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Remembered Today:

ANTHONY EDEN, MC


voltaire60

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 The Times and other media have carried a story that the Great War medals of Anthony Eden, later Prime Minister, are to be auctioned in May 2021, according to a "puff" put out by the auctioneers Woolley and Wallis, of Salisbury.  The auctioneers stated that there was some doubt about what earned him the award, save that the rescue of  his platoon sergeant was likely it.   The matter was illuminated by Lord Lexden in the Times letters page subsequently.  Should cause a degree of interest.

 

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Edited by voltaire60
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Do you recall that John ‘Pass the sick bag, Alice’ Junor - he was editor of the ‘Sunday Express’ and wrote a column therein? I remember that when Harold Macmillan made his ‘selling the family silver’ speech which was interpreted as critical of the Thatcher government, Junor wrote a VERY critical piece on Macmillan, and said that for years he had falsely claimed to have been awarded the MC. 
 

I remember nothing more about this - no evidence or libel case or apology. Perhaps Macmillan simply treated the whole thing as being beneath contempt, and ignored it.

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Steven Broomfield

I have no knowledge of any such allegation, but I do recall reading that Super Mac carried a bit of a grudge that he didn't receive an MC.

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Opening Post on subject of one 'Eden'

also next post

Then a post on some MacMillan fellow

Likewise next post after that

 

Wandering somewhat aren't we chaps?

What of Eden's MC?

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7 hours ago, michaeldr said:

What of Eden's MC?

 

     Eden's MC is not known to be different in it's background to that of pretty much any other junior officer of the Great War.  But Eden was a bell-weather for the post-war generation and his attitude to the war and the attitude of others to his war record is one of interest in the continuing  structure we call "remembrance"   Eden seems to have been genuinely modest about his role as an infantry officer with 21 KRRC. His late memoir, "Another World 1897-1917" shows a complex man who kept not only the horrors of war within him all his life but also his loyalties. I regard it as one of the best of the Great War memoirs as it is understated. I believe that he remained loyal to his former ORs for the rest of his life-it was probably the only time that he mixed with the "lower orders" for any length of time.

    There is a contrast with Harold Macmillan- For instance, Macmillan styled himself "Captain Harold Macmillan" in the interwar years-Eden, as far as I am aware, did not bump up his war record. The forthcoming sale is not of itself that important- but it may raise a little interest and give an indication of our continuing construction of "remembrance"-Let's see how it goes. 

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V60

 

Thanks for the reply and the tip off re the memoir

His maiden speech was in 1924 on Air Defence as 'Captain Eden.' This was by no means unusual at that time however; Hansard shows that speakers using service ranks well outnumbered the occasional 'Mr.' and 'Sir'.

 

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You're right about Macmillan styling himself Captain (maiden 1925) but then Clement Attlee also addressed parliament as Major Attlee in the early 1920s 

I wonder when this particular fashion wore thin?

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The 21st KRRC were at Ploegsteert Wood in early August 1916. The WD states for 9-16 August: "Officers took out patrols nightly to enemy's wire and parapet, but failed to encounter any of the enemy so were unable to bring in a prisoner". Eden's MC may have been for one of these raids where they failed to get through the wire and near enough enemy positions.

A 2nd Lt. Law was listed for an MC in the 21st's WD at the end of July for a significant night raid on 10/11 July. A CSM McEwen C/12003 got a DCM for the same 10/11 July action. There is a very detailed report of that action in the WD. 2nd Lt. R.W.R. Law's MC was gazetted 25 August 1916 (29724) and CSM McEwen's DCM on 22 september 1916. Perhaps these very recent prior awards to the 21st Bn. caused Anthony Eden's to be declined at the time. The context of the battalion's situation at the time matches the later account of what Eden's MC was for. This illustrates that 'birthday honours' gazette awards usually had relevant reasons behind them, even if the action was significantly earlier than the award.

Edited by Ivor Anderson
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Thanks for reminding me about Major Attlee- and I was also unaware that Eden had been styled as Captain Eden in Hansard. My memory was that that when he was,effectively, head-hunted for Leamington, his war record stood him in good stead  but he did not unduly plug it.  Yes, there were plenty of other MPs who used their former ranks, which is an interesting little sideline and comment on the Great War by itself. 2 small observations:

1)  The use of former ranks  indicates,to me at least, a greater acceptance  of the military in British society after the war- that the system of conscription, etc was here to stay. Of course,there were plenty of people before the Great War who used former military ranks- eg The British penchant for hiring  Colonels to be Chief Constables. The difference seems to be that the inter-war use is by men who were patently not military careerists.

2) It is interesting to note that ,as far as I am aware, no MP ever styled himself as being a former Other Rank, which may be an oblique comment on the British and "class" . (With the possible exception of Sidney Silverman-something deep down tells me that he went out of his way on occasion to stress he had been an OR)

     Quite when the use of military styles of address  by those who served in the Great War ended, I am not sure-  Macmillan,from memory, seems to have changed in the earlier part of the Second World War and it had disappeared completely with him by   his career end- 1963.  I expect Lord Lexden would be happy to work out who the last MP to have served in the Great War was-and how they were usually addressed. (Including the use of the term "Honourable and Gallant" for ex-Great War men in the House of Commons)  Two events of the Second World War suggest that it could have been problematic if pushed to extremes- the appearance by Roger Keyes in the uniform of a full admiral during the Norway Debate in 1940- and the election in 1945 of  Noel Mason-Macfarlane for Paddington- a Lieutenant-General (and elected for Labour to boot!!  And DSO + MC and two bars as well))

     I would still recommend "Another World" to you- Not strong on the day to day nitty-gritty of service with the Yeoman Rifles but Eden was essentially a shy man and an intellectual -the book is reflective and thoughtful- the bond between Eden and his men comes across well, not only for the war years but subsequently..

    Anyway, lets see what interest there is when the medals come up next year-it should be interesting. Just a small sideshow to me on how the memory of the Great War works in the UK.

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The use of military ranks for civilians, this “post-First World War archaism” seems to have been the cause of potential resentment as late as 1941, with Oliver Lyttelton’s appointment as Minister-Resident for the Middle East.  This from Roy Jenkins’ biography of Churchill:

 

 

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Dai Bach y Sowldiwr
1 hour ago, Ivor Anderson said:

The 21st KRRC were at Ploegsteert Wood in early August 1916... 

...Eden's MC may have been for one of these raids where they failed to get through the wire and near enough enemy positions.

So not on the Somme as stated by Lord Lexden?

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1 hour ago, voltaire60 said:

 

2) It is interesting to note that ,as far as I am aware, no MP ever styled himself as being a former Other Rank, which may be an oblique comment on the British and "class" . (With the possible exception of Sidney Silverman-something deep down tells me that he went out of his way on occasion to stress he had been an OR)

     


In contrast to Germany, where AH emphasised his OR status. He would encourage his entourage, Goering for instance, to wear elaborate uniforms covered in gold braid, while he wore a simple uniform, his only decoration being his Iron Cross and Wound Badge, his only sign of status being his peaked cap.
 

Here’s his poster from 1933. “What the king conquered, the prince formed, and the field marshal defended, was rescued and united by the soldier”:

 

 

 

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6 minutes ago, Dai Bach y Sowldiwr said:

So not on the Somme as stated by Lord Lexden?

Ploegsteert Wood during July and up until they moved on around 18th August 1916 (WD page below).

They were in a major action at Deville Wood in mid- September 1916. They suffered terrible casualties, inc. their C.O., Lt. Col. the Earl of Feversham.

 

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Steven Broomfield
2 hours ago, michaeldr said:

You're right about Macmillan styling himself Captain (maiden 1925) but then Clement Attlee also addressed parliament as Major Attlee in the early 1920s 

I wonder when this particular fashion wore thin?

 

Wandering somewhat, aren't we :whistle:

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Steven Broomfield
5 hours ago, michaeldr said:

Hoist by my own petard!

:o:blush:

 

 

:innocent:

 

To be fair, I think the subject of the GW service (or otherwise) of those who led in the next conflict (and after) is well worth a discussion. There can be no doubt that the experiences they underwent were very defining of their decision-making between (say) 1935 and 1945. I think this thread could well expand into that.

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28 minutes ago, Steven Broomfield said:

I think this thread could well expand into that.

 

Works for me. I'm liking this one already. Provided that the circumstances of the MC award turn up at some stage I think the digression would be a Good Thing.

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