Figure 1: Obverse (left) and reverse of the Territorial Force War Medal.
Medal collectors generally are quite aware of numbers – especially when those numbers indicate the number of medals awarded for a specific campaign or the number of clasps awarded to a specific regiment for a campaign. There is good reason for this as the number of medals and/or clasps of a medal awarded may greatly affect the price of the medal. What ever the number indicates one must ensure that the numbers are accurate and that they correctly define the parameters that they claim to portray. A case in point is a list of the number of Territorial Force War Medals (TFWM) (Figure 1) to Royal Artillery (RA) officers in a recently published book on Great War Medals.1 That list indicates the following:
Table 1: Number of TFWMs to RA Officers Listed in The Great War Medal Collectors Companion.
In order to evaluate the accuracy of the numbers in Table 1 one must first determine if they agree with the medal roll for the Territorial Force War Medal that can be found at The National Archives.2 That roll indicates the following:
Table 2: Number of TFWMs to Royal Artillery Officers according to WO 329/3271.
One can immediately see a problem as the roll for Royal Artillery officers is separated into three separate headings: “RA,” “RFA” and “RGA” (and there are no listings for the RHA) rather than the two indicated in Table 1. There are also discrepancies in the total number of medals issued to Royal Artillery officers and in the numbers of medals issued to the various subdivisions the regiment. Note that the vast majority of the medals were issued to officers in the portion of the roll headed “RA.”
A close examination of the roll indicates that there is a further problem as nine of the Royal Artillery officers in the roll are listed twice:
- Page OFF/139 under the heading “RGA” lists “Thomson, E.G. Lieut.” with the notation “Medal returned / reissued” “X See E.J.” and nine lines above on the same page is “Thompson, E.J.” with the notations “X” and “Re-issued.” The medal index card4 for Major E.J. Thomson states that his TFWM was “issued to E.G. Thomson in error recalled INAW/8/6939 & reissued as above.”
- Lt J.I. Huggett, Lt Col J. Magnus, 2nd Lt J.E.B. Oakes and Lt Col H.A. Orme are listed under “Royal Artillery” on page OFF/171 and also under “RFA” on page OFF/132.
- Lt Col C.A. Blundell, Capt F.A.W. Cobbold, Maj J.R. Collins and Maj R.H. Davy are listed under “Royal Artillery” on page OFF/171 and under “RGA” on page OFF/139.
If Table 2 is adjusted to account for the nine duplicated names (using “RGA” or “RFA” rather than “RA”) the following numbers are obtained:
Table 3: Numbers in Table 2 readjusted for the nine names that are duplicated on the roll.
The problem with Table 3 is that many of the TFWMs listed on the roll under “RFA” and “RGA” were actually issued with the unit indicated as “RA.” To date, TFWMs to eight officers have been identified whose names are listed on the roll labelled “RFA,” but whose medals were actually issued named to the “RA,” the same has been found for three TFWMs to officers listed on the roll labelled “RGA.” In total, of the 66 TFWMs to Royal Artillery officers known to the author only one has been named to the “RGA” and one has been listed on eBay as named to the “RFA.” This indicates that many of the TFWMs to the 42 officers on the “RFA” roll and the 28 on the “RGA” roll were actually named to the “RA.” In the group of five to Colonel Alexander Robert Mutch, RGA (Figure 2) the TFWM is named “LIEUT., R.A.”
Figure 2: The group of five with the Territorial Force War Medal to Colonel A.R. Mutch, RGA.
Additionally, most of the 368 Royal Artillery officers who are listed on the rolls under the heading “RA” actually served during the Great War with either the “RFA” or the “RGA”. Table 4 indicates the subdivision of the Royal Artillery indicated on the medal index cards for the 438 Royal Artillery officers listed in Table 3.
Table 4: Subdivision of the Royal Artillery (based on medal index cards) in which the 438 Royal Artillery Officers shown in Table 3 actually served.
While the above numbers may be primarily of interest to those who collect medals to Royal Artillery officers, they should also be a warning to all medal collectors that before they blindly accept the numbers presented by others, they should carefully check to ensure that the numbers are both accurate and precise. An online database of Royal Artillery Officers who received the TFWM is available here.
- Harold Williamson. The Great War Medal Collectors Companion. Harwich, Essex: Anne Williamson, 2011, p 131
- The National Archives WO 329/3271
- Six awards to HAC officers have been ignored in all the totals as they are a separate listing and are not all to HAC officers who served with the Royal Artillery
- The National Archives WO 372/20/11276
- The Honourable Artillery Company which had both an artillery and an infantry component.