Napoleons Egyptian Campaign

Posted on Fri, 4 December 2015 by Phil Mussell
Posted in: Medal News
Napoleons Egyptian Campaign A timely reminder

THE recent Aldershot Medal Fair had a superb collection of medals on offer, as Mark Carter’s fairs always do, however, there was one group on display that knocked all others into a cocked hat. It wasn’t on display on a dealer’s table, and it wasn’t being offered by an auctioneer in their next sale but was to be seen on the chest of one Lewis William Trinder, erstwhile a Petty Officer in His Majesty’s Royal Navy and a veteran of both the Normandy and Arctic campaigns who later served in the Far East. Lew, now a spritely 91-year-old, sat proudly at the Royal British Legion’s “Poppy Appeal” table—his white Arctic Veteran’s beret on his head and his medals, including the Arctic Star, the Russian 40th anniversary Medal and the Ushakov Medal, gleaming on his chest. Over the course of the day he probably had more people talking to him than anyone else stalling out at the show. His presence there served to remind us all that these funny little pieces of metal and silk which we collectors seek and covet are something far more. To millions of men across history they were and are the tangible reminder of their service and a visible means of showing others where and when they served. Sometimes it is easy to forget, in our pursuit of additions to our collection, that each one of the pieces we acquire wasn’t produced as a collectable, no matter how we see it today, but rather was once worn with pride (or in the case of casualties lovingly polished in remembrance by grieving next of kin). And it is also easy to forget what those men, and women, went through before they got to wear that medal. Lew, for example, was on board HMS Magpie during the Battle of The Atlantic and, in June of 1944, found himself on board the ship in the early hours of the morning of the 6th where they were anchored off the coast of Normandy believing they were part of a dummy invasion, designed to draw fire from German guns and convince the Nazi High Command that Normandy was the target when in fact the real invasion was taking place to the north at Pas de Calais. In short Lew and his shipmates believed they were being used as a decoy target and were ready to be blown out of the water at any moment. Only when the landing craft started streaming past him as dawn broke did he realise that this was the real deal and he was about to help in the biggest seaborne invasion in history; the Magpie was there as part of an evacuation plan in case the landings failed. After his service in Normandy, Lew might have thought he was entitled to a slightly easier time, but that was not to be as HMS Magpie headed north to the Arctic Circle as part of the convoys helping the stricken Soviet Union.

To talk to Lew, a soft spoken, true “gentleman”, is to be reminded that behind every medal is a man and behind every man is a story, and whilst we collectors may talk about die varieties, naming, prices, clasps, suspensions et al, those are our issues, they are things important to us and no one else. At MEDAL NEWS we have always been slightly suspicious of the whole “retrospective” awards issue but meeting Petty Officer Trinder has reminded us once again that that suspicion comes from a collector’s standpoint. The men and women who served don’t care two hoots about whether a collector is aggrieved by a new award or not, all they want is the recognition they feel they deserve. Meeting Lew was a real pleasure, it reminded us, and the many collectors who took the time to talk to him, just what medals actually are and that he, and millions like him across history, deserve our remembrance and respect. Collecting medals is an interesting and rewarding hobby but sometimes it is good to be reminded that these things aren’t just bits of metal and for some they mean far, far more.

Lew is featured on page 6 of the news.

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