WW1 Medal mystery?

#1
Can anyone help me?.

I have a small black and white photo of my grandfather in his Royal Flying Corps uniform, with a group of other RFC men (7 in total). There are 2 sergeants, 1 corporal and 4 privates, one of which is my grandfather. The photo is made as a postcard.

My question is; my grandfather is the only one wearing a medal ribbon on his left breast. The photo is poor, so nothing can be read from it as to identify what it is. All I can tell is that it is light coloured in the middle with dark edges.

Why is my grandfather and no-one else wearing a medal ribbon and what could it be? He ended the war as a corporal and was an 'air mechanic' by trade.

I have no idea when he joined, but I very much doubt he volunteered and he was probably called up (1916?).

I have tried the medal card records and RAF Records all with no luck.

Can anyone deduce why he has it??

Thanks.
 

seaweed

LE
Book Reviewer
#2
Sounds like a War Medal but why the others do not have theirs I can't think. The Medal Index is great but with five million cards in it I wouldn't be too surprised if the odd one went missing, or failed to get microfilmed or scanned.
 

oldbaldy

LE
Moderator
#3
Medal cards can have transposition errors as well. Took me ages to find my grandfather because of that. So make sure when searching you take that into account.
 
#4
The medal is probablly a 1914/15 star awarded to those who were serving at the time (The Old Contemptables) However if it is he volunteered before the conscription act of 1916. Many of those in the RFC were former Infantry who were invalided out of front line service.
 
#5
Thank you for all your replies to my problem. I have searched the medal card online and cannot find even a close match, which may possibly be him. None show RFC service with his surname.

As I said, I am pretty sure he did not join up as a volunteer, which makes him post 1916. Even if he was a volunteer, why is he the only one with medal ribbon amongst all seven of them, some of which are SNCO's and a JNCO?. Why is there only the one ribbon?

It is a mystery and now that he and my father (WW2) are gone, I kick myself for not taking more of an interest when they were alive.

Looks like it will remain an annoying mystery.
 
#6
This might be a foolish question, but surely your grandfather's WW I medals are still extant and are still with the family? :? If so, certainly it would be simple to figure out which one was being worn on his uniform in the old picture.

His likely medal entitlement for WW I service would have been the 1914 Star (or 1914-15 Star), British War Medal, and Victory Medal. If he entered the service in 1916 or later then he wouldn't have been given the Star but just the BWM and the Victory.
 
#7
PM me the details I will see if I can find him

Full name DOB and if you have his regimental number, also place of enlistment, birth, cheer P
 
#8
llech said:
The medal is probablly a 1914/15 star awarded to those who were serving at the time (The Old Contemptables) However if it is he volunteered before the conscription act of 1916. Many of those in the RFC were former Infantry who were invalided out of front line service.
The first issue was the 1914/15 or ´Mons Star´ but the others who arrived later got a similiar star,the other 2 medals were awarded later, the War Medal and the Victory Medal so most soldiers would have only worn the `Star` ribbon.Not all the Army were sent straight to France the other soldiers could have been recently arrived from Blighty,India or from most corners of the World.More rank doesn´t automatically mean more time in theater!

Llech,thanks for the pic!
 
#9
midnight said:
llech said:
The medal is probablly a 1914/15 star awarded to those who were serving at the time (The Old Contemptables) However if it is he volunteered before the conscription act of 1916. Many of those in the RFC were former Infantry who were invalided out of front line service.
The first issue was the 1914/15 or ´Mons Star´ but the others who arrived later got a similiar star,the other 2 medals were awarded later, the War Medal and the Victory Medal so most soldiers would have only worn the `Star` ribbon.Not all the Army were sent straight to France the other soldiers could have been recently arrived from Blighty,India or from most corners of the World.More rank doesn´t automatically mean more time in theater!

Llech,thanks for the pic!
Sorry you are wrong the so called "mons star" was the 1914 star, most of which went to the pre-war army and had the clasp August to November, they served on the retreat from Mons, these troops were called the "old contemptables" the 1914-15 star was issued to those who entered france in 1915. 1914 star and bar ribbon was issued to troops in 1918.
 

_Chimurenga_

LE
Gallery Guru
#10
Did your grandfather have any prior service ?

The only other medal with a light middle and dark edging would be the Kings South Africa Medal of 1902.
 
#12
dante242 said:
midnight said:
llech said:
The medal is probablly a 1914/15 star awarded to those who were serving at the time (The Old Contemptables) However if it is he volunteered before the conscription act of 1916. Many of those in the RFC were former Infantry who were invalided out of front line service.
The first issue was the 1914/15 or ´Mons Star´ but the others who arrived later got a similiar star,the other 2 medals were awarded later, the War Medal and the Victory Medal so most soldiers would have only worn the `Star` ribbon.Not all the Army were sent straight to France the other soldiers could have been recently arrived from Blighty,India or from most corners of the World.More rank doesn´t automatically mean more time in theater!

Llech,thanks for the pic!
Sorry you are wrong the so called "mons star" was the 1914 star, most of which went to the pre-war army and had the clasp August to November, they served on the retreat from Mons, these troops were called the "old contemptables" the 1914-15 star was issued to those who entered france in 1915. 1914 star and bar ribbon was issued to troops in 1918.
Could be but I´ve got my grandad´s medals and the Star is missing only the uniform ribbon remains,he didn´t get the Mons Star and if he got the medals together the later Star should still be with them?Still,even if the others around him had more rank that still didn´t mean that they´d automatically have more medals or served longer in theater?Would the 1915 ribbon have been issued and worn before the soldiers got their medals in 1918 remembering that most wouldn´t have lived to collect them anyway?

A piccy would help!!
 
#13
If he transferred into the RFC/RAF, wouldn't his medal records have been maintained by the RAF. In other words, are you looking in the wrong place?
 
#14
Thank you all for your replies. A few points in answer to your replies:-

I have searched RAF records thru' Innsworth (as it was then). No trace.
A substantial number of records were destroyed in the blitz in WW2, so his may have been amongst them. It is also likely that, as he was not an officer, record keeping was somewhat sparce at times.

He had no prior military service before WW1, so he either volunteered or was called up.

I have no idea where his medals are. He died some time ago and I don't remember my father having them. So where they went is a mystery.

I do seem to remember that he said that he was in the army before the RFC, but I am talking about a conversation over 30 years ago. Unfortunately, I have left this rather late to try and solve this problem. My fathers WW2 medals were stolen, but I do have copies of his, so it is a question of either 2 or 3 copies of my grandfathers medals, to make a family set from WW1 and WW2.

I have tried scanning the photo, but it is very poor. It would be of no use. Even under a magnifying glass it is hard to make out what the ribbon is, only that he has it on his chest, that the others do not have.

I quite understand now, how the others in the photo may not have the '1914' or '1914/15 Star', even if they are SNCO's, as they may, for example, been regulars transferred into the RFC and not served in theatre at that time.

The bottom line seems to be that it could be be the 1914/15 Star. I cannot see how it could be anything else. However, that is not proof and I would hate to make a set up, with a medal he was not entitled to. Conversely, I would not want to do him a disservice by not including it.
Not a huge problem, but nevertheless an important one for our family history.
 
#15
Sorry you are wrong the so called "mons star" was the 1914 star, most of which went to the pre-war army and had the clasp August to November, they served on the retreat from Mons, these troops were called the "old contemptables" the 1914-15 star was issued to those who entered france in 1915. 1914 star and bar ribbon was issued to troops in 1918.
Not wanting to be a pedant but the 1914 star didn't always have the clasp. The "5th Aug - 22nd Nov 1914" clasp was awarded to those that served under fire.

I concur with previous posters that in all probability it is a 1914/1914-15 Star ribbon.

As to the comment regarding the Kings South Africa Medal - it would always have a Queens South Africa Medal with it so unlikely.

Regards,

Q
 
#16
Not sure if this has been resolved yet, but a few pointers that might help. My experience of tracking down relatives and others has shown that the spelling of surnames on Service records of WW1 is varied to say the least, for example a friend of mine couldnt find his relative called Aitken, we eventualy dug up his medal card for Atkin, his enlistment papers for Aitkin, and his pension records for Atken. We were only able to tie it all together by using other details such as NOK etc.
So dont be put off if at first you cant find anything, think laterally and use every permutation of surname and leave out first name as they are also often changed, in those days people might use their first, or second or even a "Nickname" when they joined up, and change halfway through as well.

Good luck, like others I can do a look up if you want to post/PM details.
 
#17
I am following up several leads at the moment, when I gett the time. I'll let this thread know if I have any success.

Thanks for all your suggestions and comments.
 
#18
Perhaps a root through the records of the Royal Engineers may help? I believe that they were integral to the advent of the RFC. They also provided spotters for the Artillery, and were used as observers in general. You stated in your initial post that he was an air mechanic, that being the case perhaps he was an artificer within the Sappers, and tranferred directly across to the RFC? I'm sure others will have far more knowledge than i...Good luck with your search!
 
#19
A bit late in here, but hopefully adding something.

RFC = Army records. Don't forget that the RAF wasn't formed until 1 Apr 18. ;)
Is it possible that your relative was invalided out before 1 Apr 18? In which case the RAF would, of course, never have heard of him.

Sadly I can't help on the medal side ... GGF was Home Service only, so only had his pre-WW1 medals. GF served in France [Leading Air Mechanic] but he didn't join up until 1916. I have a family photo of GGF and his 2 sons in uniform taken in 1917 ... none of them had a WW1 ribbon at that stage.

Incidentally, on 1 Apr 18 my GGF was transferred from the RFC to the RAF, and my GF similarly transferred from the RNAS.
 

ugly

LE
Moderator
#20
Your Girlfriend must be getting on a bit!
 

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