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Medal Roll card explanation

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Medal Roll card explanation

Postby karenorrell » Fri Nov 18, 2011 11:29 am

Hello All, Can anyone explain fully to me what all the information on a medal roll card means? My 7 year old son was very interested when a classmate brought in a photo of the Victoria Cross an ancestor of his was awarded and immediately wanted to take in something similar!

I haven't found any VCs awarded, but I do have a gg uncle who was awarded the military medal and a bar to the mm along with a family tale of one of his acts of bravery. I have a copy of his medal card from ancestry, but I don't really understand much about what all the abbreviations mean :shock:

The card states:
Name - Cawthorn, Herbert
Underneath is (MM) with a cross surrounded by dots
Corps - RE Spr (Royal Engineers, Sapper?) and underneath, RE CPl. Cpl is written in blue ink and there is another cross surrounded by dots on the line between Spr and Cpl.
Regimental Number 86036

Victory - another cross with dots round it and roll and page number (RE/101B46 - 9649)
British - "--" marks to indicate as above
Star - 15 written in front of star plus roll and page number (RE/3B - 1956)
Theatre of War first served in - (1) France
Date of entry therein - 17/11/15

The family story goes:
There was a terribly injured soldier (my dad believes he was a Captain?) and my gg uncle crawled out, got him off the barbed wire and dragged him back to safety, thereby saving his life. The soldier's father was very high up in the Shell company and got my gg uncle a job for life there after the war in gratitude. My dad seems to think my gg uncle was mentioned in despatches, but I don't know how you find out if this is true and exactly what this means - is this instead of a medal or bar, or in addition to, or pertaining to the medal or bar? I don't know if the story can be verified.

The London Gazette shows:
16 Nov 1917
Military Medal
86036 2nd Cpl. H. Cawthorn, R.E. (Walthamstow).
21 Oct 1918
86036 2nd Cpl. H. Lawthorn, M.M., R.E.
(M.M.'s gazetted 19th November, 1917.)
11 Feb 1919
Bar to Military Medal
London Gazette dated 21st October, 1918.
86036 2ndCpl. H. Cawthorn, M.M., R.E.
(Gazetted as Lawthorn,)

As he received a bar as well, I presume this is 2 acts of bravery?

I would like to give my son as complete a picture as possible (although unfortunately I do not have a picture of my gg uncle) of what his ancestor did in WW1. I've had to point out that other ancestors who were KIA were just as brave and some of them did not have time to earn any gallantry or bravery medals and will give him pictures of them and the regiments they were in. As he is so interested, I would like to encourage him - it's no bad thing for the next generation to understand the sacrifice made.

Hoping a knowledgable soul will have time to set me straight!

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Re: Medal Roll card explanation

Postby Sylcec » Fri Nov 18, 2011 11:10 pm

Hi Karen

You seem to have done a pretty good job already in researching and identifying records in connection with Herbert Cawthorn.

Spr - Sapper, as you rightly interpret, is the lowest rank of soldier in the Royal Engineers, equivalent to Private in an infantry regiment. Corporal is the first permanent promotional step (allowing for a Lance Corporal in between).

For an explanation of information on the Medal Index Cards, suggest you look at the explanation on The National Archives sit: This includes links to further information held on TNA site.

Official war diary for your ancestor's unit may mention the event for which he was awarded the MM. These are also held at TNA.

In general terms a most useful site for WWI is "The Long Long Trail" - which is searchable - lots of information available on the REs - but it is not clear which unit your ancestor served with. If I find more, will get back to you.
Good hunting! Sylvia
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Re: Medal Roll card explanation

Postby callbrian » Sat Nov 19, 2011 11:29 am

Hi Karen,
Sylvia is quite correct with her reply, the two sites she mentions are very helpful. I have just found this site (which is new to me) which could help, I can't see any subscriptions listed, although you do have to register, it may only relate to what you already know.
This site gives descriptions of medals etc. as does the NA website.

Good Luck

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Re: Medal Roll card explanation

Postby meekhcs » Sat Nov 19, 2011 3:02 pm

Hello Karen

Following up Brian's post is a transcription site. There is a Herbert Cawthorn mentioned, but it will cost a few pounds to view the info.

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Re: Medal Roll card explanation

Postby GeraldL » Mon Nov 28, 2011 6:06 pm

A bar added to a medal is awarded for subsequent acts of bravery that would have seen an award of the medal had it not already been awarded. A Mention in Despatches is the "lowest" award for an act of bravery and is in the form of an oak leaf attached to the ribbon of the appropriate Campaign or War Medal. Both MM awards, and the MID will be entered on the Medal Index Card for the individual.
Gerald Law
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Re: Medal Roll card explanation

Postby swilkes » Thu Oct 16, 2014 7:22 am

I am also looking for clarification on two medal index cards. I am doing some research on our family history and have found two separate medal index cards for my great granddad Stanley G. Wilkes. Firstly, can anyone tell me if it is possible to have two medal index cards for the same person? Secondly, can anyone explain to me what the numbers/letters on the cards mean? I have attached copies of both cards.


Royal Engineers Pioneer.jpg
Royal Engineers Pioneer.jpg (193.68 KiB) Viewed 5031 times
Private in Machine Gun Corps.jpg
Private in Machine Gun Corps.jpg (177.37 KiB) Viewed 5031 times
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Re: Medal Roll card explanation

Postby brunes08 » Thu Oct 16, 2014 8:03 am

I have posted a brief response on General Research where your query is duplicated.
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