The Raid on Zeebrugge

April 2008, Volume 46 No. 4
The passion survives

UNBELIEVABLY this month marks a real milestone for Token Publishing Ltd. Try as I might I can’t quite get my head around the fact that it has been 25 years since my then wife and myself took the decision to turn our backs on “steady work”, strike out on our own and become our own bosses but we did and now a quarter of a century (and one divorce) later the company has grown considerably—from a small rented office above a plumber’s shop in Hampshire where just two of us could work, to an office “complex” complete with 14 staff in beautiful Devon. Back then we stored the surplus Coin and Medal News magazines in the toilet —today, with not only the two magazines but a huge number of other titles to distribute, we have a purpose built warehouse! We are still very much a family business though and I’m both proud and honoured that my wife Carol and son Philip are very much an integral part of the business, indeed now as I reach my mid-sixties and take a step back a little, it is they who are eager to take Token into the future.

And what a future it is promising to be! Back in 1983 medal collecting was very much the poor relation of the numismatic world with coins still in the ascendancy and medal collecting viewed as something on the fringes of militaria and often tarred with the same brush used to tar the uniform and weapons aficionados. Coins are still enjoying something of a boom, but it is the medal world that has really taken off in recent years. The huge rise in the number of family history enthusiasts and the ease of access to research that the internet brings has led to the market expanding like never before, with thousands, if not hundreds of thousands of people all with an interest in medals and the story they have to tell. True, not all would class themselves as medal collectors, and neither would we want them to be—the prices have gone high enough in recent years without the pressure brought to bear by a mass influx of newbies all eager to snap up what they can; but where we might once have been seen as just another bunch of oddballs hoarding things away, only one step removed from those who collect train numbers, now we can tell people we collect medals and are interested in researching the stories behind them and not be met with blank stares, barely suppressed giggles or sympathetic nods! Our hobby isn’t a “trendy” one—we all know that, but, thanks to the raft of family and military history programmes, and the renewed pride in our armed forces, our military past is no longer a taboo and those who study it no longer considered reactionary nutters.

Back in 1983 the spectre of political correctness was just beginning to stalk the land, and even though the Falklands conflict was barely over, there were some very powerful voices speaking out against anything that might be seen to glorify the British Empire’s bloody past. History was suddenly off the agenda, except, it seemed, for the revisionists who were busily re-writing everything to make our evil Empire the bogeyman of the past responsible for all the world’s ills; that still happens sometimes of course and there are still stories of the PC brigade’s never-ending fight against common sense but they are fewer than they were and, when they do appear, the howls of derision from the right-minded amongst us see to it that they are swiftly buried again. We won’t stop Political Correctness entirely. We won’t stop idiots insisting we should be ashamed of what this country and its allies have done over the years and we won’t stop politicians trying to re-write the past, just to appease a vociferous minority, but thankfully those of us who don’t subscribe to their way of thinking no longer have to be ashamed of speaking out for what we believe and can once again be proud that in our own way we have helped preserve part of history. Two and a half decades ago we wondered whether a passion for history, let alone military history, would survive into the 21st century. Today the subject is enjoying an unprecedented surge of popularity—so here’s to the next 25 years!

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In This Issue

UPDATE16
Operational Honours
The latest honours and awards from the London Gazette
INSIGHT19
Disquiet over Hlobane's VC's
The winners and losers of this disastrous offensive
MILITARY ROOTS22
A family history
Another Cardew gives the ulimate sacrifice for his country
HEROES26
The fighting Admiral
Admiral Roger Keyes - a hero of the Zeebrugge raid
ANNIVERSARY29
The raid on Zeebrugge
Remembering this epic attack on its 90th anniversary
SPOTLIGHT33
The charge at Harbonniéres
A rare cavalry charge of the Great War
ON THE FRINGE37
The Insignia of the King's & Queen's Messengers
A fascinating study of these historic badges of office
ANNIVERSARY FEATURE40
Celebrating 25 years
Token's silver celebration

Regulars

THE EDITORIAL PAGE5
NEWS AND VIEWS6
MARKET SCENE13
BOOKSHELF41
LETTERS TO THE EDITOR43
ON PARADE44
DEALER'S LISTS45
MEDAL TRACKER46
CLASSIFIED ADVERTISING49
DIARY53