Sunday, 23 November 2014

The Problem of the Mons Star

A brief blog post but too long to tweet - but in a year of centenaries one was passed last night that some many have missed - to be awarded the Mons Star you needed to have served before 22 November 1914 - to gain the clasp you needed to have come under fire during this time - follow the link below to an image and details of the awarding criteria for it and all the campaign medal relevant to the Great War

Relatively few were awarded compared to other medals due to the nature of the BEF at this time - even fewer of these men were still serving on the front line by 1918 - but George Coward - by this time of the Royal Engineers and initially of the Somerset Light Infantry was, he possessed the Star and Clasp (see a previous blog post for a review of his diary - his vivid account of Ligny/Le Cateau leaves us in no doubt about this) and it affected him in both a positive and a negative way in 1918

Just as the German Spring Offensive was beginning in March 1918 Pt Coward was diagnosed with Pleurisy and sent back, under protest from himself and superiors, to England. He notes that on the way home what he describes as his "Mons medal ribbon" is noticed by an American orderly, who is hugely impressed by this - the information is passed to a Major who writes HSC on his medical card - which meant "Medical Ship, cabin". Coward describes it as the comfiest bed he has had for some time.

Back in England, this bit of ribbon becomes a problem, keen to re-join his unit, Coward is told "you have done your bit" and that his time on the front line was over - he tries again when as he has "pals" still out there and expresses a desire to be there at the end and to escape "baby parades" with new conscripts - he is again told that no man who served in 1914 is being sent back out

A reminder that you can order the diary of Pt George Coward here:

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