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tootrock

Identifying medals

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I am assisting a friend in some research, and he has produced this photograph of an ancestor. Can anyone identify his medals from the ribbons? (Difficult in black and white).

I think the cap badge is of the Royal West Kent regiment. His name is probably Willans. He was possibly a professional soldier and served some time in India. I cannot find an MIC for a Willans in the Royal West Kents.

 

Any information gratefully appreciated.

 

Martin

PostWarWillans.jpg.cbb46a5ca64ba2ecf32afebb66d00f21.jpg

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Military Medal

Khedive's Sudan, 1910

British War Medal

Victory Medal

General Service Medal, 1918-1962

Army Long Service and Good Conduct Medal

 

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The only man named Willans awarded the Military Medal in the Great War was John Willans https://www.thegazette.co.uk/London/issue/31227/page/3436 His medal index card states that he was WO2 6929 Yorkshire Regt. and 114263 M.G.C., and later 7810544 Yorkshire Regt. He was also entitled to the General Service Medal with clasp Iraq. The M.M. was for the Machine Gun Corps.

The correspondence address on the back of the card was given as Rose-Lea, Ham Street, Ashford, Kent.

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Thanks for that.

I have a further picture of this man, who I now assume must be John Willans.

Can anything further be gleaned from this?

What is the uniform?

What is the item on his right sleeve?

What is the medal on the table?

Could this be a prize for shooting - he apparently worked at the ranges in Bisley during the 1930's.

 

Again, any information gratefully received.

 

Martin

IndiaPic.jpg.7e40cff1d11880a7926dfaecb80abbd3.jpg

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By a search of "The Times" digital archive I have partly answered my own question. In 1928 CSM J.Willans of the Queen's Royal West Kent's won the King's Medal at Bisley, The item on his upper right arm looks as if it may be that medal.

No idea about the other item.

Might that be a musketry badge on his lower right sleeve?

 

Martin

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ID: 6   Posted (edited)

Hi,

 

Think you're correct...

 

Looks to me that it's a Warrant Officer's Crown rank insignia above  "crossed muskets".

 

Steve Y

Edited by tullybrone

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There is a discharge record for J Willans on Ancestry here. Same man?

 

I assume the MoD has his records, or something of his, still on file?

 

J Willans

Birth Date: 14 Feb 1888

Service Number: 7810544

Rank: Army Other Ranks, Discharges for 1921-1939

Reference Number: ADT000678131

 

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The Kent & Sussex Courier of 20 July 1928, under the heading "Bisley Hero's Homecoming", carries a report showing C.S.M. John Willans being carried shoulder high, on a chair, by his comrades of the 4th Bn. Royal West Kent Regt. The report mentions that he lived in Edenbridge, that Mrs. Willans was there to meet him, and that he had a son L/Cpl. J. R. Willans and a daughter. He was the first Territorial in the British Army to win the "King's Medal at Bisley and champion shot in the British Army".

The Leeds Mercury of 4 July 1928 also stated that he was a native of Leeds and had served 22 years in the Regular Army and then joined the Territorials.

Reports also mention that J. R. Willans was 19 and had shot against his father in competition. There was no mention of his M.M.

In the 1911 census his wife Lydia 27, son John 2 (born in Alexandria, Egypt), and daughter Lydia 4 (born Aldershot, Hampshire), were living at 38, Rectory Grove, Woolwich with her brother Charles Chambers and his wife Rebecca. From the stated completed years of marriage it is possible to find the marriage registration of John Willans to Lydia (Maud) Chambers.

14 April 1906 at St. John's Church, Woolwich - John Willans, 23, bachelor, soldier 1st Yorks (model maker), father James Richard Willans model maker, married Lydia Maud Chambers, 22, spinster, 28 Dicey? St., Woolwich, father Charles Henry Chambers, clerk. [model maker after 1st Yorks suggest John Willans' former trade].

John William Willans, otherwise John of Lyndor, Manor Road, Farnborough, Hampshire died 29 November 1952 (aged 69 years) at 44, Hale Road, Farnham, Surrey. Administration granted to Lydia Maud Willans widow and John Richard Willans carpenter.   

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Harry,

Thanks for that: I had already found out a lot of this, including the "chairing" article.

I note that the Army Discharge details in #7 has the wrong year for his birth (should be 1883).

Do you have a connection to John William Willans?

 

Martin

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ID: 10   Posted (edited)

Without wishing to be a nit-picker, I would, therefore, suggest that the second medal is, in fact, his King's Medal for Champion Shot instead of a Sudan 1910, and is worn strictly speaking in the wrong place - as it should be worn after his Long Service and Good Conduct Medal. 

Edited by Staffsyeoman

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Martin,

Post #9 - Do I have any connection with John William Willans? None at all - just curious.

Harry

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ID: 12   Posted (edited)

Staffsyeoman,

 

He may well have qualified for a Sudan medal, as he had a son who was born in Alexandria in 1909, so he must have been in the area!.

Also one would hope that a man with 22 years regular service would get his medals positioned correctly.

I note that both the Sedan medal and the King's Medal may have a clasp, which appears in the photo.

Can his rank be determined from the photograph - he was Company Sergeant Major when he won at Bisley?

 

Martin

Edited by tootrock
additional fact

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On ‎20‎/‎06‎/‎2017 at 12:54, tootrock said:

Staffsyeoman,

 

He may well have qualified for a Sudan medal, as he had a son who was born in Alexandria in 1909, so he must have been in the area!.

Also one would hope that a man with 22 years regular service would get his medals positioned correctly.

I note that both the Sedan medal and the King's Medal may have a clasp, which appears in the photo.

Can his rank be determined from the photograph - he was Company Sergeant Major when he won at Bisley?

 

Martin

 

The Sudan medal is a red herring I'm afraid; I'm certain he is wearing his King's Medal for Champion Shots in the first photograph (in the wrong position, as noted). In the second photo he is wearing something very similar to the King's Medal on his right sleeve; the ribbon colours look right, but the suspension of the medal looks a bit off. His rank insignia (crown on lower sleeve) is consistent with the rank/appointment of WOII (CSM), and the pose with rifle and prize on table makes me think it could well have been taken in celebration of his win at Bisley. Perhaps it was a representation of the actual medal given at the competition, ahead of the proper version with dated clasp being prepared.

 

Returning to the Sudan medal, the 1910 Khedive's Medal was issued in very limited numbers to the British Army, to the handful of officers and men attached as instructors to local forces, and to some small units employed on the Darfur expedition in 1916 (Army Service Corps, RFC and a couple of machine gun sections). The medal has Arabic script on the obverse and a scene depicting a lion and sunrise on the reverse, whereas you can just make out the ghost of King George V's effigy on the medal in the first picture.

 

As to the incorrect positioning of the medal in the group, it was such an unusual thing (only one each awarded annually to the Regular Army and T.A.) that it wouldn't surprise me if the regimental tailor wasn't too sure where to mount it. Being a prestigious award, it also wouldn't be surprising if an assumption was made that it belonged at the front end of the group rather than the back ! Even professional soldiers get these things wrong from time to time.

 

Bart

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Thanks for that.

I now know that the second photograph was in fact taken when he was still serving in India (note the shorts). In 1923 he won the Bangalore Championship shooting competition, and in 1924 he won the Indian Army Championship Gold Jewel (which may be the item on the table - I have been unable to locate an image of this). He was discharged having served 22 years, later that year and returned to the UK. He then joined the Royal West Kents as a Territorial, and won the Bisley prize in 1928.

He was also awarded a clasp for service in Iraq according to his MIC, but as there was correspondence dated 1925 regarding that maybe he had not yet received it when the photo was taken.

My friend intends to apply for his records from the MOD. This might throw more light on the matter.

 

Martin

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ID: 15   Posted (edited)

19 hours ago, tootrock said:

He was also awarded a clasp for service in Iraq according to his MIC, but as there was correspondence dated 1925 regarding that maybe he had not yet received it when the photo was taken.

 

 

Martin

 

The clasp is there on his GSM (second from the right in the photo). It's not as prominent as that on the King's Medal, perhaps because it sits lower on the ribbon, but I'm confident it's there. Medal and clasp would have been issued at the same time - there were no circumstances in which this medal was issued without a clasp.

 

The relevant medal roll (held at The National Archives, but also available on ancestry.com) is in WO 100/G4/414, originally compiled in Madras in November 1924. On it he is described as 7810544 CSM (Instructor of Musketry) J. Willans, 1st Battalion Green Howards, but at the time he qualified for the clasp he was serving as 114263, CSM of 8th Battalion Machine Gun Corps, and so I would expect the medal itself to be impressed with these details (probably as WO. CL. 2, M.G.C.). By the time the medal was actually issued he is marked as discharged; the issue voucher reference for it is dated February 1925.

 

Bart

Edited by Bartimeus

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