Honours, Awards, Orders, Decorations, National Gifts

and The Memorial Plaque and Scroll

Awards and Decorations for Gallantry

Victoria Cross (VC)

"It is ordained that the Cross shall only be awarded for most conspicuous bravery, or some daring or pre-eminent act of valour or self-sacrifice or extreme devotion to duty in the presence of the enemy"   The VC is the highest decoration that can be awarded to British and Commonwealth forces.   It was instituted by Royal Warrant in 1856 (but was made retrospective to the Autumn of 1854 to cover the Crimean War) and has been bestowed only 1354 times and can only be bestowed for actions "in the presence of the enemy".

  

Full details of Cheltonians who have received the VC can be found here.

Distinguished Service Order (DSO)

The award of the DSO is generally not given to commissioned officers below the rank of Captain and it is almost always awarded for gallantry in action.   In order of precedence, the DSO ranks below the VC and above the MC.

 

 

 

Distinguished Service Cross (DSC)

Known as the Conspicuous Service Cross when instituted, it was awarded to warrant and subordinate officers of the Royal Navy who were ineligible for the DSO.  In October 1914 it was renamed the Distinguished Service Cross and available to all naval officers below the rank of Lieutenant-Commander. Bars for second awards were authorised in 1916, and in 1931 eligibility for the award was enlarged to include officers of the Merchant Navy. In 1940 Army and RAF officers serving abroad naval vessels also became eligible for the award. Since 1945 fewer than 100 DSCs have been awarded. As a result of the 1993 Review of gallantry awards and resultant changes to the operational gallantry award system, this award is now available to both officers and other ranks, the DSM having been discontinued.

Military Cross (MC)

There was no gallantry award, lesser than the VC and DSO, for junior officers and warrant officers until shortly after the outbreak of the First World War when the MC was instituted. Originally awarded to Captains, Lieutenants and Warrant Officers of the Army (including the RFC), it was subsequently extended to include equivalent ranks of the RAF when performing acts of bravery on the ground and there was even provision for the Royal Naval Division and the Royal Marines during the First World War.  Awards were extended to Majors by an amending warrant of 1931. As a result of the 1993 Review of Gallantry Awards and resultant changes to the operational gallantry award system, this award is now available to both officers and other ranks, the Military Medal having been discontinued.

Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC)

Established in 1918 for Officers and Warrant Officers of the RAF in respect of acts of valour while flying in active operations against the enemy.  As a result of 1993 Review of gallantry awards and resultant changes to the operational gallantry award system, this award is now available to both officers and other ranks, the distinguished Flying Medal having been discontinued.

 

 

Distinguished Conduct Medal (DCM)

The need for a gallantry medal for other ranks was first recognised during the Crimean War, although previously the Meritorious Service Medal (MSM) had very occasionally been awarded for gallantry in the field.   Since 1916 the DCM has ranked as a superior decoration to the Military Medal and was thus the second highest award for gallantry in action (after the Victoria Cross) for all army ranks below commissioned officers and was available to navy and air force personnel also for distinguished conduct in the field. As a result of the 1993 Review of gallantry awards and resultant changes to the operational gallantry award system, the decoration has been replaced by the Conspicuous Gallantry Cross.

Distinguished Service Medal (DSM)

The medal, instituted in October 1914, is awarded to Chief Petty Officers, Petty Officers and ratings of the Royal Navy (or army and air force personnel of equal rank serving with the fleet) who show themselves to the fore in action, and set an example of bravery and resource under fire, but without performing acts of such pre-eminent bravery as would render them eligible to receive other medals.

 

 

Military Medal (MM)

The Military Medal was instituted in March 1916 and awarded to NCOs and men of the Army (including RFC and RND) for individual or associated acts of bravery not of sufficient heroism as to merit the DCM.   In June 1916 it was extended to women, two of the earliest awards being to civilian ladies for their conduct during the Easter Rising in Dublin that year. As a result of the 1993 Review of gallantry awards and resultant changes to the operational gallantry award system, this award has been replaced by the MC which is now available both to officers and other ranks.   In the Great War a total of 115,600 + 5796 first bars + 180 second bars + 1 third bar were awarded.

Distinguished Flying Medal  (DFM)

Introduced at the same time as the DFC, it was awarded to NCOs and men of the RAF for courage or devotion to duty while flying on active operations against the enemy. During the Second World War it was extended to the equivalent ranks of the Army and Fleet Air Arm personnel engaged in similar operations. As a result of the 1993 review of gallantry awards and resultant changes to the operational gallantry award system, this award has been replaced by the DFC which is now available both to officers and other ranks.

Air Force Medal  (AFM)

Instituted in June 1918 at the same time as the AFC, it was awarded to NCOs and men of the RAF for courage or devotion to duty while flying, but not on active operations against the enemy.   The medal is made of silver and is 42mm tall 34mm wide   The ribbon is 1.25 inches wide, and consists of alternate red and white stripes leaning 45 degrees to the left. A red stripe is to appear in the bottom left and upper right corners when viewed on the wearer's chest.  Until 1919, the stripes were horizontal.

 

Campaign Medals

"Pip, Squeak and Wilfred"

Pip, Squeak and Wilfred are the names given to the trio of commemorative medals issued to personnel of the British and Empire Forces who took part in the Great War.   Pip, Squeak and Wilfred were characters in a comic strip which first appeared in the Daily Mirror on 12th May 1919 and became very popular in the 1920's coinciding with the issue of the medals to forces personnel.

 

 

The 1914 Star (Pip)

The Star was awarded to all officers, non-commissioned officers and men of the British and Indian Expeditionary Forces, (including civilian medical practitioners, nursing sisters, nurses and others who were employed with military hospitals), and a very small number of Australian and Canadian servicemen, who served in France or Belgium on the establishment of the British Expeditionary Forces between 5th August 1914 and midnight of 22/23rd November 1914.   The medal was not issued for service afloat.   It is often called the 'Mons Star'.   In 1919 King George V authorised a clasp bearing the dates for those who had actually been under fire during that period.   The majority of the recipients of the star were officers and men of the pre-war British Army, the "old Contemptibles" who landed in France soon after the outbreak of the First World War and who took part in the retreat from Mons, hence the popular nickname of Mons Star.   About 378,000 were issued.

The 1914 - 1915 Star (Pip)

This medal is exactly the same pattern as the 1914 Star with the exception of the scroll which is of a different design.   Awarded to all those British and Empire Forces, and civilians attached to those forces, who saw service in a  theatre of war between 5th August 1914 and 31st December 1915, except for those eligible for the 1914 Star.   About 2,350,000 were issued.

 

 

The British War Medal (Squeak)

Awarded to those who qualified by serving in the British or Empire Forces or within certain recognised voluntary organisations in all theatres of war and in certain service in the UK during the period 5th August 1914 to 11th November 1918.   Those who served in Russia during 1919 - 1920 were also awarded this medal.   It is usually found with the Victory Medal but was awarded singly.   Some 6,000,00 were issued.

 

 

The Victory Medal (Wilfred)

Awarded to military and civilian personnel who served in a theatre of war during "The Great War for Civilisation 1914 - 1919".   It could not be awarded alone and was usually issued to those who had received the 1914 Star or the 1914 - 15 Star, or the British War Medal.

 

 

 

The Territorial Force Medal

Issued to all personnel of the Territorial Force who had completed four years service by 30th September 1914 and who had served outside of the UK in the period 5th August 1914 to 11th November 1918.   Those personnel who had previously qualified for the 1914 Star or the 1914 - 1915 Star where ineligible.   Only 34,000 medals were issued.

 

 

Mercantile Marine War Medal

The medal was awarded to those mariners who received the British War Medal and also served at sea on at least one voyage through a danger zone. The medal was also awarded to those who had served at sea for not less than six months between 4th August 1914 and 11th November 1918. The medal was awarded by the Board of Trade.

 

 

Awards for Service

Silver War Badge  (SWB)

The Silver War Badge is not a medal or decoration but was awarded to Army personnel  "Who have served at home and abroad since 4th August 1914 and who on account of age or physical infirmity arising from wounds or sickness caused by military service have, in the case of Officers, retired or relinquished their commission, or, in the case of men, have been discharged from the Army".   It was issued from 1916 on authority of Army Order 316/16.

National Gifts

The Princess Mary 1914 Christmas Gift

In November 1914, an advertisement was placed in the national press inviting monetary contributions to a 'Sailors & Soldiers Christmas Fund' which had been created by Princess Mary, the seventeen year old daughter of King George V and Queen Mary. The purpose was to provide everyone wearing the King's uniform and serving overseas on Christmas Day 1914 with a 'gift from the nation'.   The response was overwhelming, and it was decided to spend the money on an embossed brass box, based on a design by Messrs Adshead and Ramsey. The contents varied considerably; officers and men on active service afloat or at the front received a box containing a combination of pipe, lighter, 1 oz of tobacco and twenty cigarettes in distinctive yellow monogrammed wrappers. Non-smokers and boys received a bullet pencil and a packet of sweets instead. Indian troops often got sweets and spices, and nurses were treated to chocolate. Many of these items were dispatched separately from the tins themselves, as once the standard issue of tobacco and cigarettes was placed in the tin there was little room for much else apart from the greeting card.   The 'tin' itself was approximately 5" long by 3" wide by 1" deep with a double-skinned, hinged, lid. The surface of the lid depicts the head of Princess Mary in the centre, surrounded by a laurel wreath and flanked on either side by the 'M' monogram.   At the top, a decorative cartouche contains the words 'Imperium Britannicum' with a sword and scabbard either side. On the lower edge, another cartouche contains the words 'Christmas 1914', which is flanked by the bows of battleships forging through a heavy sea. In the corners, small roundels house the names of the Allies: Belgium, Japan, Montenegro, Servia, France and Russia are at the edges, each superimposed on three furled flags or standards.

The Memorial Scroll

The Memorial Scroll

King George V Letter

In 1916 the Government set up a committee "to consider the question of a memorial to be distributed to the relatives of soldiers and sailors who fall in the war.....".   It was decided that the commemoration should take the form of a bronze plaque and the inscription "He Died For Freedom" would form part of the design.   In addition to the plaque, a scroll with a suitable inscription would be issued.

A public competition to design the plaque was authorised and the winning design from over 800 entries from all over the Empire was announced in The Times on 20th March 1918.   The design, "Pyramus", by Edward Carter Preston, was put into production in December 1918 and over 1 million were produced.

The plaques commemorated those men and women who died between 4th August 1914 and 10th January 1920 and up to and including 30th April 1920 for those who died subsequently from attributable causes.

The plaques themselves were dispatched separately from the Scroll in a stiff card wrapping enclosed within white envelopes bearing the Royal Arms.  Both memorials were accompanied by a letter from King George V which bore his facsimile signature and read as follows:

"I join with my grateful people in sending you this memorial of a brave life given for others in the Great War.   George R.I.

The scrolls started to be manufactured in January 1919 and were sent out in seven and a quarter inch long cardboard tubes.

 

More details of the Memorial Plaque and Scroll can be viewed here.

The Memorial Plaque  -  often called the "Dead Man's Penny"

Pte Alex Gordon Cummings

The Memorial Plaque and photograph of Private Alex Gordon Cummings.   He was killed in action at Passchendaele on 30th October 1917 whilst serving with 28th Battalion London Regiment (Artists Rifles).  He had lived in Promenade Villas, Cheltenham, prior to his enlistment at Marseilles, France, whilst serving with the Red Cross.   He has no known grave and is listed on the Tyne Cot Memorial To The Missing, Belgium.   He is commemorated on the Cheltenham War Memorial and on the Cheltenham Grammar School Roll of Honour.

LCpl Frank Edward Preece

The Memorial Plaque and photograph of LCpl Frank Edward PREECE, 2nd Battalion Devonshire Regiment, who was killed in action on 27th May 1918 in the actions at the Bois de Butte in the Rheims area of France.   He is buried in the Jonchery-sur-Vesle British Cemetery near Rheims.   He was born in Birmingham but his family later resided at 10 Mapledene Terrace, Fairfield Avenue, Cheltenham.   He is commemorated on the Cheltenham War Memorial.

The Cheltenham Memorial and Appreciation Scrolls

The Cheltenham Memorial Scroll presented to the family of Cpl Harold James NEWMAN, 1st Battalion Coldstream Guards, who was killed in action in Ypres area of Belgium on 31st July 1917.

 

The Scroll was signed by the Mayor, Mr John Bendall, and read:  This tribute is offered by the Mayor, Aldermen and Burgesses of the Borough of Cheltenham to the honoured memory of ....................................... who died for his King and Country in the Great War, making the Supreme Sacrifice in the cause of liberty and justice.

 

This photo was obtained, with permission, from the Graham Sacker collection.

 

The Cheltenham Appreciation Scroll presented to Private Walter Emmanuel MILLS, RAMC, who resided with his family at 35 Naunton Crescent, Cheltenham.

 

The Scroll was signed by the Mayor, Clara Winterbotham, and read:  The Mayor, Aldermen and Burgesses of the Borough of Cheltenham desire to place on record their high appreciation of the service rendered to King and Country during the Great War, 1914 - 1918 by: ......................

They recall with gratitude the splendid manner in which their fellow townsmen answered duty's call on land, in the air, on the sea or under the sea, and upheld the cause of liberty and justice.

 

They welcome his return and offer their hearty wishes for his health and happiness.

 

 

The Territorial Force Association Memorial Scroll

The Territorial Force Association Memorial Scroll presented to the family of LCpl Alfred William George Enoch, MM, 5th Battalion Gloucestershire Regiment, who was killed in action in action near Ovillers, France, on 21st July 1916 during the Battle of the Somme.

 

The scroll states:   "To Mrs C Enoch.   The Territorial Force Association for Gloucestershire desires to express its warmest sympathy with you in the loss of your gallant son No 2528 LCpl A W Enoch, 5th Bn Glos Regt, who gave his life for his Country, in action, in France, on 21st July 1916.   England to-day, perhaps more than at any time in her glorious history, expects every man to do his duty, and it must be some consolation to you to feel that, in making the ultimate sacrifice your son justified, to the supreme point, his Country's trust in her sons.   Signed: President.   Chairman.   Secretary.

 

This photo was obtained with permission from Mr Enoch, of Leckhampton, with grateful thanks.

Canadian Honours, Awards, Orders, Decorations and National Gifts

Pte William Cyril Pearce, 781236, 46th Battalion Canadian Infantry, born in Cheltenham on 16th June 1890 and killed in action in the Potijze area of Belgium on 23rd October 1917.   Also shown are the Memorial Cross, presented to William's mother, and William's British War Medal, Victory Medal and Memorial Plaque.

 

Photo very kindly presented by Mrs Kathleen (Pearce) Kibble of Victoria, BC, Canada, with grateful thanks.

 

 

| Home Page | Area Covered | War Memorials | Roll of Honour | Uncommemorated | Cemeteries | Investigations | Observations

| Commemorations | Images | Facts and Figures | Victoria Crosses | The Book | Memorial Scroll | Links | Acknowledgements |

 | Latest News | Timeline | VAD Hospitals | Site Map |