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jeffskea

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

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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

Hello Jeff,

No problem at all and thanks so much for your very interesting answer !!!

Please let me do some considerations......

1) Concerning the WW2 French CdG, I completely agree with you and now I'm certain that the ribbon with the palm I have seen in the WW2 photo I posted some entry above (#47), is indeed that of the WW1 French CdG;

2) You say - Quote : "in his National Gallery portrait in 1953 he is wearing what appears to be the WWI Belgian CdeG (although wikipedia states he received the Belgian Military Cross)"

Unquote :

First of all, we all must consider that the two awards are identical in shape (see the photo I posted at the bottom of this writing). However and in my humble opinion, I'm quite sure that He received the Belgian Military Cross and not the WWI Belgian CdeG so the London Gazette entry is correct. This for the reasons below listed (I'll report a summary of what a couple of very experienced collectors and researchers told me on this matter) :

- the awards listed in the London Gazette and the terms used are printed therein basing on the information provided to the War Office by the Belgian authorities and none of those involved in the British side usually had any information as to what award had actually been given by the Belgians. Although the most likely award would normally have been the Croix de Guerre, this seems odd for a Prince of Royal Blood and so I very much doubt it would have been a "Croix de Guerre" which the London Gazette has no problem in naming as such on other occasions. For this, I think, it is safe to conclude that the "Croix Militaire" in the London Gazette is the correct decoration Earl of Athlone received.

- I also have analyzed the 1953 portrait of Earl of Athlone held in the National Gallery (to which you refer) and I noted something on the ribbon of the last Cross (Belgian Military Cross) : it seems to me that this ribbon bears a Rosette on it and this is impossible if we were in the presence of the Belgian WW1 CdG but -on the contrary- it is perfectly plausible if it is the Belgian Military Cross. In fact, the Belgian Military Cross was awarded in two classes :

- 1st class, is identified with a ROSETTE on the ribbon;

- 2nd class, without the ROSETTE.

According to the rank of Earl of Athlone, it is very reasonable to think that he received a 1st class of this award.

- Last, I believe that for the low resolution of the photo in question, the black enamel of the arms of the Cross is not visible.

3) To be correct, Earl of Athlone didnt received the Grand Cordon of the Belgian order of Leopold in WW2 but in WW1 (see : pag. 9642 THE LONDON GAZETTE, 1 OCTOBER, 1915)

Regards

Lilo

Edited by lilo

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Hi Lilo I stand corrected thanks for clearing those details up, I should have referenced the London Gazette to see he was awarded both the Military Cross and Leopold during WWI. I agree that the picture doesn't clearly show the black enamel very well but indeed it was not a CdeG. Glad you were able to find more information on the Earl's interesting combination of awards.

Jeff

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Hi Lilo I stand corrected thanks for clearing those details up, I should have referenced the London Gazette to see he was awarded both the Military Cross and Leopold during WWI. I agree that the picture doesn't clearly show the black enamel very well but indeed it was not a CdeG. Glad you were able to find more information on the Earl's interesting combination of awards.

Jeff

Hi Jeff,

Thanks to you !

Cheers

Lilo

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This has been an interesting post - with some very good research. I am left with one question - what would be the equivalent British

award for the US Bronze Star. Since it is across the board for US ranks I am thinking a DCM or, MM ? Mervyn

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Hello Mervyn,

In my opinion I would rank the Bronze Star (with "V" for valour) with the Mention in Dispatches. A Bronze Star for meritorious service would be roughly equivalent to a King's/Queen's Commendation for Brave Conduct or Valuable Services (if awarded in a time of War) I would say.

During the Second World War, every single US Army Soldier that earned the Combat Infantryman Badge or Combat Medical Badge was entitled to the Bronze Star (without "V" interestingly enough, although many would receive additional awards of the BS signified by an oakleaf cluster and often with a "V")

I would say even today it is a fairly common US award to Commonwealth personnel for service in Afghanistan or Iraq, and still quite prestigious for a foreigner to receive, especially when awarded with a "V" which you don't see too often to non-US personnel. I believe as well that while the BS for meritorious service is awarded quite often to U.S. personnel today, the Bronze Star with "V" is highly respected and still quite prestigious to receive.

The U.S. Silver Star would rank with the Military Cross/Military Medal, and the Distinguished Service Cross would be equivalent to the Distinguished Service Order/Distinguished Conduct Medal in my opinion. To the best of my knowledge the Silver Star and DSC have not been awarded to a Commonwealth soldier since Vietnam (to Australians/NZ) and Korea (British and other nations).

Jeff

Edited by jeffskea

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Jeff - thankyou for that explanation , clears up some questions.

The US Distinguished Service Cross - I was under the impression that it had to be awarded only to US servicemen ?

However, I had a few years back the only DSC ever awarded to a South African. He was an officer with the Kimberley Regt.

and was in Italy. His platoon came up against - in Northern Italy - the retreating German SS troops. He went forward - on

his own and took out (if I remember rightly) six MG posts. This left the way open to proceed and he took his platoon

into the next village. There was anothe MG post - which he took out and his platoon of about 25 men, captured over 80 SS

prisoners.

Since he was under US control he was awarded - initially, the Silver Star. The British gave him a MID. There is no doubt

in my mind having read the citation, that this would have been a VC action if under British jurisdiction.

The award was made to him by the US Ambassador in Pretoria and the Silver Star had been upgraded to the DSC. I

suppose someone read the paperwork. Sorry if I've gone off topic - just part of GMIC ! Mervyn

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Hi Mervyn, the U.S. DSC was awarded to Commonwealth soldiers a few times during the Second World War, very low numbers I believe it is around 20 or so, I will double check WO 373, I know there were a handful to Canadians, 8 I believe or so. Capt (N) Frederick Thorton Peters, VC, DSO, DSC & Bar, was a Canadian recipient of the US DSC for the Torch Landings, his VC postumous. Other recipients were junior ranking combat arms for operations in Italy and NW Europe. Extremely rare to see in a medal group I would say but still awarded to non-US personnel up to Vietnam - Col Carne, VC, DSO, Glosters - Korea, and Kieth Payne, VC - Vietnam are a few examples. Jeff

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Good day, just came across an interesting angle to look into regarding the Bronze Star to help determine potential branch of service issued from.

USN/USMC Bronze Stars issued during the Second World War had thicker planchets and solid loop suspension rings whereas US Army were thinner and had a split loop ring generally. The finishes on each are visibly different as well and the superimposed star and rays on the obverse appear more defined in my opinion on the thinner army style.

Sadly I am away from my collection at the moment but based off the small pictures at the beginning of the thread and from my memory, mine appears to be the thinner version. Once I can look at it closely again I will check the suspension loop to confirm.

While I understand that it was probably possible for one branch of a foreign military, such as army, to award a decoration to a different branch of service, such as the Royal Navy, I would think in most cases it was army to army, navy-navy, air force-air force, etc.

From my research of the WO 373 US & French awards to the British Army, I feel fairly certain that my recipient was not one of the 900+ British Army BS recipients, though it is still quite possible he may have slipped through with so many recipients to search.

If the BS is indeed an Army variation, and I can confirm 100% my recipient was not listed among the 989 British Army recipients, I can still look towards it being a USAAF award to one of the 175 British air force recipients potentially. If it happens to be the thicker naval version then I will have to go back to the London Gazette and check through the 27 British naval recipients.

Is anyone aware if the Admiralty and Air Ministry have something similiar to the War Office 373 foreign awards to British? I have yet to come across anything at the National Archives.

Anyhow another approach to investigate, one more step in this long process of deduction :)

ps. here is a link to the interesting article on Bronze Star variations if anyone is interested:

http://www.usmilitariaforum.com/forums/index.php?/topic/74317-bronze-star-with-thicker-planchet/

Jeff

Edited by jeffskea

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I am back with my collection and wanted to take a closer look at this group to confirm a few things:

Firstly as I mentioned previously about the Bronze Star varieties, I can confirm mine is an Army (or USAAF) version as it is thinner and has the split loop suspension.

Secondly, I was reading about the differences between MBE's and OBE's and apparently they are exactly the same except for the gilding. As an OBE would make more sense with this particular group I took a closer look at the MBE and may be convinced it is actually an Officer. If you look very carefully there is a hint of gold colour around the inset surfaces, how easy would it be for the gilding to wear off that much?

Finally I notice as well the medals do seem to have had quite a bit of wear and the Legion of Honour's enameling suffered the most, the ribbons also are fairly faded so I suppose it could be possible. Any opinions on the picture would be very appreciated.

Jeff

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Hi Jeff. I would agree with you that this is an OBE. The MBE was silver frosted - which soon became smooth. The gilding on the OBE

wears off just by touching - and if you polish it's gone. However, there are always tinges left - I would say that yours is typical after a few year

of wear. Mervyn

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Thanks for your input Mervyn, that is interesting how easily the gilding could wear off. I will go back to the lists and see what I can find. Already I've narrowed down 7 possible RAF OBE-BS combos, I feel strongly it is an Air Force recipient but will re-check the Army recipients.

Jeff

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Unfortunately haven't had a chance to do much esearch as we are in the process of moving but look forward to settling in soon and start digging again :)

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I couldn't believe my eyes but I have finally found a possible match and so far seems quite plausible!

Wing Commander Archibald Acheson, 6th Earl of Gosford, OBE, also known as Viscount Acheson until being raised to the peerage in 1954 and entering the House of Lords. He was a recipient of both the Bronze Star Medal and the Officer degree of the Legion of Honour (This is the first time I've ever found any mention of anyone receiving this combo of foreign decorations, even for those who had operational service overseas).

Born in 1911, he served in the RAF from 1932, was an assistant air attache in Paris 1938-40, then CO of 613 Sqn and Wing Co of 32 Wing. Presumably he left France before the qualifying period for the 1939-45 Star beginning in May of 1940. His UK War Service as a commander would also presumably entitle him only to the Defence and War Medals.

I must dig deeper but fortunately as this man was a politician and British Peer, there should be considerable information on him and possible portraits! I am stunned to find him. Still of course not 100% but this is the only recipient out of hundreds I have researched to have these three decorations and service which appears to be UK only during the War!!

Edited by jeffskea

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I have spoke too soon, I found a picture of him in the National Portrait Gallery from 1946 in his uniform with the ribbons of the 1939-45 Star and France & Germany Star...

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Good day all,

I have little to report in my quest however I am waiting on the complete service file and medal index card of one promising candidate in the RAF so it is still moving forward :) though it may take up to 20 weeks for the records office to reply!

One interesting piece of information I recently discovered from a researcher on another forum regarding naming of U.S. medals which seems to clarify things considerably - only those decorations sent in the mail to recipients, or to those KIA or wounded would have been officially named. I'm sure there were exceptions no doubt and I will look into it further but I would say many U.S. decorations weren't gazetted to the Allies until as late as 1947 for WW2 - so those you find named to British most likely had left the service by that time and had their decorations mailed to them. Those still actively serving presumably had theirs issued or presented to them in the same manner as U.S. personnel - unnamed - again I could be off on that as I'm sure some still serving had named decorations. Regardless they should have all come with certificates. Anyhow I had always wondered about the naming issue and that is the most credible explanation I've heard so far.

Jeff

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Hello all,

A few more updates on this group with some exciting potential, I have finally discovered the Air Ministry files from the National Archives detailing French awards to RAF personnel covering the years 1944 all the way up to 1956. I'm in the process of obtaining copies through a researcher so I can begin sifting through these. After all my research I believe these will conclusively lead to determining the recipient, I've been trying to find the Air files from the beginning. I have also found U.S. awards to RAF so there is the potential that if I find a match, I will be able to access the citations for both foreign awards and the OBE! This is a great find which I hope will produce promising results!

Merry Christmas to all during this holiday season.

Jeff

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I still love this topic and the drive of Jeff.

Hope the search will be rewarded..

Herman

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Thank you Mervyn and Herman, I'm expecting the first files in the next few days :)

I had also requested and received the death certificate and RAF service record of the Viscount Acheson, OBE to make certain he qualified for the campaign star ribbons seen in his portrait. He being the closest and most plausible match so far I wanted to ensure through official records that I could rule him out.

The Group Captain had an interesting career that was spent for the majority in Army Co-Op Sqns. He was the Assistant Air Attache in Paris from 1938 right up til June 1940 and was made a Chevalier of the Legion of Honour (indeed he was later elevated to the Officer degree in 1947 his record states). His OBE and Bronze Star Medal were both gazetted post War.

I checked the detailed regulations for award of the 1939-45 Star which states that 'entry into operational service' between 5 May and 19 June 1940 in France qualified under the special one day rule. It would appear this is how he earned that Star as his only other overseas service was just over four months in France from late '44 to early '45 with the RAF Unit Paris and 2nd TAF HQ qualifying him for his F&G Star. Sadly his record did not come with his campaign entitlement during the War to confirm 100%. Such a close match, even the excessive wear and chipping on the LdeH compared to the other medals would have fit with him receiving it in 1939 and its perhaps rough trip back to England during those tumultuous times of the evacuation. The style of mounting for five medals, from what I have seen so far of contemporary sets, seems to strongly indicate a regular post war RAF officer. Fingers crossed for those Air files to reveal all.

Jeff

Edited by jeffskea

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Your perseverance is an example for us all. Congratulations. Almost don't want to see the story end.

Hugh

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i recently got a book called "united satates decorations awarded to the armed forces of the british empire in world war 2 part 2 awards to navy and air force" and it lists all 175 bronze stars winners!pm me if you need me to check any names in it!

Edited by paddywhack

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Thanks very much Paddywack I appreciate the offer however I do already have both parts 1 and 2 to all three services and they have been an invaluable resource to me. I've previously gone thru the 980+ Army recipients and crossed reference them with WO373 French Awards to British without a match though it was a lot of names to go through so I still may have missed it. I was able to rule out the very small number of naval recipients by confirming other decorations or operational service. In anticipation of receiving the AIR 2 files listing French awards to RAF, I've compiled an alphabetical list of 120 out of the 175 potential recipients to cross reference. There were only a handful of OBE recipients however I've broadened the list to include those without any decorations listed in case they later received the OBE, which I have already found in one case. Anyhow I'm expecting the scans in the next day or so and hope there will be a match! Thanks again :)

Jeff

Edited by jeffskea

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I have finished going through the first file AIR 2/9013 French Awards to British with no success. There were no recommendations higher than Chevalier of the Legion of Honour and the majority of awards were received for operational serivce which consequently meant a Croix de Guerre was received in addition. One very close 'non-operational' match was to a Chief Signals Officer, a Wing Commander with OBE, responsible for the development of radar navigation. The same surname and rank also received a U.S. Bronze Star though the initials were not the same and the BS recipient was a WW1 veteran whose medals were sold at auction a while back.

Nevertheless some very interesting correspondence, a fair amount consisted of veterans' and serving members' letters from the early 1950's to the Air Ministry inquiring as to whether wartime recommendations for their awards were going to be approved or not! Also some interesting reading on recipients involved in Operation Amherst - support of the French Resistance, as well I found the recommendation for Yeo-Thomas' LdeH for work with the SOE.

There are still at least three or four more files I can request to go through and if anyone should have an RAF Croix de Guerre or Chevalier LdeH citation they are looking for, PM me and I will take a look through this file for you.

Jeff

Edited by jeffskea

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