Medals and awards
A medal, or medallion, is, strictly speaking, a small, flat, and round (or, at times, ovoid) piece of metal that has been sculpted, molded, cast, struck, stamped, or some way marked with an insignia, portrait, or other artistic rendering. A medal may be awarded to a person or organization as a form of recognition for sporting, military, scientific, academic, or various other achievements. Military awards and decorations are more precise terms for certain types of state decoration.
Military decorations, service awards, and medals are often mistakenly confused with one another.
Decoration is a term for awards which require specific acts of heroism or achievement, such as the British Victoria Cross or American Silver Star. An award or decoration may be presented as a medal.
A service medal is an award to individuals who participated in designated wars, campaigns, or expeditions, or who have fulfilled specific service requirements in a creditable manner. Service medals are sometimes referred to as campaign medals.
A campaign medal is awarded to a military member who participates in a specific military campaign whereas a service medal is awarded to everyone in the military regardless of campaign credit.
The following medals and awards were available for, or awarded to, nearly all soldiers who served in the New Zealand armed forces during World War 1. The exceptions were those who signed up but for one reason or another never left New Zealand to serve in a theatre of war. For example, men who were discharged for medical reasons prior to leaving, or were in training in late 1918 when the war ended, or those who served as training or support personnel at the training camps throughout New Zealand, did not qualify.
Campaign Medals: New Zealand soldiers qualified for two or three: the trio were nicknamed “Pip, Squeak and Wilfred” after "Daily Mail" cartoon characters.
1. The 1914-15 Star was awarded for service in any theatre of war up between 5 August 1914 and 31 December 1915, and therefore included New Zealanders who served in Egypt, Gallipoli, and during the capture of German Samoa on 29 August 1914. The 1914 Star (incorrectly referred to as the “Mons Star”) was awarded only for service in France from 4 August up to 22 November 1914, which was before there were any New Zealand troops in France. There were however two New Zealand nurses who qualified.
2. The British War Medal was instituted in 1919 to recognise the successful conclusion of the First World War (1914-1918). Its coverage was later extended to recognise service until 1920, to cover mine clearing operations at sea, and participation in operations in North and South Russia, the eastern Baltic, Siberia, the Black Sea and the Caspian. It was awarded to those who served in WWI “over the seas”. The medal was silver, and some in bronze were issued to “native troops” e.g. labour and transport units from India, China, Malta and Macedonia. Members of the Maori Pioneer Battalion were issued with the medal in silver.
3. The Victory Medal was awarded to all New Zealand troops serving overseas, except for those who arrived in Samoa after 30 August 1914 and those serving in Great Britain only. It was never awarded alone, but as a pair with the British War Medal or as a trio with the 1914-15 Star (or 1914 Star) also. The medal was of alloy washed with gold, and was regarded as “cheap and unworthy”. The Victory medal required service in a theatre of war.
The Memorial Plaque and Scroll
“From 1919 and for several years after the end of the Great War there were over 1,000,000 plaques and scrolls sent to next of kin in commemoration of their soldiers, sailors, airmen and a few hundred women who died as a direct consequence attributable to service in the Great War. All those who died between 4th August 1914 and 30th April 1919 whilst in military service in the battlegrounds of the theatres of war and in the Dominions, as a result of sickness, suicide or accidents in the Home Establishments, or as a result of wounds incurred during their time in military service were commemorated on a plaque and a scroll.
The next of kin of the 306 British and Commonwealth military personnel who were executed following a Court Martial did not receive a memorial plaque.
The circular shape and coin-like appearance soon contributed to the nickname of this memorial plaque becoming widely known as the “Dead Man's Penny”, the “Death Penny”, “Death Plaque” or “Widow's Penny”.”
Awards for Gallantry and for Distinguished Service were usually different for officers (including senior NCOs) and “OR” or other ranks. These awards are designed to recognise military and civilian personnel who carried out acts which put their lives at risk while involved in war or warlike operational service or who put their own lives at risk while saving or attempting to save the life of another person. They also recognise meritorious or distinguished service in individual fields of activity or endeavour.
Victoria Cross (for all ranks)
The Victoria Cross (VC) is the highest military decoration awarded for valour "in the face of the enemy" to members of the armed forces of various Commonwealth countries, and previous British Empire territories. It is first in the order of wear in the United Kingdom honours system, and takes precedence over all other orders, decorations, and medals, including the Order of the Garter. It may be awarded to a person of any military rank in any service and to civilians under military command. The VC is usually presented to the recipient or to their next of kin by the British monarch at an investiture held at Buckingham Palace.
Eleven New Zealand men were awarded the Victoria Cross during World War 1.
Andrew, Leslie Corp
31 July 1917 (La Basseville, Belgium) - awarded 6 September 1917
2nd Battalion, Wellington Infantry Regiment, 1 NZEF
Bassett, Cyril Corp
7 August 1915 (Gallipoli, Turkey) - awarded 15 October 1915
NZ Divisional Signals, 1 NZEF
Brown, Donald Sergt
15 September 1916 (High Wood near Flers, France) - awarded 14 June 1917 (posthumous)
2nd Battalion, Otago Infantry Regiment, 1NZEF
Crichton, James Pvte
30 September 1918 (Crèvecoeur, France) - awarded 15 November 1918
2nd Battalion, Auckland Infantry Regiment, 1 NZEF
Forsyth, Samuel Sergt
24 August 1918 (Grévillers, France) - awarded 22 October 1918 (posthumous)
NZ Engineers, attached to 2nd Battalion, Auckland Infantry Regiment
7 June 1917 (Messines, Belgium) - awarded 2 August 1917
3rd NZ (Rifle) Brigade, 1 NZEF
Grant ,John Sergt
1 September 1918 (near Bancourt, France) - awarded: 27 November 1918
1st Battalion, Wellington Infantry Regiment, 1 NZEF
Judson, Reginald Sergt
26 August 1918 (near Bapaume, France) award: 30 October 1918 Note: He had already won three gallantry awards within a month in 1918 - the Distinguished Conduct Medal (DCM) and Military Medal (MM)
1st Battalion, Auckland Infantry Regiment, 1 NZEF
Laurent, John Sergt
12 September 1918 (Gouzeaucourt Wood, France) - awarded 15 November 1918
3rd NZ (Rifle) Brigade, 1 NZEF
Nicholas, Henry Pvte
3 December 1917 (Polderhoek, Belgium) - awarded 11 January 1918
Note: He had already won a Military Medal (MM)
1st Battalion, Canterbury Infantry Regiment, 1 NZEF
Travis, Richard Sergt
24 July 1918 (Rossignol Wood, France) - awarded 27 September 1918 (posthumous) Note: Known as ‘The King of No Man’s Land’.
1. Distinguished Conduct Medal was (until 1993) an extremely high level award for bravery. It was a second level military decoration awarded to other ranks of the British Army and formerly also to non-commissioned personnel of other Commonwealth countries.402 DCM’s were awarded to New Zealand soldiers during WW1.
2. Military Cross (MC) was awarded to non-commissioned officers and other ranks of the Army for acts of bravery for which the award of the Distinguished Conduct Medal (DCM) was not considered appropriate. It was a decoration for gallantry during active operations in the presence of the enemy and awarded to individuals in the British Army, the Indian Army or the Colonial Forces. Commissioned officers with the rank of Captain or below or Warrant Officer were eligible for the award. From June 1917 officers of the rank of captain but who had a temporary rank of major could receive the award. Over 500 MCs were awarded to New Zealand soldiers during WW1.
1. Military Medal (MM) for the Army was awarded for bravery in battle on land and was the equivalent for other ranks to the MC.
2. Distinguished Service Medal (DSM) was for Navy personnel for bravery and resourcefulness on active service at sea.
3. The Albert Medal was awarded for bravery which was not “before the enemy” e.g. for a fire in an ammunition store. There was The Albert Medal in Gold or the Albert Medal (in bronze); originally of the First (or Second) Class. In 1971 living recipients could exchange their Albert Medal for the George Cross, although not all did so.
4. Mentioned in Despatches (MID). A soldier mentioned in dispatches (or despatches) is one whose name appears in an official report written by a superior officer and sent to the high command, in which is described the soldier's gallant or meritorious action in the face of the enemy. In a number of countries, a soldier's name must be mentioned in dispatches as a condition for receiving certain decorations. The MID comprises an emblem to be worn on the ribbon of the Victory Medal. The bronze emblem was originally an oak-leaf spray, replaced in 1920 by an oak-leaf emblem. Only one emblem could be worn, even for multiple MIDs.
5. Meritorious Service Medal was awarded to NCOs for gallantry in WWI. It is also a long service award, generally 21+ years.
*Orders, Decorations and Medals awarded to New Zealanders (1991, Geoffrey P. Oldham) by Geoffrey P. Oldham & Brett Delahunt (ISBN 0-473-01016-X)
*British Military Medals (2009, Pen & Sword) by Peter Duckers (ISBN 978-1-84415-960-4)
 Pip, Squeak and Wilfred was a long-running British newspaper strip cartoon published in the Daily Mirror from 1919 to 1956, as well as the Sunday Pictorial in the early years. It was conceived by Bertram Lamb, who took the role of Uncle Dick, signing himself (B.J.L.) in an early book, and was drawn until c. 1939 by Austin Bowen Payne, who always signed as A. B. Payne. It concerned the adventures of an orphaned family of animals. Pip, who assumed the "father" role, was a dog, while the "mother", Squeak, was a penguin. Wilfred was the "young child" and was a rabbit with very long ears. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pip,_Squeak_and_Wilfred
 One of them was Ella Kate Cooke, one of 14 New Zealand nurses who travelled to France as volunteers to work with the French Flag Nursing Corps (FFNC). She remained in France for the next 8 months based at a hospital at Bernay. She then joined the Queen Alexandra's Imperial Nursing Service Reserve (QAIMNSR) and whilst serving attached to the 17 General Hospital in Alexandria, Egypt was accidentally killed when she stepped into the path of an oncoming train.
Initial material provided by John Wilson, supplemented by Barbara Mulligan