There is one unique feature common to the scores of different military campaign medals awarded to British servicemen since the Napoleonic Wars - most of them are individually named to the men upon whose chests they were pinned. Gallantry decorations were not often named at the time of the aware, but many recipients had them engraved later, and they often come on to the market grouped with that man's campaign medals. Thus medals are not only attractive and interesting to collect in their own right; they also invite research into the background, military career, eventual fate, and sometimes even the physical appearance of the men who won them on the battlefields of the past 200 years.
Since ancient times bureaucrats have been obsessed with keeping complete records of the most trivial details, and have been reluctant to ever discard these accumulating lists and files. A remarkable number of military personnel records still survive from as early as the 18th century, and are accessible to researchers in the Public Record Office, and other archives.
In this fascinating book an experienced medal collector and researcher leads you step by step through a wide variety of such primary sources, and gives tips on following up many less obvious clues. He explains in practical detail exactly how to hunt down those records which will bring to vivid life the piece of metal and scrap of coloured ribbon which you hold in your hand. The stories they tell are absorbing, exciting, and often poignant.
Family genealogy has become a widely popular pastime in recent years; and Steve Dymond's advice is as helpful to those researching family trees as it is to specialist medal collectors. A medal is an invaluable milestone for such researchers, since it pins down a perhaps long-dead ancestor at a definite time and place, and opens the door to rich archive sources which are not available for most civilian careers of the 19th and early 20th centuries.
Throughout the text the author illustrates his practical advice with step-by-step research into a group of representative medal recipients, from a Royal Navy seaman of the early Victorian period, through officers and soldiers who served in India and Egypt, to the Great War - an important period in the history of most British families - and finally to a Lancaster bomber crewman who gave his life for his country in 1943. The depth of information he uncovers is fascinating, and shouls inspire anyone who owns a medal to undertake this absorbing detective work.
Introduction and Acknowledgements
1. Medals in General
2. First Steps
3. The Publica Record Office
4. PRO: Army Officers' Records
5. PRO: Army Other Ranks' Records
6. PRO: Naval Officers' Records
7. PRO: Naval Ratings' Records
8. PRO: Naval Marines Records
9. PRO: Royal Air Force Records
10. Printed Sources
11. Newspapers and Magazines
13. Genealogical Sources
14. Miscellaneous Sources
15. The First World War
16. Help is at Hand
17. Finishing Touches
Summary of Research into Selected Medals
Appendix 1. Research Checklist
Appendix 2. WO 100 Medal Rolls
Appendix 3. ADM 171 Medal Rolls
Appendix 4. India Office Medal Rolls
Appendix 5. PRO: Colonials and Irregulars
Appendix 6. Regimental Magazines
Appendix 7. Useful Addresses