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Remembered Today:

Posthumous MM


John_Hartley

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Pte William Mein, 16/Manchester, was killed in action at Montauban on 1/7/16.

His MM award was in the London Gazette of 19/2/17.

The list of Honours in the appendix to the Battalion History records that he was awarded it for action at Montauban. Alone amongst all the Battalion's awards it records against his name "posthumous". The award seems almost an afterthought - others for Montauban were in autumn 1916 editions of the Gazette.

Now then, you know, as I know, that you can't get a posthumous MM. So how did he get one?

My speculation so far:

Speculation 1 - someone told complete porkies. Unlikely?

Speculation 2 - he was posted as "missing" at the time, so when the MM was approved he wasnt actually "posthumous". However, he's buried at Dantzig Alley which, in my experience, contains "quickly recovered" burials - therefore unlikely?

What do you reckon, Pals?

John

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He had to have survived the action for which the MM was awarded. So may have died not long after, same day even, & recommendation was delayed.

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MM gazette dates are strange

Ive seen a MM gazetted in 41916 when the soldier was discharged in 1915 - before the MM was even instigated

I wasn't aware of the posthumous rule

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It might be a mistake to take any written records as being 100% reliable. :unsure:

I am reading a book by a WW2 Canadian soldier, wrong war but my point is really about written records.

The author says that his parents got an official telegram that he had been reported killed in action in the Dieppe Raid of August 1942. The news must have made the papers too because the soldiers old school, Riverdale Collegiate, had a minutes silence for the former pupil.

This soldier was not even in 2nd Canadian Division and never went near France in August 1942 or post June 1944 either. He first went into action in Italy, but survived to write this book.

His name was not even Smith or Brown or Jones, but Cederberg. :D

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Hi John,

My g'uncle, Pte E G Vaux, was at Ovilliers 1/7/1916 with the 2nd Middlesex. He DOW 12/7/1916 at Heilly Station. He appears in the same LG 19/2/1917 along with a number of other 2nd Middlesex men who were awarded MM's and died 1/7/1916. He at least has a grave, the others are on Thiepval Memorial.

I've always thought they they were awarded for deeds on 1/7/1916. My g'uncle lived for a number of days after 1/7/1916 but the others were kia. I don't know how to explain it but I'm glad they received MM's. I hope someone can answer as I've always wondered about this.

Paul

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Could* he have earned the MM shortly before 1st July 1916, but (given the distracting events that were about to unfold) the formal process got 'forgotten' for a while?

(* i.e. this is a total guess)

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Andy

I don't see any particular indication that 16/Manc were doing anything particularly noteworthy before 1/7, but it's possible.

Interesting that Paul also recounts similar tales from 2/Middlesex.

Brings me back to thinking that there might have been some porkies told in the report writing - although I'm more surprised to hear of it in a regular battalion than with a pals going into action for the first time.

Perhaps as John M says, the act of bravery was in the couple of hours of the actual attack on Montauban, but the man was killed later in the day whilst holding the captured ground.

John

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John,

Likewise, the 2/Middlesex were out of the line at Millencourt previous to entering the front line the morning of 1/7/1916 and were withdrawn the night of 1/2-7-1916. They were involved in a trench raid in May which is documented in the GWF War Diary Section but none of the men were recorded as having been award MM's for that action.

I seem to remember reading somewhere that although the MM was not a posthumous award, there was some latitude for higher ranking officers to recommend men who were no longer living. I think that would be especially so on momentos days like 1/7/1916.

Paul

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Sorry for my ignorance, but why can't the MM be awarded posthumously?

He had to have survived the action for which the MM was awarded. So may have died not long after, same day even.

Does this mean that someone can be awarded the MM if they subsequently die of wounds sustained during the action, but not if they die in the action? Doesn't seem logical or fair.

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I have a number of men who won an MM on 4 November 1918 and died that day. I am fairly certain that they won the MM for the action they were killed in - so someone must have fiddled the paperwork.

stevem

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Sorry for my ignorance, but why can't the MM be awarded posthumously?

Grace

Dunno the reasoning - but only the Victoria Cross and Mention in Despatches could be posthumous.

Perhaps there were a number of officers who, like you, thought it unfair. ;)

John

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Hi,

A number of NZ MMs were posthumous, and several were awarded for gallant acts on Gallipoli in 1915, which are proved by the citations and other recent research. I also have some medals to a NZ soldier whose officer recommended him for the MM for a particular action, but later stated "that because he died he could not recieve the award".

Interesting, to say the least.

Andy M

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I've had a nosy at the Battalion's other 1916 MM awards and none of the men died. Must mean that other acts of bravery on 1 July were not recognised as the men had indeed been killed. Mein seems to be a one-off.

John

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John , i have been researching a Sgt George Murray Clarke of the 16th Middlesex who was killed at Beaumont Hamel on 1/7/1916 and awarded the MM for his actions on this day - gazetted 21st September . The only explanation i can give is that his body was not recovered until 9th September so presumably he was maybe posted at the time as missing . Steve .

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One of my Fremantle soldiers who has the MM was shot in the head in the action for which the medal was awarded and lingered unconscious for a couple of hours before he died.

It was the last action his unit fought in the war and his officer would have known that he had not survived.

Yet the write up for the recommendation only stated that 'he was seriously wounded' during the attack, no mention of his death.

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Hi Steve,

I think your explanation concerning Sjt George Clarke makes a lot of sense. The men of the 2/Middlesex who appear 19/2/1917 in the LG were KIA on 1/7/1916 and have no known grave, with the exception of my g'uncle who DOW 12/7/1916.

Paul

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