Churchill's WW2 Medals

Discussion in 'Military History and Militaria' started by RP578, Feb 25, 2011.

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  1. RP578

    RP578 LE Book Reviewer

    Apologies if this has been done before, but was at Blenheim Palace yesterday and saw Winston's ribbon rack on display. I see that he was awarded the 1939-45 Star, Africa Star, Italy Star, France & Germany Star, Defence & War Medals.

    Question is, how did he qualify for those medals? I know he visited those theatres and often took to wearing a variety of uniforms (mostly RAF). Could this have been a Reservist type thing (n.b. the War Medal was for 28 days full time service)? Surely he wouldn't have qualified as a politician/Hon.Col. making flying visits to the troops?
  2. RP

    In some respects Churchill was an uber walt.

    I used to have a dead set against him for the usual reasons - Gallipoli, diverting the 7th division, etc etc

    There was no way in hell he qualified for most of the WW2 campaign medals he put up. The Royal Warrants for them were very specific and Winston did not meet them.

    What makes it worse is that these were not something that turned up in the mail worked out by some war office clerk. To receive them they had to be personally applied for and proof of service as per the royal warrant had to be provided.

    I'm not suggesting that Winnie did this himself. He probably had some minion do it for him. At the same time he was applying for unearnt medals he purloined the wartime cabinet documents; public records, to use as the basis of his memoirs, for personal profit.

    That is as black as Churchill can be painted. In spite of his waltistic habits he gave up a great deal of aristocratic bling and an opportunity to suck on the public tit by taking up the prime ministership.

    Although a flawed person, Churchill's greatness was manifest when he alone stood against the absolute evil of the third Reich.

    For this epic stand of principle, a bit of uniform fetishness and waltism can be easily forgiven.

    As pointed out here recently, Churchill paid his penance for Gallipoli with a stint in the trenches.

    The first bleat of nearly every exposed walt is the claim that the walting is mitigated by some sort of contribution to charity, usually Forces related. Churchill is the sole case where his perpetual contribution to charity was better known than his waltism.

    From his iill gotten gains Winston established the 'Churchill Fellowship'

    Churchill never qualified for a good proportion of his fruit salad.

    An exception can be made for him because he was exceptional.

  3. I don't think that you had to apply for some of the medals - my father had the 1939-45 star, War and Defence medals and never left UK. He certainly didn't apply for them (he wasn't that sort) and was bewildered as to why he had got them when they turned up in the post one day.
  4. RP578

    RP578 LE Book Reviewer

    Hiya Mick,

    Ref your remark about "uniform fetishness", I think there's definitely something in that. I wonder if Churchill wasn't one of those blokes who deep down always essentially views the military and warfare as a game of toy soldiers and is in love with the pageant of it all.

    Still, given his active service in India, South Africa, Sudan and in WWI, I'm at a bit of a loss why he'd feel the need to add more medals. Lets face it, his ribbon-rack looked like the proverbial "Dulux wallchart" even without the WW2 set.
  5. Chippy - the Churchill fellowship wasn't established by Churchill. It came about as the result of donations given by the public when he died. There was a general consensus that a lasting memorial should be established that would fully recognise the very broad range of Churchills talents and abilities - everything from artist to bricklayer, soldier to statesman (no matter what you think of his abilities in those areas) several decades later the Churchill Trust is still going strong....

    Can't add anything to the medals debate though!
  6. The Defence medal was awarded for non-operational service in the UK, working in HQs, training bases and airfields and members of the Home Guard, it was also awarded for non operational service overseas.
    The War medal was awarded to all fulltime personnel of the armed forces wherever they were serving, provided they had served for at least 28 days between 3 September 1939 and 2 September 1945.
    All the stars could be given, at certain periods, after 1 or more days service.

    Depending on his status (e.g does the WW2 Prime Ministers role count as "serving", if he had any "honoury" roles as say, a colonel of a regiment, etc) he probably did "earn" the medals in some peoples eyes and not in other peoples eyes.

    A thread like this is what makes ARRSE so interesting, having never seen his rack, this was news to me.
  7. Quite right.

    Some of them came in the post via the diligent efforts of a war office clerk but others didn't and had to be specifically applied for.

    RP I haven't bothered to look it up again but from memory WC put up a 'Royal effulgent order of the Elephant' or some such from Thailand. God help us.

    Early days in WW1 Churchill took flying lessons until his mum apparently put the kibosh on it before he solo'd. Yet WC has no problem wearing a RAF uniform complete with pilot wings in WW2.

    That said, after WW1 he could have had his pick of any aristocratic sinecure and taken the money and regular honours that came with each New Year. I'm a great fan of Phil the Greek, who has a fair bit of honest WW2 service but the chestful he displays today could have easily gone Winnies way as well. Our man in the 1960's Sir Robert Menzies was made 'Warden of the Cinque Ports', it came with a set of robes and a few bob and let our Bob die a happy man, knowing he had made something of himself.

    Bluey - Point taken. Although I think the Churchill Fellowship is still a great legacy for a great man.


  9. Minor Point: I believe Churchill learnt to fly at his own expense whilst 1st Lord of The Admiralty well before WW1.

    He was 1st Lord of The Admiralty from the outbreak of WW2, until he became PM and Minister of Defence. I guess that justifies the medals? If not, he turned down the offer of a Dukedom, as Duke of London.

    There's many things that Churchill can be criticised for but I think he was too big a man to walt it for some bling.
  10. Chippymick, as you mention, the royals are the worst for wearing unearned medals - the last time I looked, Prince Edward had 3 medals, despite his less than notable service in the Royal Marines, and Prince Charles has got a chestful of them.
  11. Well? They've got his mum's face on them and she can give them to whom she wants. What do you give to the kid who has everything?

    I think Edwards one's are those that are solely within the perogative of The Monarch - Royal Household thingies.... the zig-zaggy ribbon one..... a bit like the national defence medal.
  12. RP578

    RP578 LE Book Reviewer


    The Order of the Elephant was from the Danes and it's one of those Order/Awards that Heads of State, Royalty etc. throughout the world give each other in their one big happy celebrity circle-jerk.

    I always wondered about the brazen wearing of RAF pilot wings. It does seem to have been a war where people often wore whatever they liked (see Monty) however they wanted.

    Most WW2 medals seem to have been applied for by a serviceman's unit (obviously not applicable to Churchill), but many applied after demob at the post office. Servicemen were given a Medal Index Card (MIC) similar to the WWI version, but this time it did not have the soldier's service details, rather it was an application form for him to claim what he thought he was entitled to. See examples below:

    WW2MedalCard2.jpg WW2MedalCard1.jpg
  13. Mick, I never said there was a blanket one day rule for all the stars, as for WCs qualification, that's why i put in the bit about if he was a Colonel of a Regiment/Corp, etc.

    The Africa Star, for example, according to the MODs own criteria

    Star awarded for 1 or more days’ service in North Africa, Malta or Egypt between the above dates.
    (dates being 10 June 1940 and 12 May 1943)
    Ministry of Defence | Defence For... | Veterans | Medals | Africa Star
  14. RP578

    RP578 LE Book Reviewer


    The Fist Lord of the Admiralty had been a civilian post since the start of the 19th Century and was political post to preside over the Admiralty Board. In no way did it confer a military rank or uniform. Churchill turned down the offer of a Dukedom after consulting his son who wanted to pursue a career in politics. Being the first son of a peer would (back then) have led to difficulties as he would have had to have resigned his seat in the Commons upon inheriting his title. This was later challenged and overturned by Tony Benn MP who successfully renounced his title so as to be able to stay in the Commons.

    The thing about Churchill is that he more than earned plenty of campaign medals, so the WW2 set are a bit of a mystery.
  15. Not really - the zig-zag one is the New Zealand Queen's Service Order - given for charity work - but I don't think Edward has it? Charles definitely does.


    Edit to add: Edward, consulting his official site, has the Kiwi's "New Zealand Commemorative Medal":

    I suppose, in the days before jets and with as little as 1 day counting, Churchill's many trips to the troops in theatre, if not the front line, would have counted?