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jeffskea

MBE, Officer of the Legion of Honor, U.S. Bronze Star ****Recommended

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Hi - Jeff. I think this is really what good collectors do - try to establish all available information on the recipient.

Well done - keep us informed of progress. Mervyn

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Thanks Mervyn,

I just sent the letter to the Chancellery of the Legion of Honor in Paris so hopefully at least one of the thirty-four applicable MBE-BS recipients will be listed in their records, fingers crossed.

Jeff

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Just an update for anyone who may be interested, I received a letter back from the Grand Chancellery of the Legion of Honor from Paris and unfortunately none of the thirty four names I provided were recipients of any grade of the LdeH. I had narrowed down those names based on a few factors: recipients of the BS who already possessed an MBE when their U.S. award was listed in the LG, and only those names connected to operations in NW Europe that didn't seem to indicate any operational service in theatre.

I will return to my list of British Bronze Star recipients and sift through it again, possibly only cancelling out names that have other post nominal letters or ones with combat citations as I can fairly certainly rule out those. I didn't consider too many Mediterranean-related awards but I suppose technically the recipient could have been Gibraltar based in support of the Torch landings and still fit.

I have to admit I took a few stitches out from the back of the court mounting to see if possibly the tailor left any maker's label or name of the recipient on the buckram but I cannot see anything. Hated to do it but you never know and I don't think it detracts from the set too much, it is still intact.

There are not too many options left but there is still a small chance. A bit time consuming but still not completely hopeless, and while it was two months before the Chancellery replied they were still quite helpful and supportive.

Jeff

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Sometimes it just isn't that easy to find information. I think you have done very well so far - and who knows, one of

the Members may be able to help. Perhaps just a matter of time. Mervyn

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Thank you Mervyn, researching and hearing all the possible theories has been enjoyable and I too hope that in time something will come up. In my opinion the set looks like it was worn proudly by a veteran for many years, there is nice wear and the mounting doesn't seem too modern. I dream of finding the recipient appearing in a local newspaper clipping at a remembrance day service or legion somewhere at some point, a bit of a needle in a hay stack but with one small breakthrough anything is possible.

Jeff

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Good day,

Another update in the continuing search for the possible recipient of this interesting group. I have found the complete listing of French awards to the British Army (WO 373/185) free to download from the National Archives, with recommendations, citations, and decrees of award from 1940-49. I'm not sure how I missed finding this before but it is the most complete record I have found so far, over 1390 pages. It is fascinating to read the process of awarding French decorations to the British and it specifically states that no individual awards were gazetted in the LG during the War.

A few interesting things I've noted so far:

Regarding the Officer degree of the LdeH, only in a few cases so far has it been awarded to anyone below Major General, there are a few Brigadiers and some Col/Lt Col but very few. It was a high level degree and really not awarded very often I've seen having gone through the first 1000 pages so far.

Second, nearly all recipients of the Legion of Honour for operational service overseas were automatically awarded the Croix de Guerre. It is usually stated if the LdeH is to be awarded alone for non-operational type service. This confirms that the above group was for non-operational service and still quite possibly awarded after the War.

Despite the CdeG given automatically with the LdeH in most cases, the award authorities stress often that there should be no double recognition of one service. So you see penciled in beside most recommendations any other British or foreign decorations received and dates of awards. To my delight in SHAEF recommendations, awards of the U.S. Bronze Star or Legion of Merit were pencilled in next to those who had already been awarded one to ensure the LdeH was not being given for the same service. Very interesting to see so far that those who had received a Bronze Star already and were being recommended for a LdeH (O) actually were downgraded to the CdeG. I have still yet to see a LdeH (O) and BS combo but he/she would have most certainly been awarded them for two separate services to each country.

There was a very interesting section to a list of recipients to the various intelligence services, including M.I.6 where it was requested by the Director of Military Intelligence to state whether the recipients' awards were for "UK" or "overseas" service. The following reply came with the list of recipients and indicated where each had served and with what intelligence service.

On a last note, I have also downloaded the complete awards of U.S to British from 1942-47 (WO 373/147 - another 600 pages!) for free from the National Archives. Both these records seem to be heavily focused on the Army, there are a few Navy/Air Force included and have not been able to find a complete Admiralty or Air Ministry listing yet. I have had access to most of these records before but not so complete and not including the French awards so hopefully I will be able to to find something, or at least rule the Army out completely! Regardless it has been a very fascinating insight into the foreign award process during the War.

Jeff

Edited by jeffskea

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the best thing to do now is go to the london gazzete website and with the 34 names you have put them in and see who has all 3 awards! i reckon out of those names you have you will get a single name the reason being is that they have to be announced there to be worn!be warned the london gazzete website is a real pain to use BUT it can be a GREAT source of info!

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Jeff, your research has been exceptional and has yielded some excellent information. I would strongly recommend that you consider

writing an article for one of the Medal magazines - your work will certainly help others seeking the same information. I would also say

that Brian and I would welcome your results - with background on how you found out where to look - as an article on this Forum of

GMIC. Mervyn

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Jeff

What he said! :) I think Mervyn's idea is a splendid one. There are certainly others out there who would both enjoy and benefit from an article with the kind of data you've mined for. Makes me remember why I collected medals for many years! It might also serve to contradict the naysayers who maintain that unnamed groups are 'not researchable'. I collected medals to private soldiers in the British Indian Army and heard the same thing for years which, to my glee, meant that those medals

were dirt cheap. You've come up with some really interesting stuff there!

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Thank you all for the encouragement, I had never thought of it before but will certainly consider an article down the road if it may be of interest or help to others. It definitely has been an interesting process so far, the simplicity and complexity of this particular group has driven me to keep going to find the face behind the medals, bringing them to life is what I love most about collecting.

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Just a side note from this medal group's research but as I was reading through the French award citations I came across a very interesting discussion between the Foreign Office and French authorities with regard to upgrading a Maj Gen Sir Humphrey Gale in the LdeH for services in Normandy which led to a 4-foreign-medal-rule predicament:

The initial recommendation was for a Commandership into the Order of Merit Maritime, oddly enough, however that would have been a breech of the 4 medal rule - that being that a single officer could receive no more than four foreign decorations during the War - and the Maj Gen already possessed two American decorations and two French, one of which was the Moroccan Order of Ouissam Alaouite - quote from the correspondance: "a Moorish Order which is comparitively small beer and which he probably does not value very highly". It was then proposed to upgrade his Officer of the LdeH to Commander as a means to stay within the rules and ensure he was properly recognized as they deemed a promotion meant the same ribbon, no new decoration and not a fifth award.

The issue then arose that it was common practice when upgrading within an Order to count that as two separate awards and so again break the 4 medal rule. The Foreign Office were persistant and were able to find a previous exception and wished to pass to the French this new proposal to be applied to Maj Gen Gale. The "loophole" was discovered that if a recipient technically qualified for a higher grade at the time of receiving a lower grade of the order, a correction could be made, replacing the lower grade with the higher and amending that with the original award date and so avoiding an official "upgrade" within the Order. This "revision" proposal was then sent back to the French and eventually confirmed and revised to authorize the Commander of the LdeH to be awarded to Maj Gen Gale while remaining "within regulations". Why go to such lengths to ensure the Maj Gen received his Commandership? I have to quote the apparent reason below,

"We cannot help thinking that it would be rather unfair to keep General Gale out of the Commandership of the Legion merely because he happened to have had the Ouissam Alaouite inflicted upon him." (yes...inflicted!)

For official correspondance there is quite a bit of personality in the paperwork for the French awards, quite a few interesting stories like this as I go along which would be fun to share but shouldn't get too off topic I suppose. Anyway a fascinating insight from an administrative persperctive of the War and interesting to know these type of coversations were occuring within official channels among other routine correspondance as the War raged on.

Jeff

Edited by jeffskea

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Going back to the search for the recipient of my medal group, in Oct 1944, General Juin of the French Army offered a total of 39 Legions of Honour to the 21st Army Group, including RN and RAF attachments, and 50 Croix de Guerres per division eqaulling 1335 to cover the period from D-Day to Sept 1944. The army interpretated the offer to mean the Legions would be go to officers Maj Gen and above (including Field Marshal Montgomery) and the CdeGs to junior officers and other ranks.

The total numbers of officers and ORs in the 21st Army Group give a glimpse as to how little the LdeH was awarded during the War:

Officers: over 16,000

ORs: over 300,000

Interestingly, of the 39 LdeH's, a very small portion was alotted to staff officers who did not neccessarily serve in France during that period, 4 were to go to planners supporting 21 AG and 1 to a staff officer with SHAEF. I was able to cancel out these Army awards for this period, however I do not have the access to the 7 x RN and 8 x RAF recipients and have a feeling this group may fall under one of these branches after having gone through the entire record of French awards to the British Army with not one match for a MBE-LdeH(O)-BS combo.

Edited by jeffskea

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Hi Jeff, It's a great reading your report about your search ! I apologise in advance for the following off topic but I would like to know if you have found the award of the French WW2 Croix e Guerre (War Cross) to : Brigadier General Alexander Augustus Frederick William Alfred George Cambridge (1874-1957) -Viscount Trematon in the county of Cambridge and Earl of Athlone Can you let me know, please ? Merry Christmas to you and All Lilo

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its mentioned in his wiki profile are looking for his Gazette entry?

Hi paddywhack,

thank you for your answer but what was reported on wikipedia (that also contain numerous mistakes)is the corret award of the French WW1 Croix de Guerre.

My question was made to have confirmed the same award but for WW2

Regards

Lilo

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I'v a award date of 16 April 1918 for the Croix du Guerra furing ww1 but cant find anything for a ww2 award,where did you find mention of a ww2 award?

It would appear by examining a couple of photos (although they are not so clear) that he received it.

Edited by lilo

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Hi Jeff, It's a great reading your report about your search ! I apologise in advance for the following off topic but I would like to know if you have found the award of the French WW2 Croix e Guerre (War Cross) to : Brigadier General Alexander Augustus Frederick William Alfred George Cambridge (1874-1957) -Viscount Trematon in the county of Cambridge and Earl of Athlone Can you let me know, please ? Merry Christmas to you and All Lilo

Hi Lilo, sorry I have been away during the holidays, I have not seen any award of the French CdeG to the Earl of Athlone during the Second World War in WO 373. I am quite certain he did not receive one as he is not wearing one in his National Gallery portrait in 1953. The last three foreign decorations he is wearing that I can see are the Officer of the Legion of Honour, WWI French CdeG, and what appears to be the WWI Belgian CdeG (although wikipedia states he received the Belgian Military Cross)

While Govenor General of Canada during the Second World War it appears he also received the Grand Cordon of the Belgian Order of Leopold, however I'm not aware of any other decorations he received during that time. If he did receive any more I'm confident they would all be high level orders from allied nations due to his status as GG. Hope this is of some help.

Jeff

Edited by jeffskea

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