Posted 20 May 2003 - 06:51 PM
(thank’s for pointing that out T-; missed it whilst occupied elsewhere, as one does)
--------- I would also like to see “the paperwork” explaining this issue – if anyone knows of it. In the meantime the question of having to apply for deceased Officer’s medals >
As far as I am aware there is no straightforward answer to the question of the rules of issue of deceased Officer’s WW1 service medals to their next of kin – simply the sometimes ambiguous “evidence” to be found in Officer’s service files. I’ve always believed that any non-automatic issue to the senior next of kin of either a deceased Officer or Other Rank (assuming that no valid will specifying something contrary was in place) would contravene Standing Army Orders – para 180 of 1917 for example – the wording seems quite clear and unambiguous.
However, it is far from unusual to find Officer’s service files which have not been weeded of correspondence which specifically relates to the non-issue of service medals to deceased Officer’s nok, when no specific request for issue of the medals has previously been made – for example I was recently looking at the files of Lieut Wilfred Patrick O’Malley 88th Foot, and as late as 1924 his brother (also an ex Officer) was writing to the War Office pursuing WPO’M’s medal issues on behalf of his parents. There were no factors which could have obviously affected the issue of the medals – no change of the parent’s address (which was also WPO’M’s address, he was single and resided with his parents), and no change of nok as recorded on the commission application, etc. This type of correspondence is “relatively” commonplace.
I have heard a “theory” that at least some of these cases may have something to do with an over zealous application of the Regimental Debts Act 1893 (as amended) and that medal issues had not been made because probate had not been proved, or evidence to that effect had not been submitted, or some other “reason”. I am dubious about that because the RDA specifically excludes medals and decorations from being held against any outstanding debt which the Officer or OR may have against him at the time of his death, and elsewhere states that medals shall be disposed of in accordance with Royal Warrant – which takes you straight back to Army Orders.
So there is no easy answer – simply an observation based on experience – though the likelihood of coming across officer’s service files which include correspondence relating to the non issue of medals to deceased officer’s nok will of course depend a great deal on the number of officer’s files which one actually examines. It might however be disingenuous to make too much of that, so I wont.
Ditto medal index cards – I’ve looked at seven officer’s service records in the past two days – all Regulars, all with War Office file ledger references - five open files, one closed file, and one destroyed file (ie a valid “open” WO “long number” which does not relate to any WO339 service file in the NA [PRO] conversion codes, or any name index entry in WO374, as sometimes is the case with Regular officers). Five of those officers had medal index cards and two didn’t – the man with the closed file, who survived the war, and the man with the destroyed file, who had been killed in action (coincidentally he served in an Irish Regiment).
Again, I suppose that this may just boil down to “chance finds”, dependant upon the number of mic’s that one routinely examines. (And “examining mic’s” needs some comment elsewhere on the forum, when I get round to it). Regards - Tom