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  1. I am sad to announce that Mervyn Mitton who has been Senior Moderator and friend to many of us on GMIC for several years passed away on Wednesday. He had been ill for many years, but he never let this get in the way of his passion for Militaria and Police Collectables. His knowledge of British Police history and collectables was immense and his death is a tragic loss to GMIC and the wider collecting world. Mervyn was always very proactive on GMIC and a real driving force behind the scenes amongst the staff. I will miss his old world charm, warmth, generosity and guidance. Yes he could be slighlty cantankerous at times, but that was part of his makeup, an old school English Gentleman a dying breed that are irreplaceable. I will miss him.

  2. Earlier today (5-25-13) I attended the Ft. Lee Military Show for the first time. I had a blast… great show, wonderful location; altogether a very worthy effort by the organizers. I’ll certainly go again next year, and I’ll probably have a table of my own then as well.

    I primarily went to hook up with two good friends, Kevin Born (one of the show’s organizers- thanks Kevin!) and Ralph Pickard (author of “Stasi Decorations and Memorabilia, Volumes 1 and 2”), as it has been a couple of years since I saw them last. A wonderful reunion ensued, along with some minor buying and selling on my part. Great way to spend a beautiful Saturday morning and early afternoon.

    Insofar as content, most of the vendors dealt in artifacts from multiple countries and the country that had the most items on display/for sale was the US. Wars covered began with WW1, although I did see reunion items from the US Civil War. There were a couple of US vendors who also had a smattering of Third Reich items, and a couple who also had Eastern Bloc awards. Kevin and Ralph’s tables were the only tables displaying East German militaria.
    The highlight of the day was Ralph’s sharing two unbelievable groupings he has acquired… and when I say “unbelievable”, well, you can certainly take that to the bank. The first group is that of a Hungarian State Security agent who retired a Colonel in the mid ‘70’s. In this group, Ralph has been able to acquire this gentleman’s awards from his own country, which include awards from both the Rakosi and Kadar periods and the documents that go with them; Bulgarian awards and associated documents; East German MfS (“Stasi”) awards and their documents; Soviet awards and their documents including the highly coveted “Outstanding Member of the MOOP” (in absolutely pristine condition) and KGB 50 Year award badge. Also with this group, is a Hungarian classified award document that, by virtue of it not having a copy distribution number, may be the sole copy of that particular document, and an interesting pass that admitted this gentleman to all secure areas in the event of an emergency- a sort of “get out of jail free” pass. There were other documents, such as his retirement document, as well. Suffice it to say I have never seen a grouping so impressive and so complete… then Ralph showed me the next case.

    This next group was that of an Armenian KGB agent (rose to Lt. Colonel) who was posted, for obviously a good little while, in Afghanistan. 24 awards with documents (for all but, I believe, 2 of the awards), including the Soviet Order of Personal Courage, Soviet Order of the Red Star, Afghan Orders of the Red Star (2), Afghan Order of Glory, Afghan Orders of the Star (1st and 3rd Class) and Afghan Medal for Valour… this guy saw more than his fair share of action. I have never this many Afghan awards in one place, let alone with nearly all the documents TO ONE INDIVIDUAL. I know that Ralph took a lot of time (and money) to get these groups together so completely and they really are beyond amazing. Such collections allow you to go past the individual medal, as impressive and desirable as it may be, and actually get an insight into the life and career of the individual who achieved these awards. Genuine history. And, what probably goes without saying is my appreciation to Ralph for sharing this with me. Strike two from the “bucket list”.

    A great day.

  3. TacHel
    Latest Entry

    Lost my step father of 40+ years this morning following a battle with cancer. He'll be terribly missed...

  4. Chris Boonzaier
    Latest Entry

    Kaiserscross.com topped 16 000 visits for the month of October !

    Only 2 000 were me!

  5. blog-0882473001408934598.jpg

    Garrison: Landau (In der Pfalz)
    Established: 1 October 1901
    Brigade: 3. Königlich Bayerische Feldartillerie-Brigade
    Division: 3. Königlich Bayerische Division


    Kaserne 12. bFAR Landau

    One of twelve active field artillery regiments of the Bavarian Army, 12. bFAR was formed in October 1901 from the III. Abteilung and the 6. Fahrenden Batterie of the Königlich Bayerisches 2. Feldartillerie-Regiment „Horn“ as well as two newly organized Fahrenden Batterien at Würzburg, Bayern. Prior to mobilization in August 1914, 12. bFAR, was garrisoned at Landau in der Pfalz, in southwestern Germany. The Regiment was subordinate to the 3. Königlich Bayerische Feldartillerie-Brigade / 3. Königlich Bayerische Division.






    After mobilization, 12. bFAR remained with the redesignated 3. Bayerische Infanterie-Division throughout the war; thus earning the same campaign credits as the Division. First World War Campaigns 3. Bayerische Infanterie-Division:


    The I. Abteilung 12. bFAR was armed with the 7.7cm Feldkanone (FK 96 n/A); II. Abteilung was armed with the 10.5cm leichte Feldhaubitze 98/09. In February 1916, two guns from each of the 1., 2., and 3. Batterie, were given up to form the 21. Feldartillerie-Regiment. In January 1917, 12. bFAR was enlarged with a III. Abteilung. The Stab, 7., 8., and 9. Batterie of the III. Abteilung initially fell under the command of the III. Armeekorps for training. Training was completed at the Truppenübungsplatz Thimougies in Belgium in February 1917 and the new battalion joined the Regiment in the field.

    At mobilization, the 3. Bayerische Infanterie-Division was part of Kronprinz Rupprecht von Bayern’s 6. Armee. The 6. Armee was central to the bitter fighting in Alsace-Lorraine during the Battle of the Frontiers at the beginning of the war. Official German reports for August 1914 set casualty figures in the 6. Armee at 34,598, with the number of dead at 11,476. (Herwig) One of those dead was Kanonier Alois Plinganser of 5. Batt. 12. bFAR, who was killed on 24 August 1914. After holding off the French offensive in the south, 6. Armee counter-attacked on 20 August with the objective of capturing terrain south of Nancy, known as the Gap of Charmes. After initial success, the 6. Armee’s attack stalled on 24 August just east of Bayon; the French 1st and 2nd Armies counter-attacked, pushing the line back to its 14 August positions. On 24 August 1914, 12. bFAR and Kanonier Plinganser’s 5. Batterie were located at Remenoville, right in the center the brutal back and forth fighting. Early on 24 August, 3. Bayerische Infanterie-Division was given the task to open the route from Mont to Blainville; 12. bFAR was attached to the 5. b. Infantrie Brigade on the right side of the avenue of attack for this task. By early afternoon, 12. bFAR had taken up a position on Hill 251, north of Blainville, but without the 5. Batterie. The 5. Batt 12. bFAR had been fixed in its previous position by enemy artillery fire and was not able to move until the next morning (the morning of 24 August) when it took up a position south of Lamath. Infantry regiments of the 3. Bayerische Infanterie-Division continued a slow advance from Blainville toward Remenoville, supported by its own artillery, but under heavy counter-fire from French artillery. Progress was made kilometer by kilometer and by 6pm on 24 August, elements of the Division were outside Remenoville. However, during this advance, II. Abteilung 12. bFAR came under heavy French artillery fire near Franconville, a few kilometers north of Remenoville. The heaviest casualties were suffered by 5. Batt 12. bFAR. II. Abteilung 12. bFAR finally arrived at Remenoville by 7pm in the evening. Almost immediately, the German troops at Remenoville came under heavy French artillery fire and infantry attacks. By dawn on 25 August, Remenoville was in flames and the front line between German and French forces was just outside the village. Kanonier Plinganser, however, had not lived to see that dawn.


    The Battle of the Charmes Gap, August 1914


    Line of German Attack on 24 August


    12. bFAR positions Remenoville, 24 August


    Line of French Counterattack on 25 August

    With the end of the war in November 1918, the III. Abteilung was dissolved, with the 7. Batterie being completely disbanded, the 8. Batterie moving to I. Abteilung, and 9. Batterie moving to II. Abteilung. The Regiment was demobilized at Ebermannstadt on 18 December 1918 and dissolved in January 1919. Elements of the Regiment became part of Frei- or Volkswehr-Batterie Zacherl, later Heyl; later these elements became 3. Batterie Reichswehr-Artillerie-Regiment 23. In August 1921, this unit became 3. Batterie des 7. (Bayerisches) Artillerie-Regiments garrisoned in Würzburg. The tradition of 12. bFAR was taken up in the Wehrmacht by the II. Abteilung des Artillerieregiments 33 in Landau und later by Artillerieregiment 69 in Mannheim.

    Sources:

    Kraus, Jürgen. Handbuch der Verbände und Truppen des deutschen Heeres 1914-1918. Teil IX: Feldartillerie. Band 1. Vienna: Verlag Militaria, 2007. Web (Wikipedia Deutschland). 24 August 2014

    Herwig, Holger H. The Marne, 1914. New York: Random House. 2009. Print.

    “Les batailles de Lorraine.” n.p. n.d. chtimiste.com/batailles1418/lorraine.htm Web. 24 August 2014

    “Pierre’s Photo Impressions of the Western Front.” n.p. n.d. pierreswesternfront.punt.nl/content/2012/10/als-lorraine-gap-of-charmes Web. 24 August 2014

    The Prussian and spolei. “Kgl. Bayer. 12. Feldartillerie-Regiment info needed.” GMIC.co.uk Web. 24 August 2014

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    Megan
    Latest Entry

    As the UK prepares for HM The Queen's Diamond Jubilee, I've started musing on which milestones various nations commemorate by issuing medals.

    In the UK, it is the events relating to the Sovereign's reign: Coronations and Jubilees (along with a few state visits and Durbars, back when foreign travel, even if you happen to be a King, was a very big deal).

    In Sweden, another constitutional monarchy, they have a different approach. The milestones they mark with a medal are very personal - significant birthdays of their monarch, weddings and wedding anniversaries... and even funerals. There's nothing about their monarch's connection with the nation. The award of such medals is also more personal: family members and people who organise or attend celebrations for whatever milestone is being marked being the only recipients.

    Norway does both: there are birthday AND reign anniversary medals! Medals were issued to mark King Haakon VII's Coronation (1906), Silver Jubilee (1933), Gold Jubilee (1955) and his 70th birthday. Thailand too marks a mixture of State and personal milestones in their Royal Family's lives with the issue of medals - adding such occasions as the investiture of a Crown Prince to the expected coronations, jubilees and birthdays; along with one to mark 'The Longest Reign' in 1988.

    As well as a fine memorial of Royal history, these series of medals give a fascinating insight as to the role of the monarchy in different countries around the world... and probably scope for a whole book not just a blog entry!

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  6. INTRODUCTION

    When you live , or, work in an old town or city, it is easy to overlook historical buildings and
    landmarks.

    This happened when I was first posted to Bethnal Green Police Station. The area was a mixture -
    tall, ugly concrete blocks of flats - typical for the the late 1960's. Rows of old terraced houses
    and and tenement blocks - built-in the 1880's to try and improve the area and cover the shame
    and bad publicity that Jack the Ripper's murders had caused. There were also many small and medium sized factories and workshops.

    Walking - or, driving in a car on duty, it was easy to see just the people and the streets - however,
    once I was on night duty I had the opportunities to really see what made-up this 2000 year old
    area of continuous occupation. There will be other occasions when I will be able to go into detail -
    however, as an example, there was a short cross street between Brick Lane and Commercial Street
    named Fournier Street. Basically, it was a row of joined houses dating back to the 18th Century and
    in the style of the 17th Century. Most of them were derelict.

    During the time of King Charles 2nd - who was restored to the British Throne in 1660 - his French
    counterpart was the 'Sun King' - Louis X1V (14th). Following the urging of Cardinal Richelieu, he
    barred the Hugeonots - or, Protestants - from practising their Religion and they were forced to flee
    overseas. Many to Britain. My Mother's family name was Bozier - a Hugeonot descendent.

    The French silk weaving industry really depended on their skill, and when they left it fell into decline. Their loss was England's gain - the area the silk weavers chose to live was the same Fournier Street in London's East End. Many of the old houses have now been renovated and are
    shown as they used to be - workrooms on the ground floor - living accomodation above. There
    are several museums and it is an area worth a visit.

    General View of Fournier Street

    http://gmic.co.uk/uploads/monthly_09_2013/blogentry-6209-0-88277600-1378482882.gifclick

    Inside of one of the houses - the marks on the beams were for silk weaving machines



    Map of the area - Sever's House is now restored for the public.




    THE MECHANICS OF A 1960'S POLICE STATION

    I can only talk about the running of a Police Station in the 1960's/70's. I would think little had
    changed over the previous 100 years - and, quite frankly, if a system works why keep making
    changes. This seem to be the prevailing attitude today - change for the sake of change - or,
    is it just me getting old ?

    'HB' or Bethnal Green Police Station, was not the Divisional Station - however, because of the large
    population in the district it had a complement of some 200 Police and civilian staff.

    The commander of the Station was a Chief Superintendent (equiv. to a Lt.Col. in the Army). He
    was assisted by a Superintendent.

    The CID (Criminal Investigation Department) numbered about 25/30 - under a Det. Inspector.

    There was a Process Dept., under an Inspector for dealing with Summonses. When you reported
    someone for an offence, the paperwork was reviewed in this Dept. to ensure there was enough
    evidence to go to Court. When you made a direct Arrest the Sergeant dealing with the Charge also, had the responsibility of ensuring that it was a legitimate arrest - with the evidence to prove
    the Act the arrest was made under.

    The Station also had a detachment of Special Constabulary - who at that time were only allowed
    2 hours duty a week. I remember one old Special who was an Estate Agent. When on duty he
    parked his Rolls Royce in a side street.

    We had a fully staffed canteen and after 8p.m. we had facilities in the sitting area to make tea
    and light meals.

    The uniformed Branch numbered some 120 men - split into 3 Divisions or, Reliefs. These were
    identified as 'A' "B' and 'C' Reliefs - each under an Inspector and two sergts.. The system was
    changed some time ago, however, the above had existed for very many years.

    A 9 week cycle was followed. Early Turn was 6 a.m. to 2 p.m.. Late Turn was 2p.m. to 10 p.m.
    and Night Duty - 10 p.m. to 6 a.m.. You did 6 weeks of alternate Early and Late Turn and then
    3 weeks continuous Night Duty.

    You paraded 15 minutes early to be told what was happening, receive special duties and who was wanted. You also Paraded Appointments . This was to show you had your whistle, truncheon and report books.

    You have to remember that Police are a disciplined Force and subject to the Rules laid down by
    Parliament and your Commissioner or, Chief Constable. For example - you don't decide which variation of uniform you will wear - Dress of the Day is shown in Force Orders.
    With holidays, sickness, time off and Court appearances the Relief rarely paraded more than twenty men - and sometimes much lower. Just meant we worked harder.

    Hopefully, this brief outline will give you an idea of the set-up. With so many people with-in the Station you really worked with your own Relief - and the men on the other shifts. I was on 'B' Relief. Being so dependent on your colleagues for help in an emergency, you tended to become close friends - on and off duty. Although, as often happens you tended to have your own group.

    When I finished learning Beats with Jock, my Relief was about to start on 3 weeks of Nights. This
    meant I would be Patrolling my assigned area - or, Beat - on my own. Being the East End, away from main roads the back streets were poorly lit.

    Let me say right now - you don't know the meaning of ' Being on your Own ' until you have
    patrolled for the first time at night - and on a freezing February night....

    Radios had only recently been introduced - and we did not have enough to go around. I'm fairly
    sure that friends I had made, had ensured I had one that first night. They were Swedish Stornos
    and quite powerful. The unit went in your back left pocket and the microphone was fed up to
    your tunic or, greatcoat lapel. You could hear all station calls and if you wanted to speak you
    pressed a button on the top. Messages went to our Reserve Room or, Communications Room. This
    was manned by two PC's and an elderley , retired PC, manned the switchboard.

    We were supposed to return by midnight for refreshments - but, in the dark back streets I got
    hopelessly lost. It got to about 12.30a.m. and I knew I was a long way from the Station and knew
    that people would be wondering where I was. I didn't want to use the radio - I knew I would
    never hear the last of getting lost..........

    The decision was made for me - I was looking in my A-Z wondering where the 'hell' I was, when
    4 drunk yobos found me !

    They were very cautious at first - then got 'cheeky'. I wasn't nervous of them - perhaps a little
    intimidated. There were 4 of them and I only stood 5' 8". I decided that I'd better call in for
    directions - doing so, it slipped out that I was having a little trouble.

    Before I could turn round 5 Police cars and the van - plus some 20 police had arrived to see "what I
    was 'up to' " The whole canteen had turned out. Very embarrasing - but I knew then that I had
    friends.

    The yobs got a quick lesson in having respect for their local Police - and I got lots of different
    lectures in letting people give assistance when it is needed.

    I learned a lot from that incident - and of course - with time and experience you become a more
    confident person. However, like all of the Services - Military and Civilian - you have to learn that you are part of a team.

    Next time - a few more incidents. Some years ago I was asked to write for a local Radio Station,
    some humerous memories. Having recently found them in the move from the shop, I will add one
    to each future post.

    HUMOUR IN UNIFORM

    One of the duties of a London Policeman is Reserve Duty. This is where , once in a while, you
    man the communications room and make sure that there are always a few uniformed men around the Station.

    One quiet Sunday afternoon I had 'pulled' this duty and was thankful as it was a cold, wet afternoon in winter. About 3 p.m. the Duty Sgt. called me into the Front Office, where there were two men who
    were covered in mud. They said that in the morning they had been clearing a site (they were building workers) and had found two large iron objects. Thinking to sell them for scrap they had loaded them onto their open flatbed lorry. When they had gone for a drink someone said they looked like bombs and to bring them to the Police.

    Needless to say I was very grateful !! One look told me that they appeared to be large shells or, even bombs without fins. Beating a retreat wouldn't have helped - if they had gone-up so
    would half the East End of London - I tried Bribery ! Take them to Commercial Street police station I said - they won't take so long to deal with them !! Not likely - they wern't moving an inch
    and expected me to deal with them. Eventually we managed to get them into a corner of the station yard and covered them with sandbags - the London Police have always been good at immediate action to to re-assure the public !

    The 'bloody' workmen left and we had to evacuate the Station and the surrounding area until the
    bomb squad came to take them away.

    YES ! They were live and very unstable - had to be detonated in a nearby park. They were 1st
    World War 8 inch Naval shells. Heaven alone knows what thay were doing in the East End of London ?

    A couple of years ago - in Durban, I was asked to value and identify a deceased estate with militaria. The friend who was with me spotted a mortar bomb and picked it up - ' look', he said
    'it's a Chinese one. Oh my God, it's live with it's detonator and it's sweating '.
    We retreated very quickly and the SAP bomb squad had to detonate it. Please, please - no-one bring me any more shells or, bombs.












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    INTRODUCTION :

    When Nick first mentioned that he was setting up a Blog for members to post personal militaria related material - I
    thought - 'whatever for - this is what GMIC does every day'.

    Well, I've given it serious consideration - have read other contributions, which I enjoyed, and have now decided on a subject. I am wondering if it will be interesting enough for members to want to visit regularly - however, like all things in life - if you don't make an effort - you will never know.

    M

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    Being a paperwork collector one of the reasons I collect the citations is for the signatures on them and as such have to trawl through books, websites and personally compiled files to find examples to provide a comparison. From what I know there are currently 3 dedicated threads/sections to signatures on the web, those being the one on Axis History, one on Dokumentenforum and the third on World War Militaria. Unfortunately the last one is a quiet forum and as such has a very limited number of people adding their examples (but has still been viewed over 10,000 times) while the one on AHF does have a tendency to stagnate and as good as it is it isn't all encompassing.

    With such things in mind what are the views of members here to setting up a Pinned thread in the German Third Reich Document Section for the posting of recognised German signatures to build up and provide a database of such like for current and future collectors and not just restricted to Divisional Commanders or Luftwaffe Aces, or just military for that matter? The signatures could be members of all the various paramilitary & civil organisations, members of the 'Valkyrie' plot, as well as officers down to the Kompanie level - basically an all encompassing thread. We have all types of collectors here: TN, Polizei, Feldgendarmerie, OT, HV etc so the potential for building up a great database covering all such signatures is there.

    Signatures could be from award citations, soldbucher, wehrpasse, ausweis, war time letters etc although I would shy away from post-war letters and photos due to the change of signatures due to age and the difficulty in corroborating them - but that is just a personal opinion and if the majority view it differently then so be it. All I would stipulate are threefold:

    1) the person posting the signature must be the owner of the item and definitely no scans from books.
    2) the signature should be shown in context (i.e. an image of the whole document is shown or at least partially shown to enable a date, location &/or authorising unit to be seen, with the owner's watermark on it somewhere obviously)
    3) items published are NOT up for discussion in the thread - the idea is to build up a database rather then a discussion. If members have doubts about any that are posted then a PM to the Moderator with their views can be passed and regulated that way (or maybe an entry via this blog).

    Basically if you have a signature on some paperwork and know who it belongs to then post it with some amplifying information on the signer, however basic, to build up a comprehensive database.
    So with that in mind, please let me have your views and opinions.

  7. Hello again,

    Well, my enthusiasm totally overrides my ability to get these badges organised. It's such a big job and I get a little lost just trying to sort through them. Although I have been quiet here, I have been noting a lot of posts and have identified a few of my pieces just from others' photos......so thankyou!

    I'm also reading "Tobruk" by Peter Fitzsimons. It's heavy reading....very interesting, but I read in bed at night, generally crime novels that you don't have to pay too much attention to, but THIS book!! I find that I have to reread the previous page every time I pick it up. I just don't want to miss anything and I'm taking notes as I go so I can try and match up some photos to the events. So, while I can knock over a cheap thriller in a few nights, this one is taking a lot of time. I've learned a lot though.

    I will tell you a funny story, a little embarassing, but it will give you an idea of exactly how much of a beginner I am at this military stuff (some might even say I'm a real girl!)... So, I'm going through the badges one night, putting aside ones that have words on them so I can google.. I come across one that is just one word, curved like a badge that goes on a sleeve (I have Harry's Australian one so I'm thinking I know what I'm doing here). Anyway, this one says "LESTINIAN"..... I'm thinking French...it sounds French right? So I Google....nothing. I go to Google translate....nothing. Now I'm getting frustrated. It seems it should be the easiest one of all to find, but no, nothing! So I give up on that one, I'll deal with that later, maybe post it on GMIC....

    Then, I'm browsing a few days later, and I see a post, with a picture, and it hits me..... I look at the badge again, taking a close look at the end, right before the "L"...two little nubs.....

    Yep, that's right, I'm sure you guessed it..... It's "PALESTINIAN"..... the "PA" has just broken off !!!

    So, be warned (again)... I'm new to this !!

    Here are a couple more of Harry's photos, just a few random ones from the album.

    Kind regards to you all

    Tracy



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    Tuesday I thought I was going to buy a Finnish Liberty Cross 3rd Class 1918 , a real scarce award :love:

    Ok , since I didn´t want to raise the price before the last day I stayed cool and planned to give my bid on the way to Finland where I was going on a business trip tuesday-thursday .

    Yep , the cell phone died in the wrong moment and then I was on the plane , no connection and so on........

    :banger: It went for 180 Euros wich was way too low .....

    Lessons learned ? If you want it - Buy it , bid early , bid high and stay at home at your computer :cheeky:

    Nice weekend all

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    Some of you may remember my situation with my Mom. Due to health reasons I moved her from Austin, Texas to West Richland, Washington on May 28th. She has a house now with my daughter living with her as a primary care giver. We had not been able to finalize the sale of her house in Austin so that has been hanging over us for the last 4 months.

    Well-Saturday (10/22) I fly to Austin to close on the house :jumping: on the 26th and THEN, get to have my RAV 4 back! Of course, I then have a week or so to drive back to Washington (but just think of the opportunities to collect more "stuff" along the way as well. :love:

    Just wanted to share. Hope I can get a few more shots to enter before the contest closes.

    Have a GREAT weekend folks
    God Bless (and thanks for your continued prayers for me and my Mom [she is doing much better])

    Ed

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  8. Over on another forum, the cry usually goes up three weeks before the actual date of the medal auction: "The catalogue is online!"

    The first thing one does, if one happens to live in Canada, is check the five-hour time difference between here and the UK, to make sure that most of the British collectors are safely in bed and won't be using up all the website's bandwidth.

    Then the apprehension starts: What will they have up this time? Will there be anything for me on there? What if there's *too much* for me on there this time? Do I have enough money in the Fund to pick up something shiny?

    I open the search function on the catalogue and enter my terms. Then I click and wait. The list of items within my interests shows up and I start scrolling down. That's nice; so is that ... then one particular listing catches my eye.

    I know those medals. I've seen them before. Not just once, but twice, offered for sale from various medal dealers. Every time I've gotten the money together to snag them, they end up being sold, only to reappear a few months later in another shop window. The price, oddly enough, has stayed somewhat constant, allowing for time, inflation, and expenses.

    There's nothing wrong with the set, or so I think. Those medals which are named are named properly. Those which aren't are authentic. The pictures all appear to be of the same medals, just taken in different environments, showing the whims of the individuals to photograph them in their own way. The dealers are reputable, as is the auction house.

    I've got a canny bid in on this set and would like to win it. But even if I don't, I have a feeling I'll be seeing them again shortly...

    But why do they keep coming back?

    I've seen this happen before, with Rex Cosh's set of 10. They went through two or three auction houses and a dealer before I snagged them. I've seen it with some other sets. One dealer sells to another, who sells the set. Then they appear a year or two later on E-bay, only to wind up across the pond in the UK, for sale again from yet another dealer, now all nicely mounted together rather than loose.

    What keeps some sets in the purgatory of cycling around and around?

  9. Often when I start to write what is supposed to be a serious article and I get into the research I find that suddenly I start to doubt my original viewpoint. 

    I was researching into the Battle of Crecy, 26 August 1346 with the intention of writing a piece on the event when I found a good deal of contradictory opinions and sketchy so-called facts.  It is not my intention to hammer on and on about these opinions but as an example I found one source as stating the number of Genoese Crossbowmen mercenaries being at 5,000 and another at 15,000.  I can over look a few hundred or even a couple of thousand but not a difference that equals three times greater or lesser.  Interestingly enough King Edward III set sail from Portsmouth with a fleet of 750 ships and 15,000 men on 11July 1346. Perhaps this is where the confusion came from in one of my sources.  Another source doubts the capability of the city of Genoa to be able to provide even 5, 000 mercenaries, though we’ll accept that number for now. As you can see right away I started to doubt my sources.

     

    My viewpoint has always been that the British longbow was far superior to the crossbow of the same era, as in the case of this battle in 1346.  Spoiler alert!  I still hold to my original hypothesis that the longbow was superior but not as it was based on the information I have always held as accurate. 

     

    A quick overview of the Battle of Crecy as it pertains to the difference in bows is as follows.  The British had the longbow the French the crossbow; to be more accurate the Genoese mercenaries had the crossbow in the employment of the French.  The English held the high ground, a classic tactical move, on a south slopping hillside at Crecy-en-Ponthieu.  This put the French mounted knights at a disadvantage from the start.  Out flanking the English was impossible for the French as the English left flank was anchored at  Wadicourt and the right flank protected by Crecy and the Maye River just beyond the city.  In essence this constricted the French into what could be termed a confined killing zone. Since the English had arrived well before the French they were well rested and fed, in contrast to the French who were weary from the long march and had not had time to take sustenance. King Philip VI of France was advised to encamp for the night so the troops could be fed and well rested prior to the battle.  Unfortunately for the French, King Philip listened to his to his senior nobles and elected to fight on that very day.

     

    Around 16:00 hrs (4:00 PM for you non-military/police types) a heavy rain started.  The British took their bow strings off their bows and stored them under their waterproof hats.  The Genoese could not remove their bowstrings as this required special tools to install and remove the strings.  The wet crossbow strings, which could not have been removed or even adjusted to” take up the slack”, greatly reduced the range of the crossbow while the dry longbow strings, once the British bows were re-equipped maintained their range. As the Genoese advanced the setting sun shone directly in their eyes blinding them. At the same time the British arrows started to rain down on them well before they could reach the range to use their crossbows.  The Genoese commander ordered a tactical withdrawal (another and more honorable term for retreat) which enraged the French knights, which was comprised of their nobility.  History states that the French mounted knights slaughtered the 5,000 (or was it 15,000) Genoese crossbowmen for showing cowardice in the face of the enemy.  As we have all probably read the French knights then fell before the British arrows throwing the French battle strategy into complete disarray and defeat.  This defeat sapped the fighting strength of the French to such a degree that defence of Calais at a later date was impossible, allowing the British to control that area for several hundred years afterward.

     

    My issue was with the long held theory that the Genoese crossbowmen could not remove their bow strings in the rain and therefore the range was lessened.  It seems to me that professional mercenary crossbowmen, if the bow string could not be removed, would have planned for such an event, based on their past experiences and training.  Crossbowmen had large shields, called pavises, where they could take shelter from enemy arrows while reloading.  So why not use these to cover the crossbows while the weather was wet?  There are two stories to this question (stories are not necessarily facts).  One story was that while on route to Crecy in the August heat the crossbows plus the heavy shields were too much to carry so they discarded them.  This seems unlikely for two reasons; first you would not discard your pavis in the face of an enemy who could launch almost twice as many arrows as you.  Second the crossbowmen did not carry their own pavises as they had pages, or squires, to do so.  Another theory was that the pavises were on the baggage trains and they simply had not arrived in time for the battle.  The battle did not actually need to start that day but at the insistence of the French nobles it did and the crossbowmen were pressed unto the attack, therefore this might lend credence to the theory that the pavises were indeed absent.  Had the pavises arrived in time would this had made a great difference in the outcome of the battle?  I tend to doubt that it would.  The French were too confined and with the greater range of the longbow and the higher number of shots per minute the Genoese would have suffered greatly.  The impatience of the mounted armoured knights would undoubtedly lead them to attempt an attack which would have been through the front line (the Genoese).  One of the facts of using mercenaries is that you don’t need to pay a dead mercenary and often they would take causalities from “friendly fire” in order to thin their ranks once the battle had turned in the favour of their employer.  The distain for mercenaries by the nobility and the need to reduce the number of survivors needing to be paid may have meant that charging through their ranks was a positive move on several levels.  If we can accept this scenario then the outcome of the battle would have been much the same.

     

    It is my opinion that the English were simply superior archers with a far longer ranging bow, the long bow.  The arrows being much longer and with more weight tipped with a four sided tip called a bodkin tip had greater kinetic energy at impact.  This not only brought down the Genoese but the flower of the French mounted knights. There has been doubt that a longbow arrow could penetrate plate armour; perhaps this is true as it is supported by contemporary observation.  However, the armor on a horse is relatively light and certainly not even close to full covering.  Bring down a knight’s horse and you have finished off the man.  I say this as a man in a couple of hundred pounds of steel armour hitting the ground at speed (full charge) would cause multiple debilitating and mortal internal injuries.   Add to this a 2,000 pound horse and its armour rolling over him and you have what could best be described as “puree of knight in a can”.

     

    I am suggesting that the wet bow strings and perhaps even the missing pavises (if that is even true) combined with the French knights slaughtering the Genoese as cowards as they were retreating is something that was made up by the Genoese survivors themselves.  A mercenary is only as good as the last victory in which he was engaged.  To admit that the enemy (English in this case) were simply using superior bows and were the better archers would not bode well for potential future employment.  To tell the tale that they were exhausted prior to the battle and upon moving back out of range of the English archers, as a tactical move to regroup, then be cut down by the French (a betrayal) would be acceptable to potential employers who may not be friendly toward the French.  Add to this possibility that the French used the Genoese as a reason for their defeat. Always be quick to take credit for your victories and be quicker to deflect blame in the case defeat. It would be folly to suggest the reason for English victory was due only to their superior bowmen as there were other factors such as the tactically wise choice of terrain by the English and King Philip’s decision to give in to his nobles poor advice. This, of course, is pure speculation on my part.

     

    So how can I sit here in the Home Office and make such profound statements?  On what am I basing my opinions and assumptions?  Well, I’m glad you asked.  Almost two years ago this question, in my mind, of wet bow strings drove me to produce two exact as possible copies of a crossbow based on the weapons of the 1300s.  Research alone took almost a year then testing both bows over the course of several months, when time allowed, saw two years pass by.  I built the two crossbows, one for me and one for my friend Brian, in order to see if they would perform in the same manner in the hands of two people who never fired a crossbow before.  The cost of these two bows, considering some parts were made by professional armourers, was just under $1,000.00 Canadian.  I’ll take you through some of the processes of making the bows and the materials used as well as our findings in the next blog.

     

    Please stay tuned for a little applied archeology and discussion as to what we discovered.

     

    Regards

    Brian

     

     

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  10. Enhancing Your Collection

    It’s been a while since I have written and since we last talked I have moved my study and with it the Home Office into new surroundings; same address just a new and better location. This involved new cabinets and displays so it was a lengthy process. In addition to this I decided to retire from public service and the past six months has been spent attempting to wrap up my projects. Although to get them all completed would take another two years as new road connections through forests are limited by budget and in our country a short construction season. Still all has finally come to pass with a few more touches to the study and the unfinished work projects in the capable hands of my replacement I am free to do what I want to do with rest of my life.

    Reading the posts on the GMIC lately I noticed one by Robin talking about the addition of a new Crimea Medal, I’m still envious, and in addition to this the addition of a cigarette card of this medal featuring the same bar. I believe Mervyn mentioned that some members are adding cap badges and other insignia to their medals and medal groups. This is something I have been doing for some time now and I wanted to talk about this interesting augmentation to medal collections as well as other military collectables.

    Below is one drawer of medals where I have added the cap badges to the medals



    I find myself; or rather catch myself, boring family and friends with my collections and constant droning on about history and this battle and that battle and how the breakdown of diplomacy led to one conflict or another. Most of my medal collection is housed in shallow drawers and if there is one thing I’ve noticed is that the average person’s eyes will start to glaze over after the third, and if I’m lucky, the forth drawer of what is perceived as one medal or group of medals after another with little to no differences. In fact I too start to think that there is a certain monotony about a sizable collection of just about anything after a while. If you are at all like me this “monotony” somehow imparts a warm feeling of comfort and security, as does the knowledge that I am a student, of sorts, of history and how these artefacts are in concert with the events they commemorate.

    For most of us, we collect for ourselves and not for others, nor do we seek to garner praise for our efforts from the few upon whom we may bestow the honour of viewing our treasures. I suppose that is somewhat a joke in the average person’s opinion as many would think even an hour going over someone’s collection, their passion as it were, to be a total waste of time. However, they are simply members of the great unwashed masses so let’s not give them any more consideration here.

    I’ve seen several collections where the owner has framed their collection, breaking the medals up into specific themes or a grouping to one recipient. For the most part I really like this, however in my case; wall space is and always has been at a premium. Framed documents and larger photos have always taken precedence in allotting wall space so medals were placed in shallow drawers out of necessity as much as anything else.

    In this blog I am speaking more about additional items to enhance the experience for someone viewing a collection and even to make it more interesting for the collectors themselves. Some of those additional items could be the cigarette cards mentioned earlier which could be of a soldier in uniform as much as the particular medal. My Bahawalpur collection has a cigarette card featuring a soldier from that country in full uniform, which I think is quite interesting. In addition to this I have added a post card commemorating the 100th anniversary of the 1st Bahawalpur Regiment, 1834-1934, and their battle honours.

    Other additions to collectables, that comes to mind; could be the addition of nipple, or hammer protectors to a black powder rifle or musket, or an authentic muzzle plug for the same type of weapon. A small word of caution here; it might be best not to make the announcement around the water cooler, in the office, that you are awaiting a shipment of vintage nipple protectors. Nasty rumors could be forthcoming. Of course rifle slings either authentic or reproductions dresses up a rifle or musket quite nicely. A discussion on reproductions, “to use or not to use”, is a topic for another time.

    Examples of additional items for a musket are shown below. The nipple protector and muzzle plug are on an 1853 Enfield and the sling is an original on a Pattern 1842 Brunswick Rifle marked as belonging to the Royal Canadian Regiment (RCR).



    Swords too have accessories such as wrist straps and sword knots that can be added. Sadly my Japanese sword collection has no such accessories, yet, but who knows, perhaps in the future. The only one with any such strap is missing the all important knot.

    The British sword shown below, with original leather sword knot, is the Pattern 1895 Infantry Officer’s Sword displaying the cipher of King George V.



    As always I hope this short dissertation will give the reader pause to think about alternatives to simply adding yet another item to the collection and enhance the specimens you already have.

    Regards

    Brian