Tag Archives: Mansfield

Some medals and a story

We had an interesting group of medals brought into the shop a few weeks ago, though it wasn’t obvious at first.
It was just three medals – a 1939-45 Star, Pacific Star and War Medal. They were in the box of issue, with an address label and had clearly been received through the post, looked at and stuffed back into the box, where they had stayed for the last seventy years.
Those of you unfamiliar with British medals I presume you are staring at the page with a glazed look. If you are familiar with them you are probably going “Aha!”
After a century of giving out campaign medals (our first general issue to all ranks being the Waterloo medal in 1815) we came up with a fairly complicated system for the Great War. I won’t go through it all here, but if you are an insomniac please let me know and I will have a crack at curing you.
In the Second World War we came up with what seemed like a simpler solution, but in the interests of economy they decided not to name them. The Australians, the South Africans and the Indians managed to find the money to do it, but we didn’t.
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WW2 campaign stars and war medal

We issued a range of cheaply manufactured stars with ribbons designed by King George VI. Unless they are accompanied by paperwork or named medals such as a Long Service Medal there is no way of putting a story to the medals.
It always strikes me as a shame when you just have a handful of anonymous medals.
Fortunately we know they were awarded to Mr P Ramsdale of 25, Brownlow Rd, Mansfield, Notts. He must have served in the Royal Army Service Corps or Army Catering Corps because that’s the return address on the envelope.
There are too many P. Ramsdales to isolate the exact one on the Ancestry Website, but there is a reference to him in the local paper – the Nottingham Evening Post of 9th January 1947.
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Percy Ramsdale in the Nottingham Evening Post

Armed with the knowledge that he was called Percy, it became a little easier to find information, though I couldn’t find exactly what I was looking for.
The Pacific Star isn’t common to the British Army and a group of three like this usually denotes someone taken prisoner at the fall of Singapore. Frustratingly, I couldn’t find any records to start with, but finally found them on Ancestry. I’m not sure if I’d been missing it up until then, or if it was a new release.
One of the records shows the names of his parents, and the Brownlow Road address. I’m not sure what this signifies as he seems to have been married with a son by then and I would have expected his wife to be on the record.
He is listed as being taken prisoner on 15th February 1942, the day of the surrender of Singapore (one of the worst, and most shameful British defeats, and we’ve had a number of them over the years), and appears on lists of prisoners held in Thailand for the rest of the war.
His year of birth is 1907, not 1905 as given here.
Screen shot of Percy Ramsdale's POW record

Screen shot of Percy Ramsdale’s POW record

It amazes me that a man released from Japanese captivity in the middle of 1945 could be back as a coal face worker by January 1948. They obviously made the m tougher in those days.
It’s not as if he’d had a great start in life. His father’s military career, for instance, lasting from 9th September 1914 until 14th October. He was clearly a patriot, to have enlisted so soon. But, from the reason for his discharge, I take it that his personal qualities as a husband and father may have been questionable. The reason he was “not likely to become an efficient soldier” as specified in King’s Regulations was noted as “Chronic Gonorrhea acquired before enlistment”. However, he does seem to have been a hard-worker – hotel groom (1911), miner (1907 and 1914) and railway worker (1939)
so he clearly did his best for his family.
It can be tricky looking back and making judgements. After all, Ramsdale Snr was just one of 416,891 men in the army treated for VD between 1914-18.
I wasn’t able to trace more information on Percy, until finding his date of death. He died in 1983 at the age of 77. However, I feel lucky to have found this much. It could easily have been different if the family had thrown the box away.
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The Pacific Star

 
 

Pizza, Shopping and Death

I’m not quite sure how to order the words in the title, so I settled for my order of preference. I like pizza, I sometimes like shopping, and although I’ve never tried it, I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t like death.

We had the pizza at Pizza Hut in Mansfield. It was the Lunch Buffet , featuring unlimited pizza and pasta with unlimited salad. They have improved the pizza selection since last time we had it. It used to feature very dull pizzas, such as cheese and tomato and cheese tomato and onion, which always made me feel I was being short-changed. That has changed and there was an excellent selection, including Hawaiian, pepperami, chicken and bacon, BBQ and Vegetarian. There were others too, but I  forget. The salad was OK, though the bowls were small so even Julia went back for a second helping.

The trick with all you can eat buffets is stopping before you are uncomfortably full. Or is that just me? Anyway, after eating two plates of pizza and two bowls of salad I felt comfortably full, and haven’t needed much for tea.

The shopping took place at the East Midlands Designer Outlet. It’s quite good, if you like walking round lots of shops that sell things you neither need or want.  Julia bought a flask and I bought some books. No suprise there, I suppose.

Finally, death. I had a few minutes to think, whilst sitting on a bench waiting for Julia, and for some reason started thinking of living wills. They asked me if I had one when I was filling in some of the interminable paperwork in hospital last week.

I don’t, and, after looking it up and finding out what one is, I’m a bit concerned that they thought they might need it.  I’m also concerned that at the age of 59 I didn’t actually know what one was. I assumed it was a recording you could play at the funeral for the assembled family with a few jokes, a bit of poetry and some wise remarks for the kids.

It could have been quite embarrassing to have handed the NHS a DVD with a couple of jokes and some paternal advice when what they really wanted to know was if they could feed me down a tube.

I think I’ll pass on that. I’m not sure anything worth eating can be fitted down a tube, apart from porridge and very thin chips.