26 August 2012

1914 Star

Following my post about the WWI trio awarded to Douglas Welsh and the 1914 Star in his trio, I have been asked several times about the difference between the 1914 Star and the 1914-15 Star. These links from wiki gives some detail -1914 Star and 1914-15 Star
Even though Australian service men were fighting in German controlled New Guinea in 1914 they did not receive the 1914 Star due to the quailing criteria being for service 'in France and Belgium between 5 Aug and 22 Nov 1914'. These men received the 1914-15 Star. So a 1914 Star is very rear to an AIF soldier as very few qualified for it.
I have also found a very good article on the British Medal Forum written by Geoff Reeves. Geoff has kindly given me permission to reproduce his article.

The following will be a very brief introduction to the 1914 Star. It should cover the basics that the new collector needs to know if they are to collect Great War medals.
General Description:
The 1914 Star (also known as the "Mons" Star after the BEF's fighting retreat to Mons) was authorised in April 1917. Physically it is a 4-pointed Star (though the top point is "hidden" by a crown), approximately 50mm in height and 45mm in width. Additionally there are 2 crossed swords running through the centre of the medal. A scroll appears in the gaps formed by the swords and it reads (from top to bottom) "AUG"; "1914"; "NOV". Finally a wreath runs around the perimeter of the star and at the bottom is George V's cypher. It is not known who designed this medal.
The riband is 3 vertical, uniform stripes of Red, White, and Blue - watered (that is, where the colours run into one another slightly).
One clasp was issued for this medal - that for 5 Aug - 22 Nov 1914.
Approximately 387 000 1914 Stars were issued and of these - approximately 145 000 qualified for the clasp. The clasp was authorized in 1919. A rosette was issued for wear on the on the ribbon when medals were not worn. this rosette was to denote the receipt of the clasp to the 1914 Star. Two things about this rosette: 1) it is sometimes seen, in place of the clasp, on the riband of a 1914 Star medal - this is incorrect - it was to denote the clasp when medals were not worn. 2) it is sometimes heard that the rosette was to differentiate the ribbons of the 1914 star and the 1914-15 Star when ribbons only were worn. This is a myth. The ribbons are identical and nothing was done to differentiate them. The rosette on the undress ribbon always denotes receipt of the clasp, not just the 1914 Star.
Qualification: Medal
Qualification for the 1914 Star was for those who served in France or Belgium from 5th August 14 to midnight of 22/23 Nov 14. NB: The Royal Navy did not receive this medal, they received the 1914-15 Star - the exception being those who were at Antwerp prior to 22/23 Nov 14. A list of the units of the RN who qualified can be found below.
Qualification: Clasp
Qualification for the 5 Aug-22 Nov clasp was for all those who were under fire between those dates. "Under Fire", as I understand it, meant those serving within range of the German mobile artillery (in other words - within a couple of miles of the front lines).
All 1914 Stars are impressed in block capitals - in 3 lines - with the recipients Number, Rank and Name, and unit (with line infantry the battalion number is often included - something not seen on later medals).
This, as I stated in the opening lines, is a very basic piece on the 1914 Star and its characteristics. There are exceptions, nuances, and variations associated with this medals - as there are with all medals - but the scope of this article is only to familiarize the beginner with what he or she needs to know.
The research potential for the 1914 Star is, like all other Great War medals, fairly good. MIC's (Medal Index Cards) are available online from the National Archives website and can be downloaded in .pdf format for £3.50. A visit to the NA, at Kew in Surrey, may yield more information in the form of the soldier's service record. If you cannot make it yourself there are researchers who can be hired to do this.
Two caveats here: you might be disappointed to find that the soldier's record did not survive - as a portion of the Army's service files were destroyed during the London Blitz. I believe, however, that the RN and RAF files survived unscathed. Nevertheless it is always worth looking.
The second caveat is to choose your researcher carefully - shop around, as you would when looking for any professional service - some are better than others, and there's no point in paying someone £20.00 of your hard-earned money to tell you that no record was found, when one does indeed exist (and I'm speaking from personal experience here). So, ask several different people whom they would use and then contact the researcher and ask them about their rates and exactly what services they provide. Do they do the research themselves or do they have research assistants (who may or may not be as qualified) do the actual legwork? What papers, if extant, will they be searching for? (I've heard of some people paying good money to just get the MIC and an extract from the regimental history - something you don't need a researcher for!) What fees will they charge: are the fees the same whether the researcher is successful or not? Anyway, you get the idea.
Other sources of research are the relevant war diaries (a record of the battalion's day-to-day activities that will often list officers - it is rare, however, to see an other-rank listed by name), the Regimental Histories (once again, usually only officers get mentioned by name, but many have casualty lists and gallantry rolls for all ranks), Regimental museums (some are more helpful than others but it never hurts to inquire), Regimental Journals (often can be found in used-book stores - I've found many to my regiment of interest at these sorts of places), various military history or regimental websites, and of course, fora like these (especially this one!)

These photos show an example of both medals:


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