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Ivor Anderson

Military Medal - Suspender & Swivel Variations

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Ivor Anderson

Hi Everyone,

 

QUESTION:

I have an interest in WW1 Military Medals (MMs) and have purchased a number of them. My latest one was gazetted in February 1918 and I notice that the cap on its swivel is different to the others that I have (its top is rounder).

 

Were there slight differences in design and style of the suspender scroll and swivel attachment as the war progressed, or were different contractors used? Apologies if this has been asked and answered elsewhere, but I cannot find an answer online.

Edited by Ivor Anderson

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bif

Ivor,   Welcome to the GWF.  Info on the recipient and a picture of the item in question would be most helpful ?    Best, bif

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Ivor Anderson

Thanks bif,

I have benefited greatly from reading the GWF as a history teacher. I have now joined as I recently retired. Children learn so much by handling a WW1 item such as a medal and hearing about the experiences of the man who earned it. My great grandfather lost 3 brothers and a cousin in WW1 and came home with a GSW to his leg, so I grew up listening to my grandfather talk about it and I have all their medals.

 

I have attached 3 photos. First, one of what I observe to be the common swivel pin cap, one of the medal in question and a third of another variation. The scroll suspender on the MM appears to be the same as that used for the DCM? I have read that private contractors assisted with the naming of WW1 medals. My question is, were others apart from the Woolwich Arsenal involved in WW1 medal production or were the variations 'improvements' over time? The variations I observe seem to date from those gazetted in 1918. The second photo is the MM of Driver William Leigh 18451, 381st  By, 158th A RFA, gazetted 23-02-1918.

 

Glad to be on the GWF with other enthusiastic researchers. Best wishes, Ivor

 

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Edited by Ivor Anderson

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Ken Lees

Welcome to the forum.

 

As you are now retired and have so much time on your hands (yes, I'm joking!) may I suggest that you also join the British Medals Forum. There are numerous very knowledgeable people there, specifically in terms of medals. You may get more information there on this subject.

 

https://britishmedalforum.com/

 

Ken

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Ivor Anderson

Thanks Ken. I'll check it out as well. Don't know how I'd time to go to work! :)

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bif
2 hours ago, Ivor Anderson said:

Don't know how I'd time to go to work

Ivor, That's why most of the denizens here are retired.  I was hoping some of the resident MM experts, (which I am clearly not),  would weigh in ?

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Ivor Anderson

Thanks Bif,

I've made a big step forward as my recently ordered copy of Howard Williamson's "The Great War Medal Collectors Companion" arrived today! It has a lot of great information on the MM. He confirms that 'all Military Medals were struck at the Royal Mint' (p.380) and that 'Military Medals awarded for the Great war were all named in the same style, by the same contractor...and the style of naming was shared with the DCM' (p.401). Late issues and official replacements were named by the Royal Mint (p.378).

 

I still do not have an answer to my swivel cap variation query. As already mentioned the differences between the photos posted above seem to affect 1918 issue medals. Perhaps they were repairs or late issues? I notice that the WW2 attachment was different, and similar to the last photo above - see below:

 

Screen Shot 2019-11-21 at 17.23.48.png

Screen Shot 2019-11-21 at 17.26.18.png

Edited by Ivor Anderson

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robins2
On 18/11/2019 at 02:35, Ivor Anderson said:

Thanks bif,

I have benefited greatly from reading the GWF as a history teacher. I have now joined as I recently retired. Children learn so much by handling a WW1 item such as a medal and hearing about the experiences of the man who earned it. My great grandfather lost 3 brothers and a cousin in WW1 and came home with a GSW to his leg, so I grew up listening to my grandfather talk about it and I have all their medals.

 

I have attached 3 photos. First, one of what I observe to be the common swivel pin cap, one of the medal in question and a third of another variation. The scroll suspender on the MM appears to be the same as that used for the DCM? I have read that private contractors assisted with the naming of WW1 medals. My question is, were others apart from the Woolwich Arsenal involved in WW1 medal production or were the variations 'improvements' over time? The variations I observe seem to date from those gazetted in 1918. The second photo is the MM of Driver William Leigh 18451, 381st  By, 158th A RFA, gazetted 23-02-1918.

 

Glad to be on the GWF with other enthusiastic researchers. Best wishes, Ivor

 

military_medal_obverse.JPG

DSC_0026.JPG

s-l1600-6 2.jpg

unfortunately I have only two MMs in my collection  One British issue and the other Canadian, both have the flatter swivel top as shown in your 1st photo 

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Ivor Anderson

Thanks Robins 2. Yes, it is definitely the normal swivel top seen on the overwhelming majority of WW1 MMs. This is why I am puzzled by the other two shown. The middle one is especially unusual, but not unique:

 

 

s-l1600-32.jpg

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robins2

the India general service medals and a few Long Service and good conduct have very similar swivels, most with the flat top but a couple have the rounded top so appears not to be too uncommon to have a variance of swivels

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chaz

I have seen a couple of MM's where the suspender was removed , probably so the disc could be weighed in for scrap, and a subsequant owner has had a WW1 BWM suspender fitted..

Think it may have been discussed on the BMF and seen in auction catalogue write up.

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Ivor Anderson

Thanks Chaz. Why would they remove the suspender to weigh it for scrap? Was the suspender not sterling silver too?

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depaor01
15 minutes ago, Ivor Anderson said:

Was the suspender not sterling silver too?

If it's similar to the BWM then no. Scrapped British War Medals from the 70s had their suspending bars removed for that reason. I guess the MM was a similar scenario. 

Dave

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chaz

back in 1975, I picked up a trio and plaque to local regiment for £15, also a E11R GSM for the same , the silver was around $4.20 an ounce. the exchange rate was around 40p/1$.

not sure of the weight of a disc. back then, there wasnt the interest as there is now so, you will see quite a few pairs,  star and victory where the BWM is missing from the trio. A number of silver dealers melted the discs down but thankfully, a number squirreled them away and are probably sitting on them as their pension.

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Andrew Upton
5 hours ago, Ivor Anderson said:

Thanks Chaz. Why would they remove the suspender to weigh it for scrap? Was the suspender not sterling silver too?

 

4 hours ago, depaor01 said:

If it's similar to the BWM then no. Scrapped British War Medals from the 70s had their suspending bars removed for that reason. I guess the MM was a similar scenario. 

 

As I recall, the disc was .925 sterling silver, the suspender was a lower/tougher grade of .500 silver, hence why it was common for medals sold for scrap weight to have the suspenders mostly removed.

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depaor01
1 minute ago, Andrew Upton said:

 

 

As I recall, the disc was .925 sterling silver, the suspender was a lower/tougher grade of .500 silver, hence why it was common for medals sold for scrap weight to have the suspenders mostly removed.

Interesting.  I thought there was no silver in the suspension.  We live and learn.

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Ivor Anderson

That makes more sense Andrew.

 

The DCM/MM/MSM suspenders definitely look silver and seem identical. The BWM suspender is very different.

 

A 50% silver content would greatly increase the suspender strength while keeping a colour/tone match with the disc.

 

Photo of a nice DCM (1916) group to Herbert Sanders RFA attached as an example:

DSC_0548.jpg

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Ivor Anderson

The DCM, MM, MSM and LSGC Medal shared the same scroll design swivel suspender around WW1.

 

It appears that the MM design was approved by George V in March 1916.

He personally chose the laurel wreath and the 'For Bravery in the Field' inscription below the Royal Cypher from various designs provided by the Royal Mint.

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Ivor Anderson

By way of clarification of the findings - The medal suspender in question was a replacement for one previously removed for scrap. The actual disc was original.

The original WW1 swivel suspender should look like those in the post above.

 

William Leigh's MM has now gone to a good home with a collector of 158 RFA Brigade, with much of his life and service history documention:

 

 

DSC_0942.JPG

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Ivor Anderson

Driver William Leigh 18451 RFA - Military Medal listed in the LG 23-02-1918

 

Born: St. Patrick’s Parish, Wigan, 6th April 1882

1891 Census - 9 Boy’s Well Lane, Scholes, St. George’s ward, Wigan aged 9 with mother Elizabeth. 

1901 Census - 13 Driving Lane, Wigan. ‘Carter’ aged 18 with mother Elizabeth.

1911 Census - boarding at 4 Whelley, Wigan. Occ. ‘Carter’ aged 27.

 

Enlisted Wigan (lodging address 2 Great Acre, Scholes, Wigan) on 9-9-1914. 

Occ. ’carter’, 29 years 146 days (b.1882), 5 feet 2.5 inches, 121 pounds, brown eyes & hair. Occupation ‘carter’.     

Posted to 271 RFA 27-10-1914.

 

Married Ellen Barnes (b. 6th Oct. 1885) at St. Patrick’s, Wigan, 07-11-1914 (Mrs E. Leigh, 9 Boxall Road, Scholes, Wigan).

 

Entered France 18-07-1915 to 17-07-1915

              France 18-07-1915 to 14-02-1917

              Home   15-02-1917 to 23-05-1917 (Myalgia - muscle pain)

              France 24-05-1917 (Folkstone to Boulogne) to 17-01-1918

  Posted France 381 battery, 158 Brigade 6-6-1917.

  Home 18-01-1918 to 23-06-1918    

  Trench Fever 19-01-1918 to 12-02-1918

               (26-02-1918 to 6-6-1918 Hospital with ‘Trench Fever’, 

                Queen Mary’s Military Hospital, Whalley, Lancs.)

Military Medal in LG 23-02-1918

Back in France 24-6-1918 to 22-01-1919

Demobilisation - dispersal centre 23-01-1919. Entitled to War Medal, Victory Medal & 1914-15 Star.

2 Low Street, Wigan at demobilisation 19 January 1919 (aged 36).

MM sent to the Mayor of Wigan 18 December 1919 for presentation.

 

William and Ellen living at 18 Princess Street, Wigan in 1939 census - William a ‘general labourer’ & ARP Officer.

William died in Wigan April 1967 aged 85?. Ellen died in Wigan Oct. 1967 aged 82?.

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