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Military Medal Research - query as to how they got the MM


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Hi,

I am researching soldiers from my home town who died in WW1 and have a soldier who got a MM - I have researched all local and national newspapers for information as to how he got this MM but cannot located anything.  FWR shows the date that he was awarded it noted in the London Gazette but nothing as to what he did to earn this.  I am just wondering if anyone knows of any other sources of information that I could research that may provide some light on the actions he took to earn him this award.  Many thanks in advance.

 

Ann

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Hi Ann

 

Sometimes the War Diary of his unit might mention him and the reason for his award.

 

Regards

 

Russ

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Try the Battalion War Diary available from The National Archives.

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Can you give his name and regiment?

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 - A search of the forum might turn up that he's already been researched.

 - Try a google search for the same reason.

 - Forum member @Ivor Anderson has researched a number of MM awards and so may be able to give some tips.

 - From what I've read here, I believe the British Medals Forum has a long running thread that has tried to gather surviving citations.

 - As well as the Battalion War Diary, is there a regimental history.

 

Otherwise name, number and unit and let the collective brains trust of the GWF go to work:)

 

Cheers,

Peter

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Hi all,

Many thanks for your response.  I don't why I never thought of looking at the battalion war diary - (as I got information on a relative this way! doh!!).  His name is James Boyle - Service # 9723 Scots Guards.  FWR notes:

Gazette Info:  Gazette Issue 29608. M. M. “His Majesty has been graciously pleased to approve to approve the reward for Distinguished Service in the field, dated 3/6/1916

Gazette Date: 2/6/1916

Gazette Page:  5587

But it doesn't give any information as to how he got his MM.  He was KIA 15/9/1916 and is commemorated at Thiepval.

 

I will look at the Battalion War Diary and will also look to the regiment to see if they have anything.

 

Thanks a lot everyone - appreciate your advice.

 

Ann

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Ivor Anderson

Hi Ann,

Yes, the 1st Battalion WD is the first place to look here as the 3-6-16 London Gazette mainly contains backdated awards for 1914-15. It was the first gazette in which the MM was generally awarded, as the MM was only created in 1916. Howard Williamson says that many of them were downgraded DCMs or upgraded MiDs. He also says that this LG has a schedule no. range of 19961 to 28920, so James' MM schedule no. (23281) is roughly mid-range (perhaps for 1915?). 

John Boyle's MM Index Card image from TNA:

Screen Shot 2021-04-17 at 14.26.31.png

Edited by Ivor Anderson
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Might be worth looking through all of WD. I think that some medals were presented in the field

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Ivor Anderson

Yes, best to check backwards through the WD from September 1916. According to his MIC (image off Ancestry) he arrived in France on 17 March 1915:

Screen Shot 2021-04-17 at 14.22.18.png

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Hi,

 

I have looked through the battalion War Diaries and the only think that I can see that could perhaps give rise to the MM is the following as there is no other mention of individual actions that would merit such an award:

 

1/5/1916:

In the Trenches: Increased artillery activity in the afternoon.  A listening party consisting of 1 Corporal and two men while proceeding to their post were surprised by a party of Germans who had apparently been awaiting their coming.  The Germans opened fire killing the Corporal and one man and wounding the other who ultimately reached our trenches.

(From researching CWG it would appear the 2 soldiers who died was Corporal: Hugh Hay Miller Lance Corporal #13302 Age 22 Died 1/5/1916 Buried: Potijze Wood Cemetery, Belgium and the Private was George Wishart #11770 Died 1/5/1916 Buried: Potijze Wood Cemetery, Belgium).

 

I can't be certain that this is James Boyle that I am researching but it is the best guess so far and will remain a mystery.  Many thanks for all your assistance and tips and suggestions - really grateful to you all.

Ann

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Ivor Anderson

1 May 1916 seems too close to the LG date of 3 June 1916 to be the action in question. Have you checked the WD back to March 1915?

It won't mention MMs prior to March 1916, but he may get a mention for gallantry prior to that.

The WD for March to July 1915: http://discovery.nationalarchives.gov.uk/details/r/C7351892

The WD August 1915 to 1919: http://discovery.nationalarchives.gov.uk/details/r/C7351843

There could be a mention of his MM award or of his death in a local newspaper that includes details of how he earned the medal.

Edited by Ivor Anderson
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brianmorris547

I had a look at the WD of The Guards Div A&QMG (WO 95/1197/2) and in the Routine Orders dated 22/04/1916 (Ancestry p 385/672)  is the award of the MM for 8747 Sgt J Muir 1 Bn Scots Guards. He is in the same LG 29608 p 5594 as J Boyle (p 5587). The only other one from 1 Bn SG in in Routine Orders 28/05/1916 (Ancestry p 347/672) 8800 Pte H Swift and he is in the LG 29701 August 1916. 

A good chance that they were backdated awards so check LG 29608 for other 1 Bn MMs and you might find Service or Pension records which will confirm this.

Brian

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Ivor Anderson

Thanks Brian.

The MM Index Card for 8747 Sgt J Muir 1 Bn Scots Guards has no schedule number on it to compare, and a different order reference to Boyle's.

However, it has a recommendation date of 24/4/16 beside the AO reference instead of a schedule number. 

http://discovery.nationalarchives.gov.uk/details/r/D6199892

Harold Swift's MM Card has no schedule no. or date on it, and a different order reference as we'd expect, being listed in a later LG.

As you say, there may be others to the 1st Bn. in the 3 June 1916 gazette: https://www.thegazette.co.uk/London/issue/29608/data.pdf

Though that first general gazette mainly recognised past individual acts of gallantry and schedule numbers were not yet always recorded. 

The Guards Regiments figure well in this gazette, but the AO dates of April-May 1916 only show the dates they were recommended.

 

EDIT. Pte. Thomas Gutherie 11366 of the 2nd Bn. Scots Guards has a schedule no. 23312 and the same AO ref as Boyle - 68/121/5.

         Pte. John Muirhead 12071 of the 2nd Bn. Scots Guards has no schedule no., but an AO ref. 0137/2564 dated 3 May 1916.

         Pte. J. Simpson 13833 also of the 2nd Bn. Scots Guards has no schedule no., but an AO ref. 0137/2564 dated 3 May 1916.

         Sgt. Peter Smart 9036 also of the 2nd Bn. Scots Guards has no schedule no., but an AO ref. 0137/2564 dated 3 May 1916.

Edited by Ivor Anderson
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brianmorris547

Ivor

I noticed this in the Routine Orders 11/04/1916 (Courtesy TNA WO 95/1197/2 / Ancestry p 368/672

It seems to relate to retrospective recommendations for the MM.

Brian 

ro217.jpg

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Ivor Anderson

Thanks Brian, So the MM was instituted in March 1916 and the Guards Division was requesting recommendations by 11th April 1916.

The 'last 2-3 months' would be acts of gallantry from January 1916. The 1st Scots WD for Jan & Feb 1916 seems uneventful, and they were in training behind lines for most of March until they were back in the trenches near Ypres from the 26th: 

30th March - ORs 24 killed, 47 wounded, 8 missing due to heavy shelling.

5th April - heavy shelling - 4 killed, 16 wounded.

30th April 4 ORs wounded.

1st May - Corporal and one OR from 'listening party' shot. Other wounded man gets back to trenches - possibility the wounded survivor is Boyle. 

 

Many of the other Guards Division MM Index Cards have the same AO ref. as Boyle's 23281 (68/121/5) and are dated 3/6/1916 - the LG date.

They were of course fighting side by side in the same Division: e.g.

   7251 Sgt. Finley D. Benson 1st C. Gds. Schedule no. 23278 (68/121/5)

12411 L/Sgt. Harry Boneham 1st C. Gds. schedule no. 23274 (68/121/5)

 

 

 

 

Edited by Ivor Anderson
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Ivor Anderson
On 22/04/2021 at 21:06, Crossar said:

1/5/1916:

In the Trenches: Increased artillery activity in the afternoon.  A listening party consisting of 1 Corporal and two men while proceeding to their post were surprised by a party of Germans who had apparently been awaiting their coming.  The Germans opened fire killing the Corporal and one man and wounding the other who ultimately reached our trenches.

(From researching CWG it would appear the 2 soldiers who died was Corporal: Hugh Hay Miller Lance Corporal #13302 Age 22 Died 1/5/1916 Buried: Potijze Wood Cemetery, Belgium and the Private was George Wishart #11770 Died 1/5/1916 Buried: Potijze Wood Cemetery, Belgium).

If the surviving member of this listening party was James Boyle he may appear in a casualty list for May 1916?

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brianmorris547
On 17/04/2021 at 13:15, Crossar said:

 

Gazette Info:  Gazette Issue 29608. M. M. “His Majesty has been graciously pleased to approve to approve the reward for Distinguished Service in the field, dated 3/6/1916

 

Ann

Just a minor correction. The MMs start on page 5586 under the heading "Awarded the Military Medal". J Boyle is on p 5587.

Ivor

Are we assuming that J Boyle might have been wounded. I was looking for some REs in the Times OCLs and checked Scots Guards wounded from mid April 1916 to mid June 1916. I could not find J Boyle but there again I could not find a list that reflected the 47 wounded on 30/03 and the 16 wounded on 05/04.

Brian

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Ivor Anderson

Thanks Brian.

I only thought a casualty list mention might help confirm whether he was the survivor from the 1st May. I think 1st May is a bit late for the 3rd June gazette.

 

The preamble to the MM listings on p.5586 is interesting:

'Military Medals will be transmitted to the various Record Offices early next month, after the engraving has been completed'. 

Hopefully he at least got his ribbon badge presented prior to being KIA on 15/9/1916.

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