my G Grandfather. 45 years ago, I had always assumed it was pretty common, given to all foreign soldiers who served in France, a bit like a French thankyou commemorative badge/medal.  Where did you come up with the 698 number it strikes me as remarkably small ?  From the small snippets that I can glean from the internet, it seems there is some confusion as to its merit, some suggesting close equivalence to an MM while another site suggests somewhere below a MiD.  I am tempted to err on the side of the later even with the small numbers awarded.

Edited by HagarTheHorrible

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Kimberley John Lindsay

Dear Hagar,

For anyone to receive any sort of decoration was a few and far between occurance.

One had to have done something outstanding, even for the lesser grades of awards. Indeed, the low number of 698 is remarkable...

Kindest regards,

Kim.

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ForeignGong

Hi Hagar

I have a database of foreign awards to commonwealth forces for WW1 up to 1925. I don't claim it is 100% but must be close as I have over 60,000 gazetted and over 15,000 that were awarded to societies such as Red Cross, St John, Scottish Women's Hospital. I add what ever other info I can find to it.

As Kim states above, foreign awards were well and truly earned. All are rarer than Imperial awards, even the French Croix de Guerre total is approx. 5,500 gazetted. This is a transcript of one taken from a War Diary

 

"At LESBOEUFS, November 7th 1916, Pte West went out under heavy rifle fire from close range to bring in a man lying out behind our front line. The following morning in broad daylight he led a party, carrying on a waterproof sheet, a wounded man, who but for their very risky action would have laid in the mud for 10 hours. He was exposed to the enemy’s fire for 500 yards and after reaching the dressing station he returned at once.

Since transferring from the R.A.M.C (at his own request) he, as a stretcher bearer has always shewn the most unselfish devotion to duty, regardless of his own safety."

 

This man was recommended for an MM.

Do you have the rest of your Grandfathers medals ?? 

 

Peter

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nhclark

Hagar,

Correctly titled Medaille d'Honneur des Affaires Etrangeres (Medal of Honour of Foreign Affairs) this medal was instituted in 1816 and the military version in 1887. It is awarded by the the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs for acts of courage by French citizens abroad and by foreigners in France. If awarded for civil action the medal hangs from a simple suspension device. The crossed swords (glaives) and oak wreath on the suspension device denote a military award "for services rendered under fire from the enemy." The three grades at the time of the First World War were vermeil (silver-gilt for commissioned officers), argent (silver for NCOs) and bronze for ranks below NCO.

There's a page here that shows all the medailles d'honneur, and Google Translate will tell you why the medal is sometimes called "The President's Medal." http://www.semon.fr/MEDAILLES HONNEUR.htm

Also see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Honour_medal_of_Foreign_Affairs

My understanding is that your great-grandfather will have, whilst under fire, performed an act of significant courage involving a French national. I note that his number indicates that he was was in the Waterways and Railways Branch of the Royal Engineers. Looking at the medal roll, I see that he was a Corporal (Acting-Sergeant), and despite the "acting" rank he qualified for the "en bronze" version of the medal. But I stress that the three grades of the medal were nothing to do with the degree of courage shown by the recipient. The medal roll is stamped "Railways", and it's likely that Clarence served in the Railway Operating Division or on the light railways. Was he perchance a railwayman in civilian life?

I hope this helps a bit.

Noel

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HagarTheHorrible
On 09/11/2018 at 01:13, ForeignGong said:

 

This man was recommended for an MM.

Do you have the rest of your Grandfathers medals ?? 

 

Peter

 

 

 

The only other medal I have is "Jeff", I never saw "Mutt".  I can't quite fathom why he would have received a foreign gong for bravery but nothing on the British side not even an MiD. I expect I thought it might have been a smartie medal because it had no name or other details on the back, unlike the Victory medal, but I gather that this isn't unusual.

 

On 11/11/2018 at 09:19, nhclark said:

 

My understanding is that your great-grandfather will have, whilst under fire, performed an act of significant courage involving a French national. I note that his number indicates that he was was in the Waterways and Railways Branch of the Royal Engineers. Looking at the medal roll, I see that he was a Corporal (Acting-Sergeant), and despite the "acting" rank he qualified for the "en bronze" version of the medal. But I stress that the three grades of the medal were nothing to do with the degree of courage shown by the recipient. The medal roll is stamped "Railways", and it's likely that Clarence served in the Railway Operating Division or on the light railways. Was he perchance a railwayman in civilian life?

I hope this helps a bit.

Noel

2

 

Thanks.  You're right he was in the Engineers before, according to his new service number (WR260158) being transferred to, it seems the railways (Still with the R.E). I know very little about him, I only met him the once when I was about 5, when he gave me the medals, according to my mum, after the war he became the manager for the goods yard at Derby railway station so I can only assume he was involved in the railways, in some capacity, prior to the war aswell. The only, not even, half-remembered story, from where I don't know, and is probably complete and utter ballcocks but I just have this glimmer of a thought that he might have been involved in moving a, possibly munitions, train that had, or was threatened by, fire. I just can't quite think why I think that or where it popped up from.

MoH.JPG

Edited by HagarTheHorrible

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JulianR

Looking at the citation on the front page of the Gazette it states that the list of foreign awards had been earned over the entire course of the campaign.  So we do not know what date the action was.

 

Furthermore the citation states that Clarence was Railway Transport Establishment and not the ROD.  The RTE were responsible for planning the running of trains, not their actual physical operation.  They were the interface between the demands of the Armies for supplies and the Nord Railway and/or ROD to deliver.

 

He also came from or had his NOK in Nottingham.

 

Railway Transport Officers were positioned at major stations to make sure it all ran like clockwork, they had a small staff of clerks/goods and wagon checkers to assist them.  As Clarence later ran a goods shed I would suggest that he had done that work before the war.

 

Julian

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HagarTheHorrible

Thanks very much.

 

Just out of curiosity ROD and NOK ? 

 

RTE is obvious.

Edited by HagarTheHorrible

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nhclark

ROD: Railway(s) Operating Division.

NOK: Next of kin.

 

Thanks for the photograph, and the further information from Julian - should have looked at that myself, so sloppy research on my part! I didn't realise that there were actual citations for this award in the Gazette. I must look further because "one of mine" was also awarded the Medaille d'Honneur.

 

Noel

Edited by nhclark

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JulianR

I think Clarence was probably working for the Midland Railway pre-war and their records are at the Midland Railway Centre, Butterley.  In 1923 he would have gone to the London Midland and Scottish Railway upon Grouping.

 

Noel, the citations themselves are not there, just a list of names, sorry should have phased it better.

 

Julian

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JulianR

One thing as Clarence was RTE, it is almost certain that act of bravery occurred at a main line railway station, and not on the light railways.  I suspect that a possible time frame might be the Spring Offensive of 1918, but that is not a given.

 

Have you tried looking for RTO War Diaries either at PRO or Chatham?

 

Julian

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nhclark
12 hours ago, JulianR said:

I think Clarence was probably working for the Midland Railway pre-war and their records are at the Midland Railway Centre, Butterley.  In 1923 he would have gone to the London Midland and Scottish Railway upon Grouping.

 

Noel, the citations themselves are not there, just a list of names, sorry should have phased it better.

 

Julian

Yes, I was about to post a comment on that!

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HagarTheHorrible

Thanks Chaps.

 

Suppose the best time to have asked at Chatham was when I was a Sapper myself and spent several months stationed there.

 

If memory serves, they aren't the most helpful when it comes to finding out about old Sappers, never the less it might be worth a go.

 

Does anybody have any notion as to its merit or equivalence (roughly)  to a British medal or MiD ?

Edited by HagarTheHorrible

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ForeignGong
1 hour ago, HagarTheHorrible said:

Does anybody have any notion as to its merit or equivalence (roughly)  to a British medal or MiD ?

There is not an equivalent British medal to a lot of foreign awards. I have noticed in the citations that I have found over the years, that the British authorities tended to award foreign medals for the reason that the original country did i.e. bravery / valour awards for bravery and meritorious for meritorious service. Citations / recommendations are quite hard to find. Here are two Aussie citations from the AWM site, as can be seen these are the sort of deeds that could easily have been awarded an MM or as I have seen citations like these, a DCM. Because the Imperial system of awards allowed very limited numbers, the use of foreign awards filled a few of the gaps. There will always be men and women who excelled themselves and got nothing as the right people did not witness the event. All foreign awards were earned the same way Imperial awards were and are a lot rarer than the Imperial. As above approx. 698 awarded in Bronze.

 

Peter

Allen.JPG

Bridge.JPG

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JulianR

I did notice that the Christian names of the ORs are given in the list of recipients, rather than initials.  Somewhere in the Australian Railway Coy records there is a WO2 who gets the DCM, and it is mentioned that two Australian NCOs get MM and a  British Sapper gets the French Medal as described above.

 

Julian

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HagarTheHorrible

I've emailed both the R.E museum and the Midland Railway Centre, Butterley.  If I get any replies I'll let you know.

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