Army gallantry under fire......The Times

Discussion in 'Postwar' started by Ron Goldstein, Dec 1, 2014.

  1. Sheldrake

    Sheldrake The Mayor of London's latest dress code

    Maybe the problem is that we are reading too much into the awards system.

    The medal system is flawed. Always has been and probably always will be.

    - Medals can only be awarded for events which were witnessed and identified. There are plenty of examples of gallant acts by men who were never identified.

    - There is a quota system. At Le Cateau a bunch of gunners went to rescue the guns. VCs were awarded to three. The attack on the bridges over the Albert Canal at Maastricht resulted in VCs to the pilot and navigator of one of the Fairy Battle aircraft. The air gunner received no award because he was judged to have no say.... There is a story of the CO of an Australian battalion refusing to single out only a proportion of his men and awarded MMs by ballot.

    - The award may be more of a reflection of the literary skills of the officer who wrote the citation than the event itself. Two identical actions could result in different awards or none.

    - The award is often made without the benefit of the full forensic facts or even the enemy side of the story. Medals have been awarded for the noisy occupation of empty trenches or even for inflicting friendly fire casualties.

    - Medals are disproportionately awarded to officers. The platoon carries out a valiant attack all exposed to equal danger - and the platoon commander is awarded the MC.

    The best that can be said is that most of the men who received an award deserved it. There were lots more who did brave things but were not recognised.
  2. Shiny 9th

    Shiny 9th Member Patron

    I have a strange case of a man whose actions over a period of time in Burma lead to a recommendation for an MM. This was turned down and he was awarded an MID in January 1946 and duly Gazetted. Then for some reason in 1950 this was upgraded to an MM, and duly Gazetted. I would love to understand the process by which this happened and find the paperwork.! A search of the National Archives reveals nothing.
    Last edited: Jul 27, 2020
  3. Robert-w

    Robert-w Well-Known Member

    There seems to have been, at one time, a sort of shadow system - at least during WW1 and perhaps it extended into WW2. I've come across a number of actions where some participants got medals and others MID but the MIDs later got foreign gongs. A good example is the evacuation of the Serbian Army to Corfu - a sort of WW1 mini Dunkirk. The system seems to have been if the allocation of British medals is not enough put those who lost out top of the list for the next issue of foreign gongs. However given that after 1940 most foreign gong issuers were based in requisitioned stately homes in Britain perhaps sources of these were more limited and additional processes may have been applied - such as retrospective MMs?

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