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Eligibility to wear WW2 ribbons during 1940

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Gents,

I have a photo taken in England in 1940 (no specific date shown) of a relative wearing a ribbon bar & would like opinions as to whether he would be eligible at that time to wear ribbons.

He enlisted in Australia in the 2/2nd Railway Construction Coy. Royal Australian Engineers on 29/4/1940 as a Private/Sapper. He arrived in England on 18/7/1940 and left England for Egypt on 5/1/1941.

The photo is indistinct so I can't make out the ribbon designs, however the bar does cover the full width of his battle jacket top left pocket.

Interestingly the photo also includes a chap who enlisted at the same time as my relative and he isn't wearing any ribbons.

Is it likely that this private soldier would be eligible to wear WW2 ribbons at this time?

Thanks.

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In 1940 there were, with the exception of gallantry awards and decorations, no ribbons relating to the second world war (this did not happen until after the event). Is it possible that your relative had seen previous military service such as in the Great War (Many WWI veterans re-enlisted).

An image of the photo, even if indistinct could be of assistance.

Paul

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The other possibility would be that he had seen service in the British Army between the wars, in India for example, or in someone else's army, as there were any number of small wars going on all over the world in the 1920s and '30s, especially in various colonies of the European powers. Even a bad photo would be a help.

Peter

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Or if he had previous volunteer service he might have an Efficiency Medal. Coronation and Jubilee Medals are another possibility, although they would be more likely for a senior NCO, unless awarded for civilian service.

Michael

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In 1940 there were, with the exception of gallantry awards and decorations, no ribbons relating to the second world war (this did not happen until after the event). Is it possible that your relative had seen previous military service such as in the Great War (Many WWI veterans re-enlisted).

An image of the photo, even if indistinct could be of assistance.

Paul

Not quite. The 1939-43 Star and Africa Star ribbons were awarded during the War, and Canadians had the CVSM ribbon.

Michael

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Michael you are absolutely correct in what you say but these ribbons would not have been available in 1940 which is when the photo was apparently taken, they were permitted for wear much later in the war.

All the best,

Paul

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Paul

Can't gainsay your information about 'permission to wear'. However, there are a large number of examples, in photos and among collections, of 'walking out' uniforms with a myriad of non-regulation additions, including unofficial unit patches, divisional and brigade signs and so on. I find it unlikely, therefore, that if the ribbons were available, there weren't at least a few blokes who put them up anyway, and got away with it even if only long enough to have a photo taken! "I earned the b***er and I'm b****y well wearing it, and s** Standing Orders and the RSM too!" That last bit sotto voce, of course. ;)

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As I understand it the Africa Star RIBBON was awarded at about that time, probably about 1942 or so. I have seen several cases of veterans having a ribbon bar of only an Africa Star in their box of bits from the era. Often the single ribbon bar had a numeral '8' for NZ Eighth Army or a '1' for Brit First Army.

The general rule is that the medals and awards of WW2 were not issued until about 1949-50 ish and were done upon application from the recipient

Edited by Mike Smith

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