I did quite a lot of things this week, but it was mostly boring or requires too much tedious detail to describe it.
This morning I mounted a few medals, having finally remembered to take some cotton to work, and for the rest of the day, with a few stops to serve customers, I prepared things for eBay.
British War Medal
Burma Star Group
Ambulance Long Service Medals
These are the medals – a British War Medal from the Great War that is being given to another member of the family, a Burma Star group mounted for the family and two Ambulance Service medals mounted for someone who embarrassed his family by using safety pins on Remembrance Day.
Brass and Mother of Pearl RASC Sweetheart
RASC Silver bar brooch
RASC WW2 Sweetheart
These are three styles of Second World War sweethearts of the Royal Army Service Corps. The one below is First World War – you can tell this from the fact it’s Army Service Corps, as they weren’t made “Royal” until 1918. It’s also made in WW1 style, using tortoiseshell, which wasn’t popular in WW2.Finally, as you can see, it’s hallmarked for London 1917. That’s why hallmarked silver brooches are always more sought after, as they can be dated precisely.
Silver and tortoiseshell ASC WW1 1917
Silver and tortoiseshell ASC WW1 1917 Hallmarks
The marks are an indistinct maker’s mark, a lion passant for Sterling Silver, a leopard’s head for London and a “b” for 1917.
It’s not a bad job when you can spend all day handling things that are also the basis of your hobby. And I get paid…
Someone brought medals into the shop for mounting last week. Their father has tended not to bother about his wartime service too much and has only just been made aware that the French Government has been giving out the Legion of Honour to veterans who participated in the Liberation of France in 1944-5. He now has his, and has decided to go to France for a memorial event in September. When he does he will be wearing a properly mounted set of medals.
He seems to have had quite an active war, and I don’t begrudge him the medal, but I can’t help thinking that giving someone a medal because he was in a certain country 75 years ago, and has lived long enough to collect it, is slightly devaluing his contribution, and the contributions of many others, including the people who kept the war going in Africa, the Atlantic and the Far East (to mention but a few). I worked with several Normandy veterans in the past, and I’m feeling slightly saddened that they didn’t live long enough to get an extra medal.
If you were at Dunkirk you don’t get it. Same if you were in the RAF flying over France in 1943 but not 1944. Or at Dieppe or St Nazaire.
And that’s before we come to the irony that we were effectively at war with the French from 1940-42. The Vichy French killed a number of British and American troops in that time, and imprisoned others. I’ve always wondered what it must be like for veterans of those attacks to see the French posing as staunch opponents of the Nazis. You would think the least they could do would be to give a medal to our soldiers that they shot at.
Politics and warfare are always more complicated than they look.