Wednesday, 7 December 2011

Medals galore!

In attempting to sort out the Victorian histories of various fictional characters, I've looked at two, to start with, General Melchett (Blackadder) and Lance-Corporal Jones (Dad's Army).

General Sir Anthony Cecil Hogmanay Melchett:

info from Wiki here: and the discussions here:

Victoria Cross, the Order of the Bath (KCB), Distinguished Service Order

the campaign medals, which are worn in order of the campaign for which they are awarded: the South Africa Medal awarded for service in the Anglo-Zulu War. Next is the red-green-red of the Afghanistan Medal (1878-80)

the East and West Africa Medal, awarded from services in the region from 1887 onward; the blue-and-white Egypt Medal (1882-89); the Khedive's Star, which was awarded by the Khedive of Egypt to personnel who also qualified for the Egypt Medal; the red-green-red-green-red of the India Medal (1896).

Queen's South Africa Medal (1899), King's South Africa Medal, India General Service Medal, the 1914 Star

Corporal Jones:

info from here:

Joined the army as a drummer boy in 1884; Mahdist War in the Sudan (1884–1885) - Egypt Medal (1882–1889), Khedive's Sudan Medal (1882–1891)

the British Reconquest of Sudan (1896–1899) - Queen's Sudan Medal (1897), Khedive's Sudan Medal (1897)

the Boer War (1899–1901) - Queen's South African War Medal(1899–1902), King's South African War Medal (1901–1902)

He also once formed part of a Guard of Honour for Queen Victoria.

the First World War (1914–1918)- 1914 Star (or 1914–15 Star), British War Medal, Allied Victory Medal, Long Service and Good Conduct Medal

Occasionally he mentions fighting the Pathans in the North-West Frontier (he is probably referring to either the Second or the Third Anglo-Afghan War)... India Medal(1895–1902), India General Service Medal (1909) and then WWI medals.

I have assumed he cannot have served in the Third Anglo-Afghan War as he was invalided out of the Army in 1916, and the Third Anglo-Afghan War was fought in 1919. But the Second Anglo-Afghan War (1878-80, in which Sherlock Holmes's companion Dr Watson was injured) was before Jones joined up. However, there were numerous campaigns and actions from 1888-1908 in the North-West Frontier Province, especially between 1895-1902, and Jones could have been involved in more than one of these.

There is thus a close correspondence between Melchett's and Jones's medals - if as I have assumed the 'Khedive's Star' is the same as the 'Khedive's Sudan Medal' etc.

A list of correspondences is as follows (sadly as I can't sort out the formatting it's a little difficult to read):

Melchett / Jones / Year(s)
Egypt Medal / Egypt Medal / 1882-89
Khedive's Star / Khedive's Sudan Medal / 1882-91
East and West Africa Medal /(none) / 1887-1900
India Medal / India Medal / 1895-1902
(none) / Queen's Sudan Medal / 1896-98
(none) / Khedive's Sudan Medal / 1897
Queen's South Africa Medal / Queen's South Africa Medal / 1899-1902
King's South Africa Medal / King's South Africa Medal / 1901-02
India General Service Medal / India General Service Medal / 1908-1935
1914 Star / 1914 or 1914-15 Star / 1917 or 1918

These military careers are very similar, in many ways. Apart from the years 1890-99 they seem very close, and even in this period both served in India (receiving the India Medal) and in Africa (Jones took part in the relief of Omdurman in 1898, Melchett received the East and West Africa Medal for service in Africa sometime between 1887-1900). It is possible that they served together? We will perhaps never know. But once I've collated this info with the information about fictional British regiments, I might have a few answers...

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