20 September 2015

Harpers online

There are some nice medal groups on the recently re-vamped Harpers website, and if medals aren't particularly your thing, or if you're looking for that unusual gift for someone special, there are other categories guaranteed to tempt.

Site-owner and man behind Harpers, Jon Murphy, has just introduced a newsletter as a means of keeping in touch and you can subscribe to it on the site. I was pleased to be asked contribute an article to the first issue which means that it's bound to become a collectors' item in the not too distant future. Subscribe now by following the instructions at the bottom of the home page.

14 September 2015

27079 Sapper William Henry Butt, L Signal Coy, Royal Engineers

I picked up this broken group at the DNW auction last week. I don't usually buy broken groups but I like medals awarded to the original BEF and besides, this one included a Medaille Militaire, albeit with most of the enamel missing from the face.

As DNW were quick to point out, the clasp on the 1914 Star isn't verified but I'm guessing that William was entitled to wear it and picked up a copy from a local tailor. As for the man himself, the book, Honours & Awards to the Old Contemptibles confirms the Medaille Militaire award and notes SR (or Special Reserve) next to William's name. This is interesting because his regimental number does not belong to the Special Reserve series and dates to around April 1913.

I have not yet confirmed William's entitlement to the Defence Medal but he was entitled to the Queen's South Africa Medal and King's South Africa Medal, having served in South Africa as 4607 Sapper William H Butt from June 1900 until September 1902. He received the usual three state clasps on his QSA and the usual two date clasps on his KSA, all of which means that the three silver medals from this group are missing and could well have been scrapped several decades ago. But if they do still survive, and the owner wishes to part with them, please do get in touch.

William was the son of Thomas and Maria Butt and was born in Portland, Dorset in 1872. He married Annie Florence Legg in Dorchester in 1903 and a son, Kenneth Butt, was born on the 31st January 1911. I have not yet confirmed a death date for William.

Photo courtesy of Dix Noonan Webb.

5 September 2015

42138 Sgt Frederick Hussey, MM

I picked up this MM for a couple of hundred euros at a brocante in France the other week. Nothing wrong with the medal itself which appears to be genuine, it's the naming and the entitlement which is questionable.
The medal is named to 42138 SGT F. HUSSEY 2/4 D.W.R
Therein lies the first problem. There is no 42138 Sgt Hussey. I checked the usual medal rolls and service records and came up with 42168 Sergeant Frederick Hussey. He has surviving service papers and he did serve with the 2/4th Duke of Wellington's (West Riding Regiment), albeit not until 1919 after he had volunteered for a year's service with the Army of Occupation:
There is no mention on his service papers of an MM award and his name does not appear in "For Bravery in the Field" or in the London Gazette. At this point in time then, I suspect that for whatever reason, a genuine MM was obtained and re-named (although I have yet to measure the medal with calipers to confirm this).
Hussey himself had a long service history having originally joined the Leicestershire Regiment in 1886 (having seen prior service with the Royal Berkshire Regiment militia). His First World War attestation papers note 24 years' service with the 1st Leicestershire Regiment and the Royal Fusiliers and record his age in May 1915 as 44 years and six months (although according to his original 1886 papers he was born around July 1878 and therefore would have been closer to 47 years old). He saw service with the 12th, 16th and 22nd battalions of the Durham Light Infantry as well as the Training Reserve and the 53rd (Young Soldiers) Battalion of the KOYLI. He was, it would appear, a soldier through and through and so whilst the provenance of the MM may be questionable, I'm still pleased with the purchase.  If anyone can add to Frederick Hussey's story, please drop me a line.
Service record screenshot courtesy of The National Archives.