Medal News

Volume 39, Number 4, April 2001

Time to fill the gap?

Volume 39, Number 4, April 2001

IN the usually uncontroversial world of medal collecting there are two subjects that always seem to rouse passions - the wearing, indeed existence, of the unofficial "commemorative" medals and the non-award, indeed non-existence, of a medal where one would have been expected. Often these two subjects are naturally and intrinsically linked with the unofficial medals serving to fill a "gap" in the market and although it isn't always easy to see what that market is or where there might be a gap (as perfectly demonstrated by a recent addition to this burgeoning genre - the "Cold War Victory" Medal with clasps such as Defence of NATO!) there are cases where the appearance of such a medal can be seen to be, if not justified, then certainly understandable. It is not difficult to see why those who fought on D-Day and the weeks afterwards feel they deserved recognition for that campaign as it might have been given in clasp form in Victorian times or why the millions who did National Service believe their years should be recognised as they are for "regulars" and nowhere are such feelings more evident than with the Suez Campaign of 1951-54 and the plethora of commemoratives that have recently become available to veterans of the Canal Zone. For many years now there has been an increasing interest in, and vocal support of, a medal for this Emergency especially since smaller actions have been awarded either their own medal (as in the case of Rhodesia) or a clasp on the General Service Medal; Suez veterans received neither and the anomaly is obvious to anyone who cares to look. True there are now a host of the "unofficial" medals that veterans can apply for, and many have, but they lack one crucial element, and it is that, the element of official recognition, that is so eagerly fought for despite what seems to be, even now fifty years on, a quite baffling stubbornness on the part of officialdom.. Although almost exclusively political rather than practical the reasons behind the Suez medal, or lack of it, are not quite as simple as not wishing to offend the Egyptian Government (although that undoubtedly played a significant part at the time and probably still does) and in his article this month Cyril Blackburn takes a closer look at the "Campaign" and the reasons why no medal or clasp has ever been issued for it. Also in this issue we print just a small selection of letters from readers, many of whom are veterans of Suez, all of which have been written in wholehearted support of the campaign to finally award a medal for that action. At their heart all of these letters ask the same question as the article "Why no medal?". This is a question we cannot answer and whilst, in the interests of editorial impartiality, we will print any letters we receive campaigning against such an official medal or GSM clasp, or indeed any letters categorically stating why no medal should be awarded, we cannot see ourselves receiving too many of them!

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