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Medal Citations

Tue May 07, 2019 9:47 pm

I'm trying to find out why my great-uncle was awarded the Military Medal during WW1. I've found the medal index card, and also the entry in the London Gazette from December 1916, but there are dozens and dozens of Military Medal recipients' names listed, so they obviously couldn't give the citations for all of them. I have also located the appropriate War Diary for his regiment on Ancestry but now don't know how to find what I'm looking for. What would be a typical time span between the act of bravery that earned the medal, and the man being awarded it? Would this be mentioned in the War Diary?
His daughter (now in her 80's), knew that he had been awarded the medal, and also that he had received a gunshot wound to the head, but like many men at the time he would not talk of his experiences, so she would love to know why the medal was awarded.

Re: Medal Citations

Tue May 07, 2019 11:50 pm

As regards your question about the time span between the act of bravery that earned the medal, and the soldier being awarded it, I can only offer the case of my maternal grandfather.
He was awarded the Bar to the DCM in January 1919, following his act of bravery occurring on 21 Sept 1918. Fortunately, both (full) citations appeared in the London Gazette.
He also received the Military Medal and the Bar to the MM in early 1918. But like your great-uncle, the London Gazette did not publish a citation for his MM, other than the citation for the medal itself.

You could try contacting the Regimental museum to ask if they have any information on record regarding your great-uncle's MM. They could also assist with War Diary research.

My grandfather's Regimental museum in Scotland provided me with invaluable research assistance, particularly with his MM and DCM medals. Good luck!

Re: Medal Citations

Wed May 08, 2019 10:17 am

My grandpa was awarded the Military Medal during his time in France, and the award was gazetted by appearing on page 10022 of the Supplement to the London Gazette, published on 28 September 1917. In common with all awards of the Military Medal it carries no citation. According to a report that I commissioned,
"The announcement of the award of the Military Medal was usually somewhere up to three months after the event, but this was highly variable. The gazetting date of Jack's MM would indicate an event from June to July 1917"

My emphasis on "highly variable".

I do wonder if the amount of bureaucracy between action and gazetting altered the time taken - might an award for an action in France get processed faster than one from Mesopotamia? And was there a growing backlog either during the war as a whole or during each year? (Military Crosses and others listed in the New Year or Birthday Honours awards tend not to have had citations - were they bundling up a load into one job lot for publication to get over a backlog?)

You might care to join the Great War Forum and see if anyone can provide any better advice than my "up to 3 months" - that report was done a while ago and lots of work has been done recently on publishing MMs but whether this includes any quantification of time between action and Gazette, I've no idea.

Re: Medal Citations

Fri May 10, 2019 11:24 am

Thanks for the replies, that's helpful. I'll try going back to the war diary for starters before exploring other avenues.

Re: Medal Citations

Fri May 10, 2019 1:44 pm

Have a look at a site called the longlongtrail (I can't add the link as the site does not allow). Or just search for military medal ww1 and you should find the website.
cheers, Anne

Re: Medal Citations

Wed Jun 05, 2019 8:26 pm

Your best bet would be to look in the local newspaper, which usually gave a good account of a medal recipient's war service and often included details of his life, such as school and church attended, workplace, hobbies, etc. Unfortunately this news can appear at any time between the event and the appearance in the Gazette, or even later if the medal recipient returned home on leave and was given a reception by his village or town.

Re: Medal Citations

Wed Jun 26, 2019 10:55 pm

Hello Chipmunk1953, Individual MM citation certificates were issued with the medal, but hardly any of these paper documents have survived as family hand-downs. It's thought that the MM citation master list for WW1 was lost (along with the 5 million soldiers service records) in the fire when the warehouse storing most WW1 documents was bombed during the 1940 London Blitz. However there is a method using the Schedule number on the soldiers' MM medal index card (which you say you've got) to nail down the date and engagement when the MM was originally cited in the field (but not the actual reason) from which deductions can be made, plus helps to zero in on the target dates to check in the unit war diary. I can do all this for you (no charge) if you would care to supply the following information. (1) name, rank, regiment and number of your great-uncle (2) The LG publication date & page number he's listed in (3) the Schedule number on the bottom R/H of the MM medal index card (this is not the campaign medal index card found on Ancestry for the 1914/15 Star, BWM & VM, but the Military Medal index card found on The Genealogist or downloaded from TNA Discovery website).
Regards Lyndale.

Re: Medal Citations

Thu Jun 27, 2019 5:00 pm

Definately post your query on the Great War Forum. The Long Long Trail is their website. Their members are an absolute gold mine for informtion. If anyone can give you an answer it'll be one of their members.

Re: Medal Citations

Mon Jul 08, 2019 10:13 pm

Thanks Lyndale for your offer, the details are as follows:
His name was Leonard Platt, he was a Private in the 11th Btn Royal Fusiliers, number 10221.
Original date of the London Gazette was 21 December 1916, page 12445 (this was a supplement)
On the MM card there is a hand-written reference number (but top right not bottom right), it is 68/121/111.

Re: Medal Citations

Thu Jul 11, 2019 8:33 am

Dear Chipmunk1953,
I’ve sighted Leonard Platt’s MM medal card and there is no schedule number recorded, but from a book I have pairing MM schedule numbers with LG Supplement publication dates, Leonard’s MM fell within MM schedule numbers 42000 – 44000. The reference book tells me that these MM’s were issued for acts of bravery in the Somme area between 25 June and 10 July 1916. As you probably know on just first day of the Somme offensive, 1st July 1916, it resulted in over 60,000 British casualties, of which 29,000+ were killed. The principal locations for the MM awards during this time--spread were at High Wood, Gommecourt, Redan Ridge, Mametz and Thiepval. I can drill down even further, because Leonard was in the 11th Bn Royal Fusiliers (54th Brigade of the 18th {Eastern} Division). I’ve now sighted the war diary pages for the 11th Bn RF from 23/6/16 to 9/1/17. The one for the 1/7/16 is the relevant diary page, because before that day the Bn was waiting to go into the line and by the 2/7/16 it had been devastated with 227 casualties (out of 650 odd) of which 70 were killed and thus the Bn was pulled out of the line until September. The attack by 11 Bn RF on 1/7/16 was up the southern face of Mametz spur; specifically attacking the German first line of defences known as Pommiers Trench, Pommiers Redoubt, Maple Trench, Beetle Alley and White Trench. It’s recorded that there was fierce hand-to-hand fighting for these positions, before being driven back to their start lines. Therefore it can be said with certainty that Leonard was cited for his MM during the 1st July 1916 attack, which awards are typically not published in the LG until several months later: for Leonard on 21/12/16.

The war diary page for 1/7/16 is very brief, stating “see separate after-action report”. This is a 3-page typewritten report of the days' attack signed by the 11 Bn RF commanding officer, which generally mentions that there was many acts of bravery during the day, but only highlighting two named soldiers who were awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal (DCM) which is the gallantry award for ‘other ranks’ next ranking below the VC, which explains why these two were particularly named. The Bn, after being reinforced, was in another major fight in September at Thiepval, then eventually I came across the war diary page dated 19/9/16, when the divisional general awarded gallantry medals to those men quote..."cited on 1 July 1916", but no list of names were entered, except for the two DCM men and an officer receiving the DSO. I have saved all five pages mentioned above and will send you a personal PM with my direct Australian email address, from which you can email me direct so that I can send these pages to you as attachments.

Generally speaking, there are usually only two reasons for the award of the MM in an attacking situation (1) for gallantry in the attack itself, such as reaching the enemy trenches and driving the defenders out virtually single handily, thus helping to progress the attack for others, or (2) some form of rescue of one or more wounded soldiers from no-man’s-land or the enemy wire/trench, whilst still under fire. This is only speculation, but in my opinion Leonard was singled out for something along these lines during the attack on 1 July 1916, which went in at 7 am and was pulled back at 11 pm. The two DCM awards were for reason (1) above.

I assume that you’ve read Leonard’s service record, which has survived intact and is on Ancestry and FMP? This is very detailed and includes a lot of information on his wounding on 17 Feb 1917, when hit by a bullet on the R/H back of his neck, just below the base of his skull, which put him out of the war permanently, later discharged with the Silver War Badge and a Kings Commendation on 17 Oct 1917.

NB: email notifications are not working, so be sure to check your Posted Note inbox to pick up my email address. Cheers Lyndale
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