Heard in high places

May 2001, Volume 39 No. 5
FOLLOWING my Editorial Comment in the April issue and the appearance of the article "Suez 1951-54-Why No Medal", we have been inundated with letters, e-mails and telephone calls in support of the campaign for "medallic justice" for veterans of that campaign. In addition Lieutenant Colonel Ashley Tinson mentioned the injustice in "Medals, campaigns and anniversaries", published in February's edition of Medal News. It would seem that our words and, of course, the protestations of many veterans and their next of kin over the past 50 years have at last been heard where it counts most-in Parliament. I asked our regular contributor Christopher John how the campaign is seen by those who are in a position to make a difference and I invited him to write this month's Editorial. He has responded with an up-date on the situation:

A growing number of independent-minded Members of Parliament are taking the Government to task over its refusal to seriously consider the granting of the General Service Medal to those who served Queen a.nd Country in the Canal Zone from October 15, 1951, when the Egyptians abrogated the 1936 Treaty with Britain, to July 27, 1954, when the two governments reached an unstable agreement.

In late February, Mr John Healey (MP for Wentworth) asked the Prime Minister whether he was aware that this year is the 50th anniversary of the deployment of British servicemen in the Suez Canal Zone and that, during that occupation, 60 were killed and 600 wounded by hostile fire? Does he recognise, he added, that the Govemment can be proud of their record on reviewing military matters, whereas previous Governments have ignored long-standing injustices? He ended his short statement with a request to the Prime Minister to use his office to ensure that, this year, the Committee for Honours, Decorations and Medals finally gets the chance to consider the case for awarding the General Service Medal to our troops who took part.

In reply, the Prime Minister confirmed that he was aware that the official committee that looks at those matters is aware of that case. He continued "I am sure-I will make sure myself-that it will consider very carefully any further representations including the ones that he has just made."

As the Cabinet Secretary himself is Chairman of the HD Committee, the shortened title, the Prime Minister's personal intervention should ensure that, at last, the facts of the conflict are considered afresh. To many military historians, the facts themselves overwhelmingly support the case for granting a suitable medal to those who took part in the campaign.

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In This Issue

A changing scene by Brigadier Stuart Ryder
Awards for Northern Ireland
The Tank Museum by Paul Hill
A visit to this outstanding museum
Some rare presentations at St Helena by David Marr
Presenting medals on this lonely island
The "Coloured" South African serviceman by Brian Johnson Barker
The medals of a minority
A class of 1865 by Kevin Joynt
Photographs from the School of Musketry
A Naval Legacy by Kevin Joynt
Two generations in the Canadian Navy
From small beginnings by Barry Langridge
An unclaimed medal
The Royal Marines and the Boxer Rebellion by Michael Pinchin
Casualties in the Third China War