Wearing Of Another's Medals

Discussion in 'Military History and Militaria' started by wotan, Oct 26, 2004.

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  1. Here in Canada, the Government has introduced a bill that would amend the Criminal Code and allow relatives of deceased or severely incapacitated veterans to wear the veteran's medals. The medals would be displayed on the right side of their jacket/blazer to signify that they are worn on behalf of another person.

    The Royal Canadian Legion is strongly against this and I tend to agree. While medals are not the be all and end all of military service, each medal is earned by the soldier it was awarded to. Once they pass, I have no problems with the family displaying their relatives medals in a respectful and dignified way. But the right to wear them belongs to the veteran concerned and passes with that veteran.

    Do the UK or US allow folks to wear a deceased relatives medals? What are other folks thoughts on this topic?
  2. Relatives can wear them on the rigght side of the chest in UK, if they wish.

    Why not let them wear the medals as they are then still showing respect to the person that earnt them!
  3. Last I heard, we had a similar 'right' to wear 'rellies' gongs on the right. Don't know anybody who does though. There's always that episode of 'Only Fools and Horses' where Del boys wearing Alberts medals, though he did wear them on the left.
  4. As far as I know you can only wear the medals of your spouse or of a relative one generation past. ie You can wear your Dad's medals but not your Granddads.
  5. Here in New Zealand it is becoming more and more common for relatives to wear medals on the right during ANZAC day commemorations. (25 April) The RSA (equivalent of the RBL) seem to positively encourage it.

    As for serving personnel wearing predecessors medals on the right hand side in uniform: I can only give the example of a REME VM I knew in the early 80’s who could wear his Grandfather’s VC (and bar) from WWI.
  6. In Australia I believe the RSL (RBL) encourage it as they were concerned a few years ago in rapidly declining numbers of ex-servicemen. They see it as a way of engaging the following generations to help keep the memory alive.

    I think there is a practical problem in introducing a law. Who is going to step up to a child who is wearing their dead parent or grandparents medals and charge them with an offence. Christ they're just medals.
  7. That is quite correct and I see no reason why the direct descendants cannot wear their medals on the right as already stated above.

    Now Wannabes, wearing them, thats a different story, throw the book at them :x
  8. Thanks to one and all for replying, your insights are very much appreciated. Although the current Canadian law forbids anyone to wear medals that hasn't earned them, no one has ever - not ever - been charged under the law. There would certainly be no real intent to charge anyone, nor does the RCL advocate charging relatives with any offence. However, the RCL is concerned that it is an improper practice and would diminish the accomplishments of those who went before us.

    However, each of you has brought up very valid points and the "average" answer seems to be that relatives should be allowed to wear the medals of their deceased family members. Perhaps this is a matter that both I and the RCL need to revisit and reflect upon. Perhaps by trying to ensure that the achievements of our veterans are not diluted we are taking a stance that tends to separate younger generations from their history, thereby casting that history and the RCL itself into irrelevancy from today's perspective.

    Again, thanks and should anyone else wish to comment, I would very much appreciate it. Cheers to all.
  9. one of our Chief Petty Officers died last St Patricks day and his widow wears his medals at all the rememberance & Trafalgar parades we do (on her right side), also i knew a kid in 8 sig regt who got permission to wear his grandfathers medal for a RSM parade.........he forgot to mention it was the "iron cross".
    Never seen an RSM Speechless before.

    I think its a good tradition and should be encouraged, as i do all the parades for Chesterfield and each year i am saddened by the loss of a few more veterans here, few more there, and ther survivors are becoming fewer, i believe thier familys should take an interest in thier valour.

    What saddens me the most is this new attitude i am seeing from the current youth generation who see it as "ok" to gesticulate and pull faces at the massed veterans at the beat the retreat we had recently, and no doubt the scroats will be there again for the upcoming rememberance parades.

  10. :D Brilliant!
    Good point, though. I was told many years ago that I could wear my dad's medals (right hand side); but can you wear foreign ones too if you're still serving? Does anyone have access to the rules on this?
  11. Not a military answer, but I think this from the Cabinet Office basically covers it:

    In the case of the Kuwaiti and Saudi medals issued to British personnel after Op Granby, the Sovereign granted permission for them to be accepted as keepsakes but not to be worn.

    Hope this helps.