Shropshire History  

Shropshire

Medal Recipients

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Prior to the early 19th Century, medals were only awarded to high ranking officers.  An example of this was the Army Gold Medal, issued during the Peninsular War but only to those with a rank of Colonel and above. During the 19th Century, governments began to present medals to all soldiers and officers involved in a campaign. These medals often had a metal bar (known as a clasp) across the ribbon, engraved with the names of the major battles the recipient had fought in during the campaign. The Sutlej Medal was the earliest medal to use such bars. Medals were awarded to members of Shropshire’s armed forces for campaigns and acts of bravery.  The latter were inscribed with the recipient’s name on the back and were personally awarded by a senior officer or even the sovereign at Buckingham Palace. Campaign medals were usually mass produced and not inscribed. The medal itself hung off a coloured ribbon that distinguished the type of award and these were worn on formal occasions on the left breast. Normal working uniform just had a small piece of the colored ribbin sewn on.

 

Victoria Cross

 

8 Victoria Crosses have been awarded to members of Shropshire regiments.

 

Corporal Denis Dynan

53rd Regiment of Foot - Indian Mutiny 1857

On 2nd October 1857, Major English commanding 350 men of the regiment arrived at Chattra and found that around 3,000 rebels of the Ramghur Battalion and other mutineers had occupied it. Despite the odds, Major English decided on an immediate attack and for over an hour there was ferocious hand-to-hand fighting in the streets of Chattra. By the time the mutineers broke off the action and fled, the regiment had lost 42 men killed or wounded. During the fighting, 4 field guns had opened a well-directed and lethal fire on the attacking force. One of these was firing grapeshot at close range and was causing severe casualties, killing or wounding one third of a company of 11th Bengal Infantry led by a Lieutenant Daunt. It was captured by a direct infantry attack led by Lieutenant Daunt and Corporal Dynan.  The medal was confirmed in the London Gazette on 25th February 1862 and awarded in May 1862 at at the Royal Military Hospital, Kilmainham, Dublin.

 

Lieutenant Alfred Kirke-Ffrench

53rd Regiment of Foot - Indian Mutiny 1857

On 16th November 1857, the regiment joined in an attack on mutineers besieging Lucknow. A large number of mutineers, in a walled area called the Sikander Bagh, poured an overwhelming fire on the advancing troops. Their position was desperate, as they were only 120 yards from the walls and their flank was exposed. An attack was then made on the position by the 93rd Highlanders and the 4th Punjab Infantry, supported by the 53rd Regiment. Kirke-Ffrench led his Grenadier Company in this attack and was  one of the first to enter the buildings. Rule 13 of the award rules state that, where a number of men display equal gallantry, those who were present in the action could choose amongst themselves who was to receive the award. As a result, he was awarded the medal following a ballot of the officers and men of his regiment. The medal was confirmed in the London Gazette on 24th December 1858 but it is not known where it as awarded.

 

Private Charles Irwin

53rd Regiment of Foot - Indian Mutiny

On 16th November 1857, Kenny took part in the same action as Lieutenant Kirke-Ffrench above and was one of the first men into the buildings, where he was wounded in the shoulder. He was also awarded the medal following a ballot of the officers and men of his regiment. The medal was confirmed in the London Gazette on 24th December 1858 but it is not known where it as awarded.


Private James Kenny

53rd Regiment of Foot - Indian Mutiny

On 16th November 1857, Kenny took part in the same action as Lieutenant Kirke-Ffrench above and volunteered to bring up ammunition to his company under a very severe cross-fire.  He was also awarded the medal following a ballot of the officers and men of his regiment. The medal was confirmed in the London Gazette on 24th December 1858 but it is not known where it as awarded.


Sergeant-Major Charles Pye

53rd Regiment of Foot - Indian Mutiny

On 17th November 1857, after fighting in the action at Sikander Bagh, Pye was part of a group of 60 men of the regiment under Captain Hopkins, who were supporting  a company of the 90th Foot in storming the Mess House at Lucknow. This was a large building, surrounded by a loop-holed mud wall, with a 12ft ditch traversed by drawbridges.  Pye was also awarded the medal following a ballot of the officers and men of his regiment. The medal was confirmed in the London Gazette on 24th December 1858 but it is not known where it as awarded.

 

Private Harold Whitfield

10th (Shropshire & Cheshire Yeomanry) Battalion KSLI - Burj-el-Lisaneh, Palestine

On 9th March 1918, as part of the battle of Tel Asur,  the battalion was ordered to seize the hill of Birj-el-Lisaneh. Attacking Turkish defences soon after midnight, they took the position but were subjected to fierce counter-attacks and 3 hours of severe fighting. As the Turks were about to turn the left flank of the British position, Whitfield single-handedly attacked a Turkish machine-gun post. Killing the entire crew, he turned the gun on the advancing Turks and drove them back. He then led grenade attacks against another machine-gun position and destroyed it, holding it until reinforced. The medal was confirmed in the London Gazette on 8th May 1918 and was awarded by King George V in a public investiture in Leeds in May 1918.

 

Sergeant George Eardley

4th (Territorial) Battalion KSLI - Overloon, Holland

On 15th October 1944, during an attack on a wooded area east of Overloon, strong opposition was met from well-sited defensive positions in orchards. The enemy were paratroopers and well equipped with machine guns. A platoon from the battalion was ordered to clear the orchards but was halted 80 yards from its objective by heavy enemy machine gun fire. Eardley spotted one machine gun post and moved forward firing his Sten gun, killing the occupants of the post with a grenade. A second machine gun post immediately opened fire and Eardley charged over 30 yards of open ground to kill the enemy gunners. The attack was continued by the Platoon but was again held up by a third machine gun post. A section sent to get rid of it was beaten back, losing four casualties. Eardley ordered the section he was with to lie down and then crawled forward alone to kill the occupants of the post with a grenade. The medal was confirmed in the London Gazette on 2nd January 1945 and was awarded by King George VI in a public investiture at Buckingham Palace in 1945. Eardley was also awarded the Military Medal for an earlier action.

 

Private James Stokes

2nd Battalion KSLI - Kervenheim, Germany

On 1st March 1945, the battalion was fighting to take the strongly defended town of Kervenheim, with Y Company on the left and Z Company leading on the right. Rapid progress was made on the left but, on the right, there was heavy opposition from defended farms and buildings in the town. Stokes was a member of the leading section of 17th Platoon in Z Company. Stokes was the bodyguard of the Platoon Commander Lieutenant Banks and they soon came under intense rifle and machine gun fire from a farm building. The Platoon was pinned down but Stokes rushed forward and entered the building. The firing stopped and Stokes reappeared with 12 German prisoners. The Platoon continued to its next objective and Stokes went with them. Although he had been wounded, he refused an order to go back to the Regimental Aid Post. As it approached its next objective, the Platoon came under heavy fire from a house and again Stokes rushed forward. He was seen fall to the ground, shot through the chest, but seconds later was on his feet again and rushed forward under intense enemy fire. He entered the building, at which point the firing ceased, and re-emerged with another 5 prisoners. His Platoon then approached its final objective, a cluster of farm buildings forming another enemy strongpoint. Again on his own initiative, Stokes dashed forward, though severely wounded and suffering from loss of blood. He struggled through 40 yards of intense fire but fell 20 yards from the building. He continued firing and waved to his comrades on as they rushed past him. It was later found that he had been wounded 8 times and he died of his wounds shortly afterwards. The medal was confirmed in the London Gazette on 17th April 1945 and was awarded postumously by King George VI in a public investiture at Buckingham Palace in 1945.

 

Military Cross

Awarded to  commissioned officers of the rank of Captain or below and Warrant Officers for an act of exemplary gallantry during active operations against the enemy on land. Since 1979 it can be awarded posthumously and since 1993 it can be awarded to other ranks.

 

Military Medal

Awarded to other ranks and commissioned officers below the rank of Captain for an act of exemplary gallantry during active operations against the enemy on land. It was discontinued In 1993 when the Military Cross could be awarded to personnel of all ranks. The following Military Medals have been awarded to members of a Shropshire regiment.

 

Corporal G Lane

6th Battalion KSLI - First World War

 

Private A Robinson

1st Battalion KSLI - First World War

 

Private F Spencer

1st Battalion KSLI - First World War

 

Private W Thomas

1st Battalion KSLI - First World War

 

Sergeant W Whitney

1st Battalion KSLI - First World War

 

Sgt George Eardley

4th (Territorial) Battalion KSLI - Le Beny Bocage, France

On 1st August 1944, the battalion took part in Operation Bluecoat to break out of the Normandy bridgehead.  During the capture of the village of Le Beny Bocage, the battalion ran into strong opposition and Eardley was part of a reconnaisance patrol to test the strength of the enemy positions. During this patrol, Eardley was ordered to move down a hedge and this meant that he was separated from the rest of his patrol. As he moved down the hedge, he came under intense fire from a concealed machine gun post at the end of the hedge at a range of 20 yards. He pretended that he had been hit and, while the rest of the patrol engaged the enemy’s attention, he threw 2 grenades at the post and killed the occupants with his Sten gun. The medal was confirmed in the London Gazette on 1st March 1945. Eardley was also awarded the Victoria Cross for a later action.

 

George Cross

Awarded to civilians, as well as members of the armed forces in actions for which purely military honours would not normally be granted, for acts of gallantry. The following George Cross has been awarded to a member of a Shropshire regiment.

 

Captain Richard Deedes

KSLI - Chittagong, India

On 7th January 1934, an attack was made by four Hindu youths on a group Europeans, including women and children, at the end of a cricket match. The terrorists were armed with one revolver and seven bombs, two of which were thrown. Both bombs failed to explode but one of the terrorists rushed towards the group of Europeans firing a revolver. Another terrorist ran down the slope towards the cricket ground and across the road where some cars were parked. Captain Deedes, seeing this man run away, dashed off in pursuit and was close behind the terrorist when the latter was tripped up by a chauffeur. Captain Deedes fell on the man and held him until assistance came. The terrorist was found to still have a bomb on his person when captured.

 

Sutlej Medal 1845-1846

760 medals were awarded to members of the 53rd Regiment of Foot for service in the Sutlej Campaign of the Sikh Wars. Two clasps were available for those who qualified :-

Ferozeshah - for a battle fought on 21-22nd December 1845 at the village of Ferozeshah in Punjab (760 recipients)

Aliwal - for a battle fought on 28th January 1846 at the village of Aliwal (708 recipients)

 

Punjab Medal 1848-1849

978 medals were awarded to members of the 53rd Regiment of Foot for service in the Punjab Campaign of the Sikh Wars. One clasp was available for those who qualified :-

Goojerat - for a battle fought on 21st February 1849 at Gujerat (611 recipients)

 

Egypt Medal 1882-1888

All members of the 53rd Regiment of Foot received the Egypt Medal for service in the Anglo-Egyptian War of 1882-88. One clasp was available for those who qualified :-

Suakin 1885 - for service in the Sudan between March – May 1885.

 

Khedive’s Star 1882-1889

The Khedive of Egypt awarded a bronze star to all members of the 53rd Regiment of Foot for service in the 1882 and 1884-86 Campaigns of the Anglo-Egyptian War.

 

Queen’s South Africa Medal 1899-1902

Members of the KSLI received the Queen’s South Africe Medal if they served in the Boer War in South Africa between 1899-1902. Three clasps were available for those who qualified :-

Paardeberg - for a battle on 17–26th February 1900 near Paardeberg Drift on the banks of the Modder River near Kimberley

Driefontein - for service on 10th March 1900 in General French's column which advanced from Popular Grove

Belfast - for service between 26-27th August 1900 east of Wonderfonein, west of Dalmanutha Station and north Carolina in the Transvaal

 

1914 Star

Members of the 1st Battalion KSLI received the 1914 Star if they served in Belgium and France between August-November 1914.

 

1914-15 Star

Members of the 1st, 2nd, 5th (Service), 6th (Service) and 7th (Service) Battalions KSLI received the 1914-15 Star if they served in Belgium and France between November 1914 - December 1915.

Members of the 2nd, 1/4th, 8th (Service) and 10th (Shropshire & Cheshire Yeomanry) Battalions KSLI received the 1914-15 Star if they served in other military theatres between August 1914 - December 1915.

 

British War Medal

Members of the 1st, 2nd, 1/4th, 5th (Service), 6th (Service), 7th (Service), 8th (Service) and 10th (Shropshire & Cheshire Yeomanry) Battalions KSLI received the British War Medal if they served abroad during the war.

 

Victory Medal

Members of the 1st, 2nd, 1/4th, 5th (Service), 6th (Service), 7th (Service), 8th (Service) and 10th (Shropshire & Cheshire Yeomanry) Battalions KSLI and civilian personnel received the Victory Medal if they served in a theatre of military operations between 1914-1918.

 

Territorial Force War Medal

Members of the 4th (Territorial) Battalion KSLI received the Territorial Force War Medal if they joined up before 30th September 1914 and served overseas between August 1914 - November 1918 but were not eligible for the 1914 or 1914-15 Stars.

 

Silver War Badge

Members of the KSLI who retired or were discharged during the war due to sickness or injuries sustained in the conflict received the Silver War Badge.

 

General Service Medal

Awarded for service in minor Army operations for which no separate medal existed.

 

Croix de Guerre

The French Croix de Guerre avec Palme was awarded to the 1/4th (Territorial) Battalion KSLI in recognition of their action at Bligny Hill. On 6th June 1918, the right flank of a British brigade was being seriously threatened by the progress of a heavy enemy attack. The battalion, which had been held in reserve, was called upon to counter-attack an important position from which their comrades had just been ejected. The battalion attacked the hill on which the enemy had established themselves, inflicting heavy losses on them and capturing an officer and 28 other ranks. Thanks to this, the line was completely restored. It was awarded by General Berthelot at Shrewsbury in June 1922, when it was attached to the battalion Colour. From then on, all ranks wore a cockade of the Croix de Guerre ribbon in their service dress caps and a small flash of the ribbon on their shoulders. After disbandment of the 4th KSLI in 1967, the tradition was continued by their Territorial Army successors, the 5th Light Infantry. After their disbandment in 1999, the flash continues to be worn by “E” company of the West Midlands Regiment (TA) based in Shrewsbury.

 

1939-45 Star

Members of the 1st, 2nd, 4th (Territorial) and 6th Battalions KSLI, 75th (Shropshire Yeomanry) Medium Regiment, 76th (Shropshire Yeomanry) Medium Regiment and 240th (Shropshire Royal Horse Artillery) (Howitzer) Medium Battery Royal Artillery received the 1939-45 Star if they spent 6 months in an operational command overseas between September 1939 - September1945. Any service curtailed by death, injury or capture also qualified, as did the award of a decoration or a mention in despatches.

 

France & Germany Star

Members of the 1st, 2nd, 4th (Territorial), 6th Battalions KSLI and 240th (Shropshire Royal Horse Artillery) (Howitzer) Medium Battery Royal Artillery received the France & Germany Star if they served in France, Belgium, Holland or Germany from June 1944 - May 1945.  

 

Africa Star

Members of the 75th (Shropshire Yeomanry) Medium Regiment, 76th (Shropshire Yeomanry) Medium Regiment and 240th (Shropshire Royal Horse Artillery) (Howitzer) Medium Battery Royal Artillery received the Africa Star if they served a minimum of one day in an operational area of North Africa between 1940 - 1943.

 

Italy Star

Members of the 75th (Shropshire Yeomanry) Medium Regiment, 76th (Shropshire Yeomanry) Medium Regiment and 240th (Shropshire Royal Horse Artillery) (Howitzer) Medium Battery Royal Artillery received the Italy Star if they served in Italy between 1943 -1945.

 

War Medal

Members of the 1st, 2nd, 4th (Territorial), 5th, 6th, 7th and 8th Battalions KSLI, 75th (Shropshire Yeomanry) Medium Regiment, 76th (Shropshire Yeomanry) Medium Regiment and 240th (Shropshire Royal Horse Artillery) (Howitzer) Medium Battery Royal Artillery received the War Medal if they served for at least 28 days between September 1939 - September 1945.

 

Defence Medal

Members of the 1st, 2nd, 4th (Territorial), 5th, 6th, 7th and 8th Battalions KSLI, 75th (Shropshire Yeomanry) Medium Regiment, 76th (Shropshire Yeomanry) Medium Regiment and 240th (Shropshire Royal Horse Artillery) (Howitzer) Medium Battery Royal Artillery received the Defence Medal if they served for 3 years in a non-operational area or 6 months service overseas in territories subject to air attack or otherwise closely threatened.

 

Korea Medal

Members of the 1st Battalion received the Korea Medal for at least one day's service in Korea or 28 days offshore during the Korean War.