Medal News

Volume 60, Number 3, March 2022

Lost in Portugal

Volume 60, Number 3, March 2022

Inevitable issues AS ALWAYS happens when a new medal is instituted controversy is not far behind. In this case the furore surrounds the Platinum Jubilee Medal (PJM), awarded to members of the Armed Forces, Prison Service, Police and other Emergency Services with five or more years’ service behind them who are actively still serving on February 6 2022 (70 years since Her Majesty the Queen ascended the throne). That seems simple enough but inevitably there have been problems—chief amongst which seems to be the fact that whilst many, particularly in the Armed Forces have yet to be awarded their medal others, apparently mainly from the Police, are selling theirs on online auction sites (see “News & Views”, page 6). Now I have never been an “early adopter”, never seen the need to rush out and buy the first example of something that comes up for sale, preferring instead to watch the price stabilise. But others hold a different view, and when the first PJM appeared on eBay, a good fortnight before the medal was officially instituted, it attracted a plethora of bidders and went for what I consider to be a hefty price. Having seen the money that one fetched, other sellers jumped on the bandwagon and now a number of the medals are up for sale. This has caused more than a little consternation amongst a number of different groups—there are those miffed that others are selling their medals when they haven’t yet seen hide nor hair of theirs; some are annoyed because they find selling medals you’ve only just been awarded somewhat distasteful, and still more are irritated because they are not able to sell their medals at all whilst still serving (the police aren’t bound by the same rules as the armed forces it seems) and thus not able to make themselves a quick few hundred pounds. I’m actually with the second group, I find something a little bit “off” about selling your medal the moment you get it, but that’s just my opinion, others would disagree and, as has been pointed out, we wouldn’t have a hobby at all if medals were never sold on by the recipients. Does when they sell really make that much of a difference? Of course the selling of the medals “early” is only one issue people are having with this award as that old favourite of eligibility has come to the fore once again too, with various people on forums, social media and even in the national press bemoaning the fact that they “missed out by a day” or whatever. This always happens, whenever the eligibility for any medal is announced there is always somebody who doesn’t make the cut; either they haven’t served for long enough, didn’t serve in the right place, left the service the day before the cut off or there’s some other reason why they aren’t going to get the medal they think they deserve. There’s no easy way round this, there has to be criteria for awards and those criteria are always going to omit somebody. One national newspaper suggested that the PJM should be awarded to everyone serving on February 6 regardless of length of service—all well and good until you realise someone who joined up on February 5 would be eligible whereas somebody else with decades of impeccable service and a chest-full of gallantry and campaign medals who retires on the same day would miss out. That hardly seems fair does it? So make the medal retrospective, award it to veterans too? Well no, the sheer logistics of this would make that impossible and besides such mass awarding of the medal would surely cheapen it, take away any sense of pride for the wearer. One thing is for sure, were it awarded to everyone who had ever served, the first one on sale certainly wouldn’t have made £460! There is no answer to the eligibility issue, somebody will always miss out and somebody will always feel cheated. The one thing they can do, perhaps, is take solace in the fact that feeling that way is nothing new. One of the groups I used to have in my collection (and which I greatly regret selling, although to be fair I regret selling every medal I’ve ever parted with) was a TFWM and World War I Pair to a man in the 4th Devons. Tagged onto the front of the group (which was fully mounted for wear) was a 1914–15 Star which had been crudely erased (with a wire brush by the looks of it) and the man’s own name scratched into it. The paperwork that came with the group showed the soldier had added “1914–15 Star” in his own handwriting under the list of medals he was eligible for! Obviously he spotted others of the Devon Regiment sporting the Star (men of both the 1st and 2nd battalions received either the 1914 or 1914–15 Star) and decided that he deserved one too—so self-awarded it! Whether there will be any self-awarding of the PJM remains to be seen, but certainly even a hundred years ago the sense of resentment at not getting a particular award was there—I wouldn’t mind betting readers have other, even earlier, examples too. Do let us know, as such stories are what make this hobby so interesting for us all.

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