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Wellington's Army


Experimental British General Service Medal
Submitted by Robert Henderson

Published in the United Services Journal in 1831 was a letter to the editor requesting for the issue of general service medal or "cross of distinction"and describing what it should look like. The details , with an illustration, are as follows:

Design for a Cross of Distinction

"It has been repeatedly and justly urged in the United Services Journal that a Badge of Merit should be conferred upon all naval and military officers, who have been personally engagedon any occasion against the enemies of their country.

Although many arguments might be used in favour of the measure, I will only remark, that the officers and men of the French, Austrian, Prussian, and Russian amy, who served in the most important campaigns on the Continent, are distinguished in this manner; that the humblest private who was at the battle of Waterloo wears a medal; that the Companionship and Commandery of the Bath have been given to such officers as, when serving against the enemy, held the rank of General or Field-officer in the Army, or Commander, Post-Captain, or Admiral of the Navy; and that every Soldier or Sailor who is discharged after twenty years' service, with a certificate of good conduct, is entitled by a recent regulation to receive a medal. Thus, the only class who are excluded from so gratifying a reward, are the Captains and Subalterns of the Army, and Lieutenants and Midshipmen of the Navy, individuals to whom, as much as to their superiors, the success of our amrs may be attributed.

The purport of this letter is, however to suggest what it appears advisable should be done in satisfaction of the claims of old and meritorious officers. The first object is to define the principle upon which a Badge of Merit should be conferred. The this point I would earnestly invite the attention of your correspondents, all of whom concur in thinking the boon important; but do not state, for the information of the Government, upon whom, in their opinions, it ought to be bestowed. My view of the subject is, that it should be given to EVERY OFFICER (including Midshipmen and Warrant Officers of the Navy) WHO HAS ACTUALLY FOUGHT AGAINST THE ENEMIES OF HIS COUNTRY, whether in skirmishes, or in general actions. By addressing a circular to the officers of both services, it might be easily ascertained whether they were, or were not, entitled to the proposed distinction.

I shall now say a few words on the Badge itself, which, should the expense of gold or silver be objected to, might, in my opinion, be formed of the metal of guns, iron or brass, taken from the enemy during the war. Of this appropriate material, crosses might be cast of the most simple form. I would suggest farther, that the Badge be the CROSS OF ST. GEORGE, surmounted by the Imperial Crown of these Realms. On the centre of the cross there should be the Lion of England, in alto relievo, of a large size, and on each of threee divisions of the cross, on word of the motto, "FROM OUR COUNTRY" and in the lower division, " WILLIAM IV. MDCCCXXXI." with a wreath formed of the Rose, Shamrock, and Thistle, encircling each part of the Cross.

This Cross should be worn from the button-hole on the left side, by a ribbon of the breadth of one inch and a half, formed of four equal stripes, blue, red, blue, red, which would not interfere with the ribbon of any Order of Knighthood in the world.

In conclusion, allow me to ask whether it would not be desirable for the officers of both Services to present a humble and modest memorial for a distinction of this nature to His Majesty?

Yours, Mr Editor,

L.L.L."

Copyright Access Heritage Inc (formerly The Discriminating General) 1995


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