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PKeating

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Everything posted by PKeating

  1. Harold Gibson was the SIS Commander in Istanbul. He also served in other places but his main stomping ground was Istanbul, where he had been active as early as 1920. The SIS was also known popularly as MI6. Gibson specialised in running deep cover spies operating in the USSR before and after WW2. Once his cover was blown by a disgruntled Russian operative in 1945, Gibson was under Soviet surveillance until his death in 1960. Gibson was also involved in British dealings with Zionists. If this belonged to the MI6 spymaster Harold Gibson, it would be an interesting piece indeed. Indeed, it could be quite a valuable piece if offered to the right buyer. The hallmarks appear to be Egyptian. Egyptian hallmarking of precious metals followed the British format. They had to include the content hallmark, the national hallmark and the date hallmark. This bracelet conforms in that respect.The lefthand hallmark denotes silver content, which was normally 800/1000 in Egypt. The national hallmark in the middle is the Cat motif, used until 1946. The righthand hallmark is the date symbol. Egypt stopped using the British-style Roman alphabet date letters in 1940 and adopted Arabic letters. This hallmark appears to be م,This is the Arabic M. Information on Egyptian silver date letters was hard to find for a long time but the Egyptian government has kindly provided information on one of their websites: http://www.mfti.gov....Weights/A03.htm As you can see, م or M denotes the Christian year 1979. I is strange to find a 1979 date letter on a piece bearing the pre-1946 national hallmark. There are some other possibilities: that this hallmark is a badly-formed ا or A for the 1940/41 season; that it is a badly-formed hallmark for the pre-Arabic system, in which "I" denoted the 1933/34 season. The engraving is by hand and of acceptable quality. Looking at the lay of the letters, particularly the Y in Embassy, it might even have been done by a craftsman more accustomed to working from right to left, Arabic being written from right to left. But why would Gibson or anyone else include the letters G.S. after the name? That's a bit like advertising one's function. As a military spook, Gibson would have been on the General Service roll rather than the roll of a particular regiment or corps. This might explain the abbreviation after his name. The rank, name and unit reminds one of details as impressed on medals of the era or published in, for instance, the London Gazette. Perhaps a chap who had been a military spook since 1920 and probably earlier, and who spoke Russian amongst other languages, would have worn such a bracelet in to render identification easier were his bloated remains found bobbing about in the Bosphorus. However, the local hired assassins sent by the Russians or, during WW2, the SD-Ausland to eliminate him for whatever reason would probably have stolen this bracelet, along with any gold dental work in his mouth, before dumping his corpse. He would have had his fire and waterproof military ID tags anyway. After all, SIS/MI6 men were serving soldiers. Gibson's status as an intelligence officer would have been known in the business, so to speak, but why would he parade about the place wearing something like this in the first place? It's also terribly un-British. British Army officers have never been prone to wearing jewellery, bar wedding and family signet rings. Of course, it could well be the case that someone conceived the notion of producing a piece that might excite collectors of espionage memorabilia. The assumption on the part of anyone examining this bracelet would be that Lieutenant-Colonel Harold Gibson, head of the SIS in Istanbul, decided to have an identity bracelet made up during a wartime visit to Cairo or Alexandria. Well, why not? Perhaps a colleague or a friend had it made up for him. Again, why not? Cat Hallmark? Pre-1946. Arabic date letter? Post-1941. So Gibson wore this bracelet during WW2! Maybe he wore it during the talks leading up to the so-called Gibson-Kaplan Agreement regarding Palestine in 1943. An historic piece to be sure! Don't get me wrong. I know nothing of the provenance of this item. I am merely applying the rule of Occam's Razor. The Devil is in the details and I just cannot get past that 1979 hallmark. Is the piece genuine but with a badly-formed date hallmark? Or did someone with an incomplete set of pre-Nasser hallmark punches use the Arabic M in the hope that Western eyes would see it as an Arabic A for 1940/41 and conclude that Harold Gibson had it made during a trip to Egypt? Or am I completely off-course? Did some other country use a cat hallmark with Arabic assay and date marks? I have looked but have found nothing. PK
  2. It should be noted that diamond-studded KM war badges were semi-official in nature and were by no means given to all Swords recipients. They could be worn in uniform in place of the official war badge, like the Pilot-Observer Badge with Diamonds given to various people by Göring.
  3. Would the cuffs have been dark green, like normal Heer waffenrock? And what colour would the cuff title have been at this stage?
  4. Terrific write-up. How sad that the BWMs are missing. Not that I wish to rain on the parade but I fear that like so many silver medals, they may have been victims of the Nelson Bunker Hunt silver scam of the late 1970s. Sold off for an artificially inflated scrap value. For what it's worth, I met BH in Maine some years ago and was able to tell him what an absolute Hunt he - and his brother - were. Timo is well-placed to keep an eye out but I will also circulate the details to the handful of my fellow Dubs who collect or handle such things. PK
  5. The Parachute Regiment had its own "Regimental Police", drunken Paras tending to see normal Military Police as legitimate targets and said MPs tending to find ways of not attending incidents involving drunken Paras. "Wanted: the battalion's five biggest mutants". Seriously though, when are civvie politicians going to stop messing about with the military just to 'make work' and justify their over-inflated salaries? It is my imagination or was it less pronounced when we still had politicians who at least had done some military service themselves and appreciated the maxim about not fixing things if they ain't broke?
  6. Sad story and ending for Devlin but what a killer group! Now you just need to find an Easter Rising group... P
  7. This seems to be perfectly alright, right down to the incused 122 maker's mark. This J J Stahl crosses are prized by some EK collectors as they are the only officially authorised Iron Crosses, if memory serves me correctly, made outside Germany (of which Austria was a part), bar Japanese variants for naval personnel in the Far East. Germans might have seen Alsace as German but it was an occupied part of France. Here is one of mine.
  8. It's a super cross but the price is rather steep. All one can say is that two people must really have wanted it. The auction result is not representative of the value. It may, in real terms, be €450 to €500 tops. But all you need is a couple of guys with loads of disposable income and you have an artificial result. Put the same kind of cross up for sale here or on one of the other forums for the same price and there will be a resounding silence. Put it up for €250 and there will be a resounding silence. One might say that this sale was a «coup monté» by dealers to try to shore up the rapidly crumbling market. As anyone trying to sell anything half-decent these days will confirm, the market has completely collapsed, thanks to the dealers and shills artificially inflating prices for the past few years, to say nothing of flooding the market with high end fakes. They have finally overcooked it. I could put up a cross as nice as this for €150 and some cheeky chappie would offer me €75 on condition that I accept Paypal and cover the Fedex costs.
  9. Thanks, Gordon! I was asked about these by a fellow Vincent HRD enthusiast in the US whose uncle landed at Omaha Beach and bought a few "pick-ups" back. P
  10. Are these Kriegsmarine eagles or from some other organisation? PK
  11. Thank you both for your replies. And thanks in advance for checking the award time slot, Jim. Most kind of you. At the risk of making you both ill, the answer is €40 each. I got them both along with some other stuff, including some nice numbered Parachutist Badges, an Imperial cap eagle and this Red Star Order for a total of €80.00. Even these Red Star Orders, once so plentiful, are rarely seen outside militaria dealers' premises now. The last time I saw a 3rd Class Order of Glory in a Paris street market, about a year ago, it was in a showcase with a load of shooting awards and other baubles, and the Russian wanted €90 for it, which struck me as quite a stiff price. But the price was actually correct from an EU standpoint although it would obviously be expensive if converted into USD, and it was gone when I passed by an hour later that morning. Number in the 400k range, IIRC. Mind you, I would never describe the Order of Glory, even the 3rd Class insignia, as ever having been "plentiful" in Western European street markets. They were more often seen but rare by comparison with the campaign medals and anniversary bling. I suppose I ought to see about researching them. So many tasks lining up, so little time! Plus, of course, I don't speak Russian, although I have quite a few Russian friends who have helped me with Soviet era documents.
  12. Very chic of him! He did the right thing. I hope the family did the right thing and honoured the VC holder's memory by keeping the medals or allowing them to be exhibited in an appropriate place, the salutary stories of what sometimes happens to things one lends to museums notwithstanding! Yes, come on, does anyone else have VC-related stories, about real ones, copies and fakes? We have seen evidence of "Walt" medal groups from the late 19th century - on BMF at any rate - and we hear of US Walts wearing the MoH, along with stories of German Walts wearing the RK at reunions and, in the case of one well-known officer who served with SS-Fallschirmjäger-Btl 500 for about five minutes, even sending out signed portraits of himself with the RK added, saying that as he got it so late, he never had a chance to be photographed wearing it in uniform. So, anyone got a story about a VC Walt? I mean, you have to have some front to pretend to hold the VC. It was easier in pre-Internet days, of course, but some con artist must have tried it on...
  13. Retrieved in a Paris flea market recently: two Order of Glory 3rd Class insignia. Would I be right in believing the award numbers to date from 1945? 429673 665279
  14. The reverse with the engraving in all the wrong places, indicating a probable lack of intent to defraud anyone. There also seems to be a problem with the 1915 date as the action for which Hogan earned the VC was actually in October 1914m the award being recorded in The London Gazette of December 22 1914. The real VC is in the possession of Oldham Civic Centre, Hogan having been a Lancastrian in the 2nd Bn, The Manchester Regiment. The LG also gives his number as 9016 whereas it is given as 8181 on the reverse of this copy. I am pretty sure that I saw a reference once to '8181' but can't remember where. In the end, it's a copy and highly unlikely ever to have been anywhere near John Hogan. Also attached are images of Hogan wearing his VC and of the VC on display. John Hogan served seven years in the Army before becoming a travelling match salesman, which means trudging through the streets of Oldham selling boxes of matches for a pittance.
  15. The head of the Gurkha Museum ain't sayin', Mervyn! He and his colleagues never even acknowledged my communications, which is often the first step in an intended denial strategy. And Pun VC died recently, which relieves the pressure on them to some extent. It was interesting that one of the partners in the law firm that made such a great reputation for itself helping Pun VC and other Gurkhas on a pro bono basis, having told me about their visit with Pun VC to the museum and how Pun VC had examined 'his' VC and found it wasn't his despite the engraving on the back, clammed up on me completely after I had spoken with the senior partner who, for all his posturing about helping Nepalese veterans, didn't seem to want to court any serious controversy concerned the present whereabouts of the medal. I wonder where it is. Were it in the museum safe or a similar place, then why not just respond to my letters and emails telling me so? I would not have including the following paragraphs in the magazine article: Moving on to the question of hand-engraving, here is the engraved copy to which I referred earlier, as I acquired it in 1984 with a clipping from The Daily Telegraph of April 30 1983 referring to Sgt John Hogan's VC and group on sale at Spink's for £10,000. This cross has been described by several who have seen it as a 1950s or 1960s copy in bronze with hand-engraving of passable quality. The engraving does not attempt to ape the original style, with the recipient's details on the reverse of the suspension bar. It recalls more the layout of engraving found on some Peninsula crosses. I gave the fellow a couple of 1st Class Iron Crosses for it, if I remember rightly. The 'story' - and there is always a story - is that it was bought by the Hogan family at some point and that they had it engraved as a keepsake to recall John Hogan's bravery, the real VC and its accompanying group having been sold. I don't know when Sgt Hogan's VC group first passed onto the market. I suppose Spink's might be able to tell me if the group came from the family in 1983. But I never bothered asking. I collected certain British medals at the time and this was a reasonable-looking VC copy - thought not at all like anything from the Hancock's moulds as far as I can make out - with an amusing story attached to it. I never even attempted to contact the Hogan family to find out. It has lived in the Oddities Box ever since. I suppose it would be nice to find out that John Hogan, like so many other decorated veterans, had money problems and pawned or sold his medals so often that he or maybe a relative got this copy and had it engraved. Then it would be a copy attributed to an actual recipient, which is about as close as 99.9% of the collecting population will get to owning a VC. A bit like having a 1960s Pour-le-Mérite worn at functions by an original holder or a 1957 Ritterkreuz worn by an original holder. However, John Hogan died in 1943 and I doubt that this copy predates that era so the best one could hope for was that his son or daughter had it done later and put it over the mantelpiece.
  16. Maybe I am wrong but something about Stephenson's general demeanour and way of doing business reminded me of that very decent Commissioner Sir Robert Mark. It is a shame to see honest coppers falling on their swords because of besuited scum like the Murdochs, their helpers and the political whores who courted them. Apparently the owner of Champneys is fit to be tied, given that it was actually a mate of Stephenson's who paid for his stay there after his cancer operation. Meanwhile, that blob-faced arse Cameron does a Teflon act that would put Tony Blair to shame. Cameron & Co: undermining decent public servants - police commissioners and armed forces chiefs, as well as NHS workers etc etc etc - in a gilded cage somewhere above us. And we don't even have a credible lunatic fringe to comfort us anymore. It's bad, guys. P
  17. Hancock's themselves produced replicas at one point, back in the late 1970s. If I recall rightly, they were admonished for doing so and stopped. I have an old replica somewhere, said to have been engraved to a recipient by his family, the original no longer being in their possession. It is not trying to be a genuine award piece. The engraving appears solely on the reverse of the cross itself, with none on the suspension bar. I must scan and post it here. On another tack, the late Tul Bahadur Pun VC said that the cross displayed in the regimental museum was not his and that the engraving was not as he recalled it. This is interesting as the museum never responded to my letters and emails about Pun VC and the whereabouts of the genuine cross, the one on display being unlike a Hancock's cross and therefore an obvious copy, if you know what you are looking at. Museums do of course display copies for quite legitimate reasons but it seems odd that someone went to the trouble of faking the engraving on the cross purporting to be be that of Pun VC when the reverse is invisible to visitors. Pun VC's solicitors had persuaded the staff to let the old boy handle it, even if there was no intention of ever returning it to him, despite the controversy over the way in which it came into the museum's possession.
  18. And yet another topic with the potential to develop into an interesting or useful discussion is knocked off course by tiresome trolling. It would have been nice to have been able to discuss copies and reproductions of the Victoria Cross since its inception. Instead we get a toxic rant by a persistent troll whose more prominent contributions to Phaleristics seem limited, as far as I can recall, to his involvement, with his close male friend Brian Hildemann alias Brian S alias Brian von Etzel, in the promotion as original pieces of, for instance, the L/13 Knight's Cross, the "dotted" German Cross in Gold, the alleged "Otto Schickle" Condor Legion Tank Badge and, of course, the "Rounder" Knight's Cross. Other than this, his main function appears to be that of self-appointed attack dog for the website he keeps promoting and its management. I am actually on quite civil terms with a couple of the senior officials there and they wish he would stop. But he won't even listen to them so there seems little chance that he will pay attention to requests here that he modify his behaviour and his attitude. Regarding inter-forum politics, it isn't really a question of 'politics' but more one of honesty-versus-dishonesty. The first two major forums were set up by dealers who installed a couple of internet-literate individuals as webmasters. Neither webmaster knew much if anything at all about militaria in the beginning and the dealers' aim was to use these websites as marketing and sales tools. They were promoted as collectors' forums but as soon as they began to attract members with sufficient knowledge to challenge some of the items proposed by dealers, usually presented as "sponsors" of the websites, or sufficient experience to be able to discuss fakery and forgery, heavy-handed censorship and banishment, along with smear tactics, quickly became the order of the day. When these two forums began to exert an unhealthy hegemony over militaria on the web, before affordable generic forum software had really become available, a third forum sprang up where the dissidents of our internet community could publish information censored elsewhere. This third forum was unashamedly tabloid in nature and while it was far from perfect, it had an effect. And then GMIC appeared, offering those who were disenchanted with the existing forums a haven. GMIC isn't sponsored by dealers, crooked or otherwise, and it shows. And that is why GMIC will never be accepted by the managements and backers of certain other forums and their shills, who pop up on GMIC derailing threads or sending endless PMs to management demanding the exclusion of people they consider a threat to their interests. That's not 'politics'. Some of the moderators and even the co-administrators of the other website claim to have cleaned up the act. Well, they don't put it that way because that would be an admission that it needed cleaning up. They just say that things have changed. Have they? I'll believe that the day these sites issue apologies to all the honest people they smeared and booted and delete the Expelled and Banned tags from their profiles. But they won't do that, anymore than they will act to stop people like Darrell from perpetually reminding us of all of this unpleasant history. Unlike GMIC, you see, they are essentially money-making enterprises and sites like GMIC are seen as unwelcome competition because they 'dilute' the marketshare and pose a risk to business because members here can and do discuss items like Rommel's baton, Sepp Dietrich's "honour sword" and so on. Follow the money... PK PK
  19. The Irish Aero Club was formed in 1909 and didn't have anything to do with the Air Service, formed by the Irish Free State government in June 1922, not long after the acquisition of the aircraft to which you refer. However, the club, based in the Irish Automobile Club's building in Dawson Street, flew from an airfield at Baldonnel, now the location of Casement Aerodrome, the main Irish Air Corps base. The Air Service became the Air Corps in 1924 when the Defence Forces were established. Here are some links for IAC history: http://www.aeroclub.ie/mainsite/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=45&Itemid=93 http://www.britishpathe.com/record.php?id=16901 http://www.britishpathe.com/record.php?id=7177 http://www.flightglobal.com/pdfarchive/view/1910/1910%20-%200716.html I've been trying to match the abbreviation on your pin. It may represent Irish words, in which case it would certainly date from the Republican era when de Valera was trying to get everyone to speak Irish as the nation's first language. The three-bladed airscrew suggests the 1930s at the very least. The classy look of the pin leads me to disbelieve that it could postdate the 1940s, as Ireland subsequently embraced kitsch.
  20. Lovely document! Yes, Chris is right in his recollection but I would just like to emphasise for the benefit of readers who aren't too familiar with the terminology that when I interpreted it as "PJI", I was also thinking very much in terms of my British Airborne past, because PJIs taught parachuting at N° 1 Parachute Training School (There is no N° 2 PTS) but we also met them in the planes as dispatchers on jumps. I think the WW2-era German set-up was fairly similar to this. The schools had parachute jump instructors who were all qualified as dispatchers. The designation "Parachute Battle Observer" is a bit strange but not inaccurate as the Absetzer was usually looking out the door to reassure himself that all of the canopies had deployed, so he was 'observing' them. However, something tells me that this requires some more study and research! PK
  21. http://www.netmarine.net/forces/operatio/cimetiere-mers/index.htm No comment... Except that this reminds one of the desecration of the memorials to the Fallschirmjäger on Crete...
  22. And fpr the most part very fragile and prone to snapping off. I cannot actually remember seeing one of these with all its prongs intact. PK
  23. "Version" is certainly more accurate than "award". According to this criterion, then, LDO-marked medals and badges dating from 1941 to 1945 cannot be considered to be awards as they were copies produced solely for the retail market, just like the 1957 copies. They were not award pieces, which means that a Juncker-made Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross 1939 bearing the L/12 hallmark should be worth much less than an identical but unmarked early cross or a later cross bearing the PKA code '2'. The Federal Government authorised the production and wear of denazified versions of 3rd Reich awards as well as those that needed no redesign as they did not include the swastika or other forbidden symbols in their original prewar or wartime design. So the 1957 versions were officially approved, as were original versions or copies thereof that required no denazification, like the Oakleaves and the Swords. Some EL and ELS-Träger, having had their originals stolen by their captors, had to acquire new ones, just as some of them had bought LDO-approved and coded copies from shops during the War. These new versions bore none of the Nazi-era marks - except for the copies made by Godet for various dealers with dishonest intentions - and so can be described as "1957 versions" and as "officiaally approved", because the authorities had to approve them before veterans serving in the new German armed forces could wear them in uniform. In a sense, as Uwe so rightly says, it really is up to the individual collector to apply his own rules when considering "award pieces" and "wearing copies". A 1960s or 1970s Pour-le-Mérite worn by, for the sake of discussion, Ernst Junger would definitely be worth having, as long as its provenance could be proven. The same applies to a 1957 Knight's Cross and Oakleaves worn by a prominent recipient of the original awards. But they are not original award pieces. Neither, by that logic, are the LDO copies one encounters, but they are at least of the original period. I generally do not look at 3rd Reich-era copies of the 1914 Iron Cross but I have made exceptions, as in the case of a beautiful .800 silver, vaulted screwback EK1 by C F Zimmermann, in its fitted case, bearing the LDO "L/52" hallmark. I will also make exceptions for the 1870 EK2 produced after the institution of the 25th Anniversary Oakleaf clasp because they were likely to have been acquired and worn by recipients. I still won't look at a 1939-pattern Knight's Cross by Steinhauer & Lück if it has die flaws on the beading... PK
  24. Someone told this might be an Austrian piece but I don't see how it could be. The only hallmark on it is the little six-armed star on the pin. It looks German to me but can anyone tell me which firm made it? Thanks in advance, PK
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