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


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Hello, I am a new member from Canada and just wanted to show this group of medals I recently aquired. It is a group of five consisting of MBE, Defence Medal, 1939-45 War Medal, Officer of the Legion of Honour, and Bronze Star. There is no name on any of the medals and I am just wondering if anyone has any ideas on how I may be able to find the recipient. I understand there is no proper list of Legion of Honor recipients in the London Gazette however I did manage to accumulate a list of MBE-Bronze Star recipients.

If anyone has any feedback or suggestions that would be great.

Jeff

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Well to be honest I'm not a medal collector, but even to me this is a very odd grouping indeed and this leads me to believe it could be a grouping to someone connected with possibly WWII espionage work. The reason I say this this is because there are no campaign medals in the group, but we have the Bronze Star(U.S.). I could be well off the mark here, but it just doesn't appear to be a "campaign group" and all of these medals would sit equally well with any woman as well as any man, involved in that sort of work.

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Thanks for your input, when I first saw the group I was impressed too by the fact that there were no campaign stars. Having a British, French, and U.S. decoration made me think this person was connected in some way to operations in NW Europe possibly with a headquarters like SHAEF. I managed to trace down some recipients of the MBE-Bronze Star from the London Gazette for the RAFVR and their awards were for work in areas of technical and signals intelligence. I started with the air force as it seemed to me to be the most plausible for someone to remain in the UK or at least in a non-operational area for the duration of the War, but I know it could just as easily be someone in the army or navy; I thought I would start there and see what I could find.

Its proving to be a real challenge especially since the Legion of Honour was not listed in the London Gazette. I did find a good reference of Legion of Honour recipients to the British Army but not one name matched any MBE-BS combo, and I went through a list of well over a hundred names. If I could find similar lists for the RAF/RN it would certainly help narrow it down. In the end I think it will be a lucky break if I do manage to find someone to attribute it to but I think the story behind the medals will be worth the searching. And you're very right it could easily be a woman recipient which would be fascinating, I sure hope the searching pays off, it would be too sad to see these medal's story go untold.

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A very interesting group you have here.

I cannot help thinking that a Legion of honor officer's badge would point to a Brigader General or a full colonel at least. The combination with a US award might point to a high ranking British or Commowealth liaison officer with the French (Free French ?) and the Americans, although one would rather expect a Legion of Merit from them in such a capacity.

It might also be that the Legion of honor was awarded to this officer for services other than military. One has to remeember that the French order is the same for military or/and civilian services. He could have been a high ranking embassy official with services before or after WW2 in Paris.

Hope you find who the gentleman was. Lots of enjoyable research.

Happy hunting ....

(

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It is interesting, I found a War Office list of Legion of Honour recipients and all the Officer degrees were awarded to Brigadiers and Major Generals, which makes it unusal to see the MBE and not a promotion in that order. So you could be right in it being awarded as a civilian after the War. The research is a challenge but very enjoyable, I came across a group called the Monument Men, a mixture of British, French, and American personnel with history and art backgrounds who served during the War recovering art work taken by the Nazis, which is plausible for this recipient and just one of many areas they could have served in so the search continues.

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Gentlemen,

I've seen 2 Belgian medal groups with US Bronze Stars, and each was awarded to an "older" officer who did not see any combat action during the war, but served as a liaison officer between US and Belgian troops.

So the SHAEF connection seems very plausible to me.

Best regards,

Jan

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I think that I tend to agree with Jan. When I first saw this post - I thought some sort of Liason Officer. After all someone had to look after and arrange housing, meetings etc. for all of the visiting delegations. I am a little surprised at the Bronze Star - I always thought this was a gallantry decoration ?

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I am not an expert on the Bronze Star, but I have owned five OBE or MBE groups with US Bronze Stars awarded to British officers and in every case the Bronze Star was named to the recipient. I would be very carefully about any group of this type where the Bronze Star is not officially named. Regards, Gunner 1

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Hi Jeff

This group was on ebay for a while and i had discussed it many months ago with a couple of other collectors. At the time we didn't have any pictures of the reverse of the group can you please post some pictures of the back of the mounting?

Cheers

Chris

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I am not an expert on the Bronze Star, but I have owned five OBE or MBE groups with US Bronze Stars awarded to British officers and in every case the Bronze Star was named to the recipient. I would be very carefully about any group of this type where the Bronze Star is not officially named. Regards, Gunner 1

Hmmm... not 100% sure on that... I think the BS could be awarded by Generals? If that the case, there is no standard way, If One command names them, and the other does not.... I dont think the system was as uniform as with Brit medals.

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Hello all, thanks for the replies,

The Bronze Star was awarded for both heroism/valor (signified with a bronze "V" on the ribbon) and meritorious service while involved in military operations and was given for a variety of services. I was disappointed that it was not named on the reverse, that would have helped considerably, but from what I can gather I would agree there is no standard for naming, if anyone has anymore info on that please send. This BS was no doubt awarded for some kind of merit during the war rather than combat heroism.

Hi Chris from Medicine Hat, yes I bought this set on ebay, do you have a link to your previous posts about this set? I posted a pic of the reverse of the Bronze Star and LdeH, I can send the whole back if you'd like. It has a long pin for wear attached to the black backing.

The MBE - Bronze Star combo doesn't seem that uncommon, I've found quite a few from the London Gazette, but so far having that Officer of the Legion of Honour and just the two basic service medals has made it a challege to match up but hopefully the searching will pay off. Something like SHAEF still seems plausible.

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According to Jeff Floyd in United States Decorations Awarded to the British Army and Commonwealth Armies in World War II 989 Bronze Stars were awarded to officers and men of the British and Commonwealth Armies during World War II. Gunner 1

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My father received a US Bronze Star for 'meritorious service' - he claimed it was for dusting an American general's desk! - whilst serving in an Anglo-American joint intelligence unit in Italy. He was a Major in the Intelligence Corps. They were analysing Ultra decodes concerning troop movements in Italy, and he was there because he was fluent in German.

The medal is not named, although there's a piece of paper stuck down on the case with his name and rank.

(His full wartime group is: 1939-45 Star, Africa Star (no clasp), Italy Star, War Medal 1939-45 and the US Bronze Star.)

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Just an observation on my part as I am no expert but if this was a group awarded to a female recipient would the MBE ribbon be as shown? I was under the impression female holders of this had their own style of ribbon. Also these medals are 'court mounted' on what appears to be a black backing material. Would this indicate branch of service in any way, (if mounted when still in service) I know that Household Division court mounted medals tend to have a red backing.

Simon

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If a woman is awarded the MBE or other chest/neck worn orders, she receives the insignia on a bow rather than as a straight chest ribbon or neck ribbon. However, if she wishes to wear her gongs in uniform, they are worn 'male' style.

A black backing to a court mount might be police or St John's Ambulance. The Guards Brigade uses scarlet because that's the colour of the full dress tunic.

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Interesting,

I look forward to an answer and wish I could supply some intelligence to this enigma...From the global perspective I agree that it could be a civilian or unconventional warfare. Consider the available information, decide which is most likely, then peel the onion one level at a time to find the answer. Thanks for such an intriguing forum, this is one of those reasons ODM is so fascinating.

M.

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Thank you for the welcome I'm very glad to have discovered this forum, it is definately the most comprehensive I've seen with helpful feedback.

The variety of theories and opinions makes researching that much more fascinating.

Jeff

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  • 7 months later...

Hello, if the French Legion d'Honneur was made prior to 1951 the blue rim around the centre medaillon on the obverse should read 1870 at the 6 o'clock position. After 1951 the year notation was changed to a star.

The picture is to small for me to see this, but if your cross bears a star it was issued after 1951.

regards

Herman

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Hi Herman, thanks for the info, it has 1870 at the 6 o'clock position with some chipping to the enamel so it must have been before 1951, I still strongly believe it was given either during or shortly after the War.

Jeff

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  • 1 month later...

I now have the complete gazette listing and citations for the 900+ British Bronze Star recipients so I can begin narrowing down the list. It's a start and will take some time but should be able to rule out anyone without an MBE and anyone who served in an operational theatre to begin with. Then eventually I can hopefully triangulate with Legion of Honour recipients from a few French resources I found. Process of elimination may just work, even if its only to attribute to the recipient :)

Jeff

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  • 1 month later...

I have just gone through the resource "United States Decorations Awarded to the Armed Forces of the British Empire in WWII" Parts 1 and 2 (edited by Jeff Floyd) which includes all 1191 Commonwealth recipients of the Bronze Star Medal from the Army, Navy, and Air Force extracted from the London Gazette.

I've narrowed the MBE-Bronze Star combos down to 55 out of 989 Army, 9 out of 175 RAF/RAFVR, and none out of 27 to the Naval forces.

From those 64 possibilities I was able to cancel out any that were awarded in a theater of war (N. Africa, Italy, Burma) so I am left with 27 Army and 7 RAF/RAFVR. I am keeping any awarded for "NW Europe" in case any were awarded for connections to the operations without ever having served in the operational theater.

From this list I will write to the Grand Chancellery of the Legion of Honor in Paris and determine if any of these were awarded the Officer of the Legion of Honor during the WWII period.

The possibility of actually determining the recipient is getting closer and quite exciting :)

Jeff

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