With President Biden’s announcement to withdraw US troops from Afghanistan will bring to an end the longest engagement ever carried out by US forces. What started out as a war on global terrorism 20 years ago (post 9-11) and taken to the doorstep of the terrorists in Afghanistan and which subsequently led to the Iraq war and the removal of Saddam Hussein will end with the withdrawal of some 2500 personnel serving in the country along with their NATO allies and if this goes to plan will be completed by September to coincide with the 9-11 Anniversary. Joe Biden is the fourth President to be in office during this campaign and three previous Presidents at some point have either increased or decreased troop numbers dependent on the political situation in the country and Terrorist activity which would have included not only the Taliban but Al-Qaeda and ISIS in Syria and Iraq. There are now calls for President Biden to withdraw US troops from both Iraq with 2500 & Syria with 900. This past 20 years has cost a lot of lives and we should not forget the sacrifice and service given by these brave men and women. Let’s hope that sanity can prevail, and the withdrawal is peaceful allowing all those serving to return safely to their families.
Medals have been awarded for these campaigns including service medals for Afghanistan, Iraq and two for the global war on terrorism. More recently the Inherent Resolve CampaignMedal was established 30 March 2016 by President Barack Obama. Awarded to members of the US forces serving in Syria & Iraq the medal is awarded retroactively from 15 June 2014 to the present. For the same action, time period, or service, personnel cannot be entitled to the Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal. All military personnel must have been attached to a unit based in Iraq or Syria, flew missions over those countries or serve at sea for 30 days consecutive, or 60 days non-consecutive. Immediate qualification for the award is given to those service members engaged in combat and also those who were killed or wounded.
This example of the Inherent Resolve CampaignMedal has a maker’s mark S-38 for the Supply Store, Oxford, Alabama. It is a well-made medal with a good clear stamping which shows a dagger thrust into a scorpion. Although not in its official description this medal is awarded for those US personnel fighting ISIS. Ribbon colours based on the Ishtar Gate which was the eighth gate to the inner city of Babylon with centre stripes representing Sand.
Didn’t know anything about this until I saw a badge for sale on the internet for the 1st American eagle squadron of the home Guard in Britain. Authorised by a special order by King George VI the squadron was incorporated into the home guard September 1940 and comprised of US citizens living in Britain. There were approx 80 men and they were attached to the London HQ with Americans working for the US embassy and also press correspondents. Founded by General Wade H Hays (who I also believe subsequently founded the RAF Eagle squadron) felt that he couldn’t just sit by and do nothing whilst Britain was under attack and would have felt ashamed had the Americans living in Britain done nothing to help. This may also have been a positive response to US Ambassador Joe Kennedy and his opposition to US President Roosevelt’s policy of wanting to help Britain. A lot of the squadron members privately purchased their own weapons including Thompson SMG’s and were motorised as can be seen on a Pathe News report of Churchill inspecting the troops. The troops wore a cap badge similar to the US Army but the difference with this one and the normal army badge is the lack of the constellation above the eagle head.
(As a side note I am starting to collect US Insignia so will now include in my blog some of these as they are in effect awards. Onward and upward my friends).
What a strange last three months this has been what with the Lockdown and all its effects on our day to day life and not forgetting those who have lost their lives to this horrid disease that has become a plague of biblical magnitude around the world. We’ve had anniversaries come and go and although we were able to celebrate, it wasn’t quite the same as our “normal” everyday life would allow. We have all had to make sacrifices and some more than others. In the UK we have had a fantastic response from our health service and today at 5pm we shall salute these front line workers with a nationwide applause and rightly so. But it ain’t over yet and the threat of a second wave is very real plus the number of people now coming out of lockdown only to face the reality of losing their jobs due to businesses closing or empty order books.
We are not alone here in the UK and the effects of this pandemic are being felt across the World, so I say to all of you stay safe, hang on in there and keep the faith as one day all this will be bad dream.
As for the collecting, well things have been a bit slow to say the least and I do look forward to the day when I can travel to various militaria shows again and meet up with some old friends but as to when that will be….who knows?
On Friday 8th May 2020 we commemorated the 75th Anniversary of the end of the Second World War in Europe. We paid homage to those who served either in the Army, Navy and RAF or on the home front and especially those who didn’t return and who made the ultimate sacrifice with a two minute silence at 11am. We also remembered our Cousins from across the Atlantic. The airmen who flew with the Mighty Eighth Air Force and the Soldiers and Sailors who passed through this green and pleasant land onto the European mainland and an uncertain future. We shall not forget the Allied sacrifice that has allowed us to enjoy and somewhat take for granted a peaceful existence but which we are now facing a stern test ourselves.
Normally there would be parties and parades up and down the country but due to the situation we find ourselves in due to the Covid-19 pandemic most of us partied the day away at home. I did my usual thing and got out the bunting and flags including a couple of 48 star US flags and two original VE day British flags. Listened to a lot of Glenn Miller and Benny Goodman and my wife and I dressed up in 1940/50 civvies. But although we couldn’t go anywhere, along with our neighbours we enjoyed the day and the atmosphere it generated.
Hi everybody, I hope and pray you are all keeping safe during this period of uncertainty and managing to cope with your everyday requirements and for those of you working in the medical profession I salute you and for those of us self isolating all I can say is “keep the faith” as one day (hopefully soon) these times in our lives will be a distant memory. On a personal note I was ill with influenza (we’ll just call it that for now until any further testing can be carried out) and was out of action for 3 to 4 weeks. Not a good scenario to be in I can tell you but better now. During my illness I did a lot of soul searching and prayer which guided me through and helped turn the corner and got myself back to good health again. But you know one of the frustrating things with this pandemic is not being able to see my children or grandson (Whatsapp is wonderful) but also the lack of inter action with work colleagues and also being able to visit places, certain shops etc.
I had planned a number of visits to militaria & medal shows and also a visit to Madingley American Cemetery, near Cambridge England on May 8th as part of the 75th VE day celebrations. All gone down the pan i’m afraid but none the less we as in my wife and I will celebrate VE day at home with bunting and British and American flags flying high in gratitude to the Allies who fought for our freedom which at present is being somewhat “necessarily” tested. I have both 48 and 50 star flags I can fly and two original Union Jacks which were flown on May 8th 1945 in the village of Stretton on Fosse, Warwickshire at my wife’s Grandmothers House.
One of the original VE day flags flying next to the Stars & Stripes.
Here’s looking forward to celebrating in isolation and hopefully the great British weather will be kind to us. Stay safe everyone!
Some of us can remember the “Good Old Days” of 3 TV Channels (in the UK) and the film matinee’s on the weekend with a mixture of old black & white films and if you were able to afford it colour! There were a number of film stars from this time period of the sixties and seventies that come to mind, John Wayne, Burt Lancaster, Kirk Douglas to name a few but another film star from this period was Audie Murphy who unknown to me at the time was the most decorated US soldier of WW2. It wasn’t until I saw the film “To Hell and Back” that I realised what this guy had achieved and at such a young age. And the disbelief when I heard of the plane accident that claimed his life in 1971.
Born in Texas 1925 he enlisted in the Army in 1942 at the age of 17 (with the help of falsified documents, however even his date of birth may have been later than specified) and he joined Company B of the 15th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Infantry Division (Nicknamed the Marne Division or Rock of the Marne due to their combat actions during WW1) and saw his first action in Sicily. He took part in the Salerno landings in 1943 and missed the initial landings at Anzio due to malaria. He was soon promoted to platoon Sergeant and in March 1944 he was awarded a Bronze Star with V device for destroying an enemy tank. In May that year he was awarded his combat infantry badge and after Rome was liberated June 4th he stayed there throughout July.
He was soon in action again participating in “Operation Dragoon” the invasion of southern France 15th August 1944 where he received a Distinguished Service Cross after his platoon were attacked and he killed 6 enemy soldiers and captured 11 prisoners. A presidential Unit citation followed and a Purple Heart for wounds received following a mortar blast during combat and a Silver Star during operations in the Cleurie river valley. Awarded a 2nd Lieutenants battlefield commission 14th October he became a platoon leader and was hospitalised after being shot through the hip and received his 2nd Purple Heart with oak leaf cluster. He re-joined his platoon January 1945 in the Colmar region, Vosges Mountains. It was here that he was awarded his Medal of Honor for actions near the town of Holtzwihr when his platoon was attacked and a US M10 Tank destroyer was hit with the crew abandoning it. Murphy ordered his men to retreat and using his M1 carbine directed fire onto the advancing enemy. He then climbed onto the abandoned M10 and fired its 50 cal machine gun and during the next hour killed or wounded some 50 German soldiers. He suffered a leg wound and when he ran out of ammo rounded his men up and led them in an attack to repel the still advancing Germans. As well as Murphys Medal of Honor the 3rd Infantry Division received a Presidential Unit Citation for the action in the Colmar pocket.
3rd Infantry Division Patch.
Promoted to 1st Lieutenant and awarded a Legion of Merit he was removed from the front line February 1945 and sent to regimental HQ. Murphy was presented his Medal of Honor at Salzburg, Austria, 2nd June 1945 by Lieutenant General A.M. Patch, Commander of the 7th Army. After discharge from the Army in September 1945 he was transferred to the Officer Reserve Corp. For his actions in the European Theatre Audie Murphy was one of the most highly decorated combat soldiers and his awards also included the Distinguished Service Cross, 2 Silver and Bronze Stars, 3 Purple Hearts, Legion of Merit, Army Good Conduct, Campaign, EAME, Victory and Occupation medals. 2 Presidential Unit Citations. His Foreign awards were French Croix de Guerre and Legion of Honor and Belgian Croix de Guerre.
After the war he suffered from what was then known as battle fatigue, what we now call post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and spoke out about his own issues highlighting the problems of veterans returning from Korea and Vietnam. He campaigned for a better understanding of combat experiences and the emotional impact on war veterans with a view to better medical care. He was married twice, first to Wanda Hendrix 1949 to 1951 and then Pamela Archer 1951 to 1971 with whom he had 2 sons.
Audie Murphy became a film actor from 1948 to 1969 and appeared in more than 40 films including many westerns including the Civil war epic “The Red Badge of Courage” and the film “To Hell and Back” which was based on his own memoirs published in 1949. On 28th May 1971 Audie Murphy was killed in a plane crash in Virginia. Five other passengers including the pilot were also killed when the light aircraft he was aboard crashed during bad weather into Brush Mountain near Catawba, VA.
Audie Leon Murphy (20th June 1925 – 28th May 1971) was buried with full military honours at Arlington National Cemetery and his grave site is the second most visited after that of President John F Kennedy.
United States Army Congressional Medal of Honor.
You can read more about Audie Murphy at the official website:
On this Armistice day we do well to remember the service men of our respective countries who made the ultimate sacrifice but how many of us remember the sacrifices made by those Women who also served and answered the call of duty. In both the armed services and civilian duties women played a sometimes largely forgotten role on the home front and the war front. Army, Navy and Airforce had women serving whether it was driving vehicles, flying aircraft, working in the medical corp and these women played a vital role in the war effort.
On the home front as well, women went into the factories to work long hours filling the void left by fathers, brothers and sons who were called up to fight. In the United Kingdom women joined the land army to help with much needed food production due to food rationing.
Volunteer organisations also benefited from this new found patriotism of women prepared to answer the call. Red Cross services on both sides of the Atlantic swelling its numbers for those needing respite.
An American Red Cross guest ticket to admit one to the Barberini theatre, Rome circa 1945.
The ARC also served in Great Britain where they provided much needed support to military personnel. They were also attached to military hospitals to help care for the sick and wounded. Following the invasion of Normandy 1944, the ARC also crossed the channel to mainland Europe where they provided much needed support to the allied troops serving there.
What we shouldn’t lose sight of however is the women who made the ultimate sacrifice during the war with 543 killed whilst serving with the US military and 52 with the American Red Cross. The British also had female losses during the conflict with casualties in all services including civilian service.
During a recent trip to Holland & Germany we took time out to visit the “Netherlands American Cemetery” at Margraten, near Maastricht. 8301 service personnel lie buried here, I say personnel because some of the graves are to women who served in Europe never to return home to the United States.
Two of the graves I visited were to “1 LT Wilma P Vinsant , 806th Air evacuation squad, April 14 1945” & “Dorothy Jane Burge, American Red Cross, May 1 1945”.
In 1943 a medal was authorised for the Women’s Army Auxiliary Corp and awarded for service between July 20 1942 and August 31 1943 and to the Women’s Army Corp September 1 1943 to September 2 1945.
“Lest we forget ALL those that served and died for our freedom”
This unanswered question was asked by Lt Karl Timmerman, Commander of Company A, 27th Armoured Infantry Battalion when ordered to capture the Ludendorff Railway bridge at Remagen 7th March 1945. Timmerman had taken command after his commanding officer Lt Edwards had been killed and then his replacement Capt Krier had been wounded. His company consisted of Jeeps, half tracks, M8 armoured cars and M26 Pershing tanks. The battalion followed the route through the German villages of Adendorf, Arzdorf, Fritzdorf, Oeverich, Niederich and Birresdorf from Stadt Mechenheim until the final approach to Remagen. Most of these villages were driven through without incident with locals adorning their houses with white sheets but at Fritzdorf there was a road block which Timmerman out flanked and after an exchange of small arms fire the German defenders quickly surrendered. At Oeverich they were attacked with a Panzerfaust but the defenders were quickly subdued with a few rounds from the Pershings. In the village of Niederich they engaged a small group of German defenders who quickly surrendered but their officer was so enraged he pulled out his pistol and started to fire wildly at the American troops but fell down dead riddled with bullets.
Just short of Remagen, Timmerman stopped to question a family in their home when he heard shouting from the lead scout and when he turned the corner he could see the bridge was still intact. Unfortunately you can no longer see this as there are now tree’s blocking the view as I found out on a recent visit to Remagen where we followed the same route Lt Timmerman had taken.
Original picture shows US army in Remagen and the approach down to the Rhine and how it looks today.
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You can only begin to imagine what actually happened here when Timmerman lead his men across to capture the bridge intact and yes the Germans did try to blow it up and the fuse was destroyed by bombing so the explosives were lit manually only to fail to destroy the bridge as they were insufficient. There were MG positions on the east towers and by the railway entrance and in a partially submerged canal barge but these were soon dealt with. It helps having a few Pershing tanks available.
Views of the west towers today with only the west, east towers and some approaches left intact. These west towers are now a museum which has some artefacts but is dedicated to peace and friendship.
Major Scheller had been sent to blow the Bridge but even though this failed he escaped back to head quarters to report on the situation at Remagen only to face a court martial and was executed by firing squad. Within 24 hours of the bridges capture some 8,000 American troops had crossed the Rhine and a week later 25,000.
Hitler then ordered the bridge to be destroyed and this area became one of the most heavily defended against aircraft in the whole of the European theatre. But what the Germans couldn’t achieve, nature took its course. Weakened by attacks and the attempt to blow it up the bridge finally collapsed into the Rhine 17th March killing 25 American engineers.
Original picture taken from the left bank. Notice the railway line running parallel to the Rhine which is still there today.
East towers as they are today. The railway is still very active.
Pontoon bridges were erected north and south of the bridge to continue the push into Germany east of the river. Lt Timmerman received the Distinguished Service Cross for his actions in capturing the bridge intact. He’d also restored his family honour as his father had deserted during the first world war and this set the record straight. Timmerman was sent to Korea in 1950 but in 1951 he became ill and returned to the US and was diagnosed with cancer and died the same year.
East bank railway tunnel entrance then and now. There were machine gun positions stationed in front of the tunnel entrance. Today this tunnel is used for plays and concerts.
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Timmerman’s Distinguished Service Cross citation:
“For extraordinary heroism in action against the enemy 7 March, in Germany. Upon reaching the Ludendorff railroad bridge across the Rhine river, Second Lieutenant Timmerman, aware that the bridge had been prepared for demolition, and in the face of heavy machine gun, small arms, and direct 20mm gun fire, began a hazardous trip across the span. Although artillery shells and two explosions rocked the bridge, he continued his advance. Upon reaching the bridge towers on the far side he cleared them of snipers and demolition crews. Still braving intense machine gun and shell fire, he reached the eastern side of the river where he eliminated hostile snipers and gun crews from along the river bank and on the face of the bluff overlooking the river. By his outstanding heroism and unflinching valor, Second Lieutenant Timmerman contributed materially to the establishment of the first bridgehead across the Rhine river”.
Original pictures taken from “After the Battle” magazine No 16 1st published 1977. Published by Battle of Britain prints international ltd, London, England.
Post WW2 and with the occupation of Germany and Japan the United States issued occupation medals for both the Army (including Air Corp) and Navy (including USMC). A medal had also been issued for the AEF that occupied Germany or Austria Hungary post WW1. Interestingly the WW1 occupation medal wasn’t issued until 1941.
With the defeat of Nazi Germany the Allies asserted their authority over Germany and it was divided into 4 occupation zones for administration by the US, Britain, France and the Soviet Union. These 4 zones being agreed by the 4 allies at Yalta in February 1945. There followed a conference at Potsdam July to August 1945 whereby these zones were sanctioned. The Soviet Union zone was in the east including Berlin which was subdivided into allied and soviet zones. This soviet zone then became East Germany until reunification in 1990. The British zone was in the North west, the French the south west and the US between the French and soviet zones.
At least thirty consecutive days of military duty were required before being awarded the medal and dependent on which zone of occupation they served in a clasp was awarded with a “Germany” clasp or Japan if awarded for occupation service in the Asian Theatre. The Navy medal had a “Europe” or “Asia Clasp.
During the Berlin airlift in 1948 and 1949, if military personnel served 92 consecutive days the Berlin airlift device was authorised as a device to wear on the Army of Occupation Medal. The medal for humane action was also awarded for 120 days service during the airlift.
European Zones of Occupation:
• Germany May 9, 1945 to May 5, 1955
• Austria May 9, 1945 to July 27, 1955
• Italy May 9, 1945 to September 15, 1947
• West Berlin (May 9, 1945 to October 2, 1990
Asia zones of Occupation:
• Japan September 3, 1945 to April 27, 1952
• Korea September 3, 1945 to June 29, 1949
Army Medal of Occupation WW2 with Ludendorf Bridge on the obverse and Germany clasp. The reverse shows Mount Fuji and 1945. This medal is contractor manufactured possible Heckthorn or Medallic arts.
Navy Medal of occupation WW2 with figure of Neptune and Asia clasp and possible US mint manufacture. A Europe clasp was also available for the European theatre.
Ribbon with airlift device of a Douglas C54 Skymaster which was used during the Berlin Airlift along with various other aircraft including the C47 Skytrain.
Medal for Humane action awarded for 120 days consecutive service during the Berlin Airlift.
In June 1948 the Soviet Union closed all land routes in and out of Berlin in an effort to have the allies withdraw from the city. In response to this the allies launched Operation Vittles to create an air bridge from the West to supply West Berliners with food, water, medicine and fuel. For almost a year the aircraft involved in the air lift supplied over 2 million people with 2.3 million tonne of cargo involving an estimated 300,000 flights. The blockade ended on May 12th 1949 when it became clear to the Soviet Union that their policy of blockade had failed.
Post World War 2 agreements were formed between the allied nations and the Soviet Union to allow deployment of small numbers of military intelligence personnel in the occupied zones of post war Germany. These missions were deployed from 1946 until 1990. The primary function of these missions was to allow each occupying force to monitor each others activities and to improve relationships.
These missions also played an intelligence-gathering role and the teams although based in West Berlin started their mission tours from their mission houses in Potsdam (East German territory). These missions ended in 1990 just prior to German reunification.
The liaison missions were free to roam around East Germany except for designated restricted areas. Considered untouchable either by the law or military personnel a small number of team members were involved in accidents or so called incidents that resulted in injuries or death which gave rise to military and political tension. These tensions were however reduced by the unseen role of the missions which although was an intelligence role confirmed any preparations for offensive actions which in turn could be counter measured or prepared against.
In March 1985, Major Arthur D. Nicholson was shot by a Soviet Army Sergeant whilst on Liaison duty and the only U.S. MLM Officer to die in the course of duty, though other British and French tour personnel had died earlier. The mission (which was meant to be Nicholson’s last) was to photograph a Soviet tank storage building near Ludwigslust, 100 miles Northwest of Berlin. Nicholson stepped out of his vehicle and approached a building to photograph it when he was shot and fatally wounded. This led to a major diplomatic incident between the US and the Soviet Union. With claim and counter claim about the incident.
Shaef (Supreme Headquarters Allied Expeditionary Force) patch in post war blue background. I believe the WW2 versions as worn by Eisenhower had a black background.
Shaef with Berlin Attachment.
US Military Liaison Mission Potsdam patch with 48 star flag. (50 star flag is from 1960 onwards).
Resource: Wikipedia, History.com, The Call of Duty (John E Strandberg & Roger James Bender) & American war medals and decorations ( Evans E Kerrigan).
This information was previously posted on the Broadsword Military History Forum.
There are a fair number of awards and medals for combat bravery in the face of the enemy but the United States early on Identified a need to recognise acts of bravery in a noncombat situation and the Soldiers Medal was Instituted 1926 which was awarded to the US Army for heroism not involving actual combat. This award is valued very highly by its recipients. Its British equivalent being the George Medal. Obverse shows an Eagle with upraised wings on a scroll adorned either side by stars. Reverse has a shield with the initials US and sprays of Oak and Laurel under which a there is a plaque for the recipient’s name. The words “Soldiers Medal” adorn the edge and “For Valor” either side of the shield. Devices: 🍂 = Bronze Oak Leaf for subsequent award.
The first medal was awarded for saving the life of a boy from drowning in Coopers Lake near Fort McPherson, Georgia on 12 August 1926 to Warrant Officer J K Wilson and also to Pte Cleophas C. Burnett for rescuing two women from drowning in the Roosevelt Park swimming pool, San Antonio, Texas, on 14 August 1926.
Navy & Marine Corp Medal. Instituted 1942 being the equivalent of the Soldiers medal. Awarded for heroism involving risk to life but in non-combat situation. An octagonal shape with an Eagle adorning an anchor perched on a globe with the word Heroism underneath. The reverse is left blank for engraving recipient’s name. Awarded retrospectively from December 6th 1941. This medal was designed by Lt Commander McClelland Barclay, USNR. Before his design was accepted the well-known battle artist was reported missing in action off New Georgia Island. Devices: = Gold Star for subsequent award.
One of the more noted recipients was Lieutenant John F Kennedy (35th President of the United States) for extreme heroic conduct as Commanding Officer of Motor Torpedo Boat PT 109, awarded August 1st to 2nd 1943 for directing the rescue of his crew after MTB PT109 had sunk following a collision with the Japanese destroyer Amagiri near to the Solomon Islands in the Pacific Theatre of operations during WW2.
Coast Guard Medal. Authorised 1949 but designed and awarded 1958 for heroism not involving conflict with an armed enemy of the United States. Equivalent to the Soldiers medal. Octagonal with the United States Coast Guard emblem of a pair of cross anchors enclosed within a rope circle. The reverse is left blank for engraving recipient’s name. Devices: = Gold Star for subsequent award.
Former Korean War Veteran Boatswain Mate 1st class US Coast Guard, Edgar A. Culbertson was awarded the Coast Guard Medal for trying to rescue 3 teenagers from the North Pier break wall at Duluth, Minnesota during a storm April 30th 1967. Culbertson aged 31 lost his life in the rescue which also claimed the lives of the 3 teenage boys.
Airman’s Medal. Instituted 1960 for heroism involving risk to life but in a non-combat situation. Equivalent to the Soldiers medal. Medal has the figure of Hercules releasing a falcon. Reverse is that of a laurel leaf circle with the words “For Valor” and space to engrave the recipient’s name. Different from its counterparts, Navy and Marine Corp, Soldiers and Coast Guard Medal as it does not share the same octagonal shape so as not to confuse it with general service medals. Awarded from 1960. Devices: 🍂 = Bronze Oak Leaf for subsequent award.
US Air Force Pilot Adam Kinzinger received his Airman’s Medal in 2006 for disarming a man wielding a knife who had attacked a woman in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. (He is also a member of the US House of Representatives for Illinois).
Resource: “The Call of Duty” by Strandberg & Bender. “American War Medals & Decorations” by Evans E Kerrigan and valor.militarytimes.com