Pip, Squeak and Wilfred
brief guide to British military campaign medal entitlement in
1914-1918. See also gallantry awards.
popularly known as the Mons Star.
This medal was awarded to all officers, warrant officers, non-commissioned
officers, and all men of the British and Indian Forces, including
civilian medical practitioners, nursing sisters, nurses and others
employed with military hospitals; as well as men of the Royal
Navy, Royal Marines, Royal Naval Reserve and Royal Naval Volunteer
Reserve who served with on the establishment of their unit in
France and Belgium between August 5th 1914, and midnight of November
decoration consists of a lacquered bronze star, the uppermost
ray of the star taking the form of the imperial crown. Resting
on the face of the star is a pair of crossed swords, and, on them,
is a circular oak wreath. A scroll winds around the swords : it
is inscribed with the date Aug.-Nov. 1914. The ribbon is red merging
into white and then into blue. A bar inscribed "5 Aug. to
22 Nov. 1914" was given to all those who served under fire.
Since the same ribbon is used with the 1914-15 Star, holders of
the earlier award were permitted to wear a small silver rosette
on their ribbon when the decoration itself is not worn.
A Star similar to the 1914 Star was issued to all personnel mentioned
above, with certain exceptions, who served in a theatre of war
before December 31st 1915 and who did not qualify for the earlier
British War Medal, 1914-16.
It is impossible to set out all the details of qualification for
this medal, but briefly, the requirement was that a member of
the fighting forces had to leave his native shore in any part
of the British Empire while on service. It did not matter whether
he/she entered a theatre of war or not.
The medal is silver, and circular. A truncated bust of King George
V is on the obverse, while there is a depiction of Saint George
on the reverse. There is a straight clasp carrying a watered silk
ribbon. This has a central band of golden yellow with three stripes
of white, black and blue on both sides. The blue stripes come
at the edges. An attempt was made to draw up a list of bars, but
it was found to be an overwhelming task and was abandoned. Some
4,700,000 of these medals were struck for distribution at home,
and another 600,000 in the Dominions and Colonies.
Victory Medal, 1914-1918.
This medal was awarded to all those who entered a theatre of war
(and presumably took part in the fighting, logistics or medical
services). It follows that every recipient of the Victory Medal
also qualified for the British War Medal, but not the other way
round. 300,000 fewer Victory Medals were required than British
War Medals. All three services were eligible. It is not generally
known that Victory Medals continued to be awarded after the Armistice,
for the British forces who saw action in North Russia (up to October
12th, 1919) and Trans-Caspia (up to April 17th, 1919) also qualified.
The medal was struck in bronze. On the obverse is a full-length
figure of Victory. On the reverse is the inscription "The
Great War for Civilisation". There is no clasp, but a ting
attachment through which the ribbon is passed. The official description
of the colour of the ribbon is "two rainbows with red in
the centre". An oak-leaf emblem was sanctioned for those
who were mentioned in despatches.
Squeak and Wilfred
combination of the Star, Victory Medal and War Medal was fairly
commonplace. You could observe hundreds of them in Armistice Day
parades, right up to the early '70's. This combination earned
for itself the common nickname, 'Pip, Squeak and Wilfred'.
record was kept for every individual,
which showed their specific medal entitlement. Luckily, these
records have survived. They are known as the Medal Rolls
and are available for you to see in the Public Record Office
in Kew, London. The original cards were microfilmed, and the
sequence of indexing was somewhat quaint, but you should be
able to track down your man. You will glean quite a lot of useful
information here, because the cards showed date of enlistment,
regiment or corps, date of death if applicable, and occasionally
some other information. Your problem will be if his name was
Bill Smith, for of course there were many duplications of names.
You might need to record them all, and see what else you can
do to narrow down your searches.