News & Blog

Remembering Waterloo

Posted on Mon, 1 June 2015 by Alyson Thomas - Medal News

Striking a balance

A few years ago we had a back-log of articles waiting to go in MEDAL NEWS: a backlog of some 18 months. Unfortunately a number of these were of the “Uncle Bill got a trio” type which, whilst usually very well written, had a limited appeal to the wider audience. After all if you’re an 11th Foot MGS collector then the 1914/15 trio awarded to Bill Bloggs of the Sherwood Foresters wasn’t necessarily going to float your boat. With this in mind we made a request for other types of article, ones with broader appeal, with a little more historical research behind them. Articles perhaps with rolls attached, be they rolls of honour or nominal rolls of medal recipients—anything that would be of interest to others and perhaps help them with their research. The response was gratifying and whilst we have still been receiving the “Uncle Bill” style article we have also received a large number of others too. However, not as many as we would have liked—more people it seems want to write about the medals of the men in their own collection than embark on major research work, so we are putting the call out again: we really would like some in-depth research article with broad appeal. They can be on any medallic subject, be it naming, manufacture, ribbons, recipients, battles, anything at all, but we would like them to be a little broader than one man’s experiences in the trenches.

Of course, saying that, we don’t want to discourage every “Man behind the medal” story, far from it; the man (or woman) behind the little bits of metal and silk is what really makes our hobby special. Without the stories of heroic deeds, exemplary service or loyalty to the crown, the things we collect would be no more than pretty gewgaws, aesthetically pleasing artefacts (and not always so—some are downright dull), we might as well collect coins! It is the story of the recipient that makes collecting medals so downright fascinating, but there is a danger of sometimes focusing solely on the man and forgetting the medals—we are, after all, MEDAL NEWS and not “Man behind the Medal News”! I have lost track of the number of articles we receive that talk just about the man’s service, often very ordinary service replicated a million times across a million soldiers or sailors, with one small sentence at the end stating that after he had endured what he endured he was awarded a British War Medal and Victory pair. Sadly such efforts, though well-meaning and well written are too often rejected as they simply don’t have a broad enough appeal for our audience, they don’t add to our readers’ knowledge. However, if your grandfather was a Bomber Pilot who won the DFC, if your great great uncle was at Ladysmith or his uncle at Isandhlwana, if your great grandfather was captured on the retreat from Mons or your grandfather was on the beaches of Normandy, then of course we would like to hear from you. Interesting stories that will grip the reader, add to their own knowledge and help with their own research are always welcome—even ones about Uncle Bill occasionally! So please don’t be put off by our previous requests: if you have a cracking story about a great group in your collection let us know about it. We would just also like articles about medals themselves as well!