British Military Medals – A Guide for the Collector and Family Historian
By Peter Duckers
Published by Pen and Sword (www.pen-and-sword.co.uk)
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This book has been written by a well known author who has produced a number of books on military history and numismatics. His work is of a consistently high standard and this is reflected in this title. The book considers the evolution of British medals. It starts with a treatment of Elizabethan awards and progresses to present day awards.
Campaign, gallantry and meritorious / long service medals are considered. The first chapter covers awards dated 1650 to 1800 and the second chapter details awards of the East India Company (1778-1839). Then it moves on to the more popular awards amongst collectors. The “origins” of the modern day campaign medals starting with the Waterloo medal is presented.
Then the “Retrospective” medals of 1847 – 51 are discussed. These consist of the Military General Service, Naval General Service and the Army of India medals. These medals normally command high prices at auction and the author gives them a good treatment.
Medals for major campaigns between 1850 and 1914 are then noted and there is an excellent section on General Service Medals. General Service Medals differ from normal campaign medals as the former tend to be awarded for service in minor engagements that are insufficient to warrant a campaign medal in its own right. This was often the case with small scale “colonial” campaigns and “punitive expeditions”. These medals include South Africa 1834-53, India General Service 1854 – 95, Canada General Service 1866 – 70, South Africa 1877 – 79, Cape of Good Hope 1880 – 97 etc..
After giving a very good treatment to pre-1914 campaign medals the author moves on to the very popular topic of researching medals and their recipients. He discusses the main archive facilities and gives special treatment to The National Archives and its holdings. Then the awards for the Great War and how to these awards is mentioned.
The author gives details about the 20th century General Service Medals and the popular Second World War decorations. This is followed by medals for major campaigns after 1945 and how to research medals and their recipients (1920 – 2008). The final two sections cover long service / meritorious and gallantry awards.
One remarkable issue throughout the book is the references to medal rolls and other sources of both primary and secondary information. These references are invaluable when researching medals. The author has listed the references within the entry for the medal in question so this easily facilitates research. This feature is exceptional and it aids research to a considerable degree. It saves time, as a quick glance at the book tells you whether there is an appropriate roll or reference book for the medal in question. This book is highly recommended and is an excellent choice.