George W Studley.

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*Picture of George W Studley taken from his book “Regulation War Medals” published by G W Studley, Rochester, NY.

I have in  my collection of United States medals a pair of US Nicaraguan Campaign Medals 1912 one of which was possibly made or sold by George Studley of Avon N.Y.

George Studley (1893 – 1968) enlisted in the US Navy in 1909 and served in Cuba, Panama and China. He was discharged from the Navy in 1922 after re enlisting to serve in WW1.  After he left the Navy he became a Gold prospector, steeplejack, steel rigger and a coal miner. Whilst being a member of many veterans associations he saw that many of the ribbons worn by veterans were frayed and dirty and set about manufacturing his own ribbons and insignia. After securing permission from the Navy and Army Departments he was authorized to purchase ribbons. Realising the potential for his work amongst fellow veterans he began advertising his services and in April 1928 was authorized to sell his ribbons and insignia along with miniature medals but was not allowed to issue full size medals. His original source for medals were the US Mint, Bailey Banks and Biddle and K C Davidson of Philadelphia. He was also an author writing about Service Medals. His book “Regulation War Medals” is still sought after and he produced ribbon charts. He collected military medals and ribbons in what would eventually become one of the biggest collections in the world. During WW2 he built a business manufacturing medal Ribbons and even supplied General MacArthur with ribbon sets. Studley was given Congressional authorization in April 1928 to sell “articles of military insignia”. He could sell miniature federal US medals but technically not issue full size medals. Congress in 1923 had enacted a law prohibiting the unofficial manufacturing and sale of US medals and awards. One would assume that any medals George Studley manufactured would be those issued prior to 1923?

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1912 Nicaraguan Campaign Medal. L: USMC R: Navy.

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1912 Nicaraguan Campaign Medal Reverse, Navy & Marine Corp. Navy is possible US Mint re-issue and USMC is I believe Studley Manufactured due to variance in their likeness, weight, suspension ring and their planchett thickness.

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George Studley regularly attended medal shows to sell ribbons and medals. He was one of the founding members of the Orders & Medal Society of America and made ribbon sets for General Douglas MacArthur and furnished lapel pins for President Harry S Truman and Dwight D Eisenhower. Medals supplied by George Studley appear on the internet from time to time and are very collectible and command a high price. The original official medals for these early campaigns were issued numbered but replacements were un-numbered when issued to their recipients. There are no markings on these medals to prove they were made by Studley as is often the case. US Mint manufactured medals are usually thicker than say medals by Heckthorn for example but not as thick as these Nicaraguan Service Medals?

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Another possible candidate? Yangtze Service (1926 – 1932) with full wrap brooch and very thick un-numbered planchett.

Three more candidates, US Navy Spanish Campaign 1898, US Navy China Relief Expedition 1900 & US Navy Mexican Service Medal 1911-1917.

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All 3 with the “For Service” inscription straight instead of curved.

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Very thick planchett on all 3 medals.

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Haitian Campaign 1919-1920 with straight script “For Service”.

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Studley made ribbons and as you can see these are labelled as such, but I have absolutely no idea which service or campaign these were issued for?

Resources for this article were: Orders & Medal Society of America, themedalcollector.com and “The Call of Duty” by Strandberg & Bender.

Doing their bit.

With the recent remembrance services to honour those that served their respective countries and made the ultimate sacrifice we also remember the service men and women who returned home but we seem to sometimes overlook the part played by civilians in wartime. There has always been the necessity to support the armed forces engaged in major conflicts and these forces would never have been able to function correctly without the effort to supply, resupply and maintain the arms, vehicles, planes and ships required to continue any campaign. With “Total War” the whole country becomes engaged with “Doing their bit”!

Because of this involvement, should “Innocent” civilians employed in war production become legitimate targets? Difficult question and somewhat controversial I know but the bombing of factories engaged in war material production was prosecuted relentlessly during World War 2 on all sides. These civilians also served their country, so let us not forget the Grandparents, Fathers, Mothers, Aunties and Uncles who were employed in the manufacture of the necessary equipment required to support the armed forces.

The United States was seen as the “Arsenal of Democracy”,  a phrase used by President Franklin D Roosevelt as he rallied support in favour of supply of armaments to those countries fighting against the tyranny of National Socialism in Europe but after Pearl Harbor the US turned its industrial might to that of War production not only for lend lease but arms and equipment to supply its own armed forces. We tend to lose sight of the monumental effort not only by civilians but the industries themselves that changed production from everyday household items to weapons. IBM producers of tabulating equipment and more recently computer systems manufacturing the M1 Carbine. Car manufacturers in Detroit building armoured vehicles such as the Sherman Tank, over 49,000 by 1946. 12700 Boeing B17 Flying Fortress aircraft being produced at various plants throughout the country. Ford making B24 Consolidated Liberators at the Willow Run complex near Michigan. Liberty ships made specifically for transporting goods across the Atlantic under the control of the Merchant Navy, a civilian service.

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All this work from both civilian men and women should not be forgotten on both sides of the Atlantic, because without this monumental effort the allies would never have been able to gain the final victory in Europe and the Far East.

The Merchant Marine issued a number of service medals after WW2 and since then there have been established meritorious and service medals for civilians while serving alongside the Navy, Airforce and Army.

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Lest we forget….

 

The Great War for Civilisation.

On Sunday 11th November 2018 we commemorate 100 years since the cessation of hostilities between the Allied Forces and Imperial Germany on the European Western Front, Eastern Front and the Mediterranean.

The First World War or Great War would not officially end until the signing of the Versailles treaty in 1919 but not until the losses of all the countries involved including Great Britain, France, Germany (Austria-Hungary), Russia, Italy and of course the United States of America totalled somewhere near 18 Million.

Fighting alongside the British and French forces in Europe the American Expeditionary Force was commanded by General John J Pershing when the United States entered the war in April 1917. The AEF fought its main battles in 1918 at St Mihiel and the Meuse Argonne region. The AEF also fought alongside the Italian Army against Austro-Hungarian forces and sent an expeditionary force to Russia. There were 4 divisions in France by the end of 1917. 1st Division of regular army troops, the 2nd Division of regular army and United States Marines, the 26th National Guard Division and the 42nd “Rainbow Division of National Guard from nearly all the states in the U.S. By the end of 1918 there were 7 Divisions of the AEF numbering some 500,000 men under Pershing’s command of the 1st Army. U S casualties amounted to approx. 114,000 killed whilst serving in Europe.

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Allan Donald, Intelligence Squad, Battery D, 3rd Heavy Field Artillery. In 1918 the American Expeditionary Force numbered circa 2 million men at the time of the signing of the Armistice.

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WW1 Victory Medal with Aisne-Marne, St Mihiel, Meuse-Argonne, and Defensive Sector Bars attached. 4th Division of the American Expeditionary Force.

Awarded to those who served in the armed forces between the following dates, in the following locations:

6 April 1917 to 11 November 1918 for any military service.

12 November 1918, to 5 August 1919 for service in European Russia

23 November 1918, to 1 April 1920 for service with the American Expeditionary Force Siberia.

Army battle clasps awarded were for the Aisne, Aisne-Marne, Cambrai, Champagne-Marne, Lys, Meuse Argonne, Montdidier-Noyon, Oise-Aisne, St Mihiel, Somme-Defensive, Somme-Offensive, Vittorio-Veneto(Italy) and Ypres-Lys.

A clasp 23 November 1918, to 1 April 1920 for service with the American Expeditionary Force, Siberia.

“Defensive Sector” was also added for general defense not involved in a specific battle.

Clasps for the Navy include England, France, Italy, Russia, Siberia and the West Indies.

Reverse has all the allied nations who took part in the “Great War for Civilization”.

WW1 Commemorative medals awarded by the State of New York (No 31801) and the State of Connecticut (made by Robbins Co, Attleboro, Mass).

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Reverse of the US WW1 Victory Medal showing the other allied countries who served during the “Great War”. I’ve always wondered who came up with that title but I suppose until 1939 and the outbreak of a second Great War then you could call this war the First.

Over the years we in the UK have remembered our sacrifice of the young men from these shores who were killed not only in the first and second war but the conflicts since then. However this Armistice Day does mark the 100th Anniversary since the guns fell silent and its easy for us to forget the other allied sacrifices made by countries like the United States.

Lest We Forget…and God Bless America.

17 years ago on this day.

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Most of us can remember some momentous events in our lives and where we were on that day.  The death of Princess Diana, the shooting of John Lennon, even JFK but the most surreal event has to be 9-11. Seems almost unimaginable what happened in New York City that terrible day. I was at work in the UK and I remember the news on the radio saying that a plane had crashed into one of the twin towers and by the time I had turned on the TV the second plane had hit the other tower. My colleagues and I couldn’t believe what we were witnessing and I turned to them and said “better dig yourselves a shelter, cause I think we’re going to need one”!

Since then events have moved on and there followed the Afghanistan campaign and the Iraq war with the ever changing war on Terrorism. Other events have occurred in London, Paris and Berlin to name but a few. I always felt though that the 9-11 attack wasn’t only an attack on the United States but an attack on the free world and there were a lot of people from different nationalities killed that day all going about their business. There was also the attack on the Pentagon and not forgetting Flight 93 which crashed in Pennsylvania.

17 years seems to have gone by in an instant but the memory of that day will live on for ever in the history of the world or should that be free world?

Medals awarded to US service personnel for Afghanistan, Iraq and the Global War on Terrorism.

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Availability of good quality US Medals and Awards in the UK (or lack of).

I suppose its pretty obvious that living in the UK has its limitations when it comes down to being able to buy US medals. And lets be honest now, US medals are not as popular as UK medals on this side of the pond. There is access to the web where every once in a while (on a certain internet auction site) good quality US medals become available and I should know I’ve purchased a few good one’s in my time as a collector. But this isn’t the “norm” unless you look stateside where there is an abundance of the better quality medals available. Sometimes even with postage and import duties (should you get the red card through the door) they are cheaper to purchase from the US? Militaria and medal shows can sometimes throw up a good buy but that is few and far between with a lot of the UK medal shows concentrating on British and German awards. Price can also be a factor and I find it frustrating when I do see US medals with a crazy price for what is a restrike of a medal that can be purchased from the states for a lot less.

Obviously there is a bigger market in the US and this not only applies to medals but to most militaria, helmets, field gear, uniforms, patches and badges (badges! we don’t need no stinking badges….. actually…we do in our collections). The more popular available in the UK are the Army Airforce WW2 medals such as the Air Medal, Distinguished Flying Cross and the Purple Heart complete with ribbon, lapel pin and coffin box. No doubt some of these medals awarded to members of the RAF for their assistance during the war. You may also find a single award attached to a set of British medals only to find you need deep pockets to purchase.

I recently managed to find a set of 5 US Navy Korean war medals but I had to look quite hard to find them tucked away in a corner of a display cabinet at a local medal show. There is the exception to the rule with a couple of dealers who specialise in US medals and badges but not always the quality you desire only quantity or the price being an issue dependant on what you are happy to part with monetarily. I suppose we just have to grin and bear it and keep looking and be patient and hopefully we can come up trumps*.

Good hunting and here’s to finding the next addition to your collection.

Trumps*  is an old English meaning derived from the word triumph or to have a better outcome than expected or performance.

Its Quality that counts…

The one thing I look for when buying medals or anything else for that matter is the quality of the item. That’s fair to say of all things and its this quality that defines some medals more than others. Some of the US Awards and even general service medals are of a very high standard. The finish and overall appearance gives it that high end quality factor that can only been found in a medal where attention to detail and finish has been applied. These are some examples of what I consider to be some of the best Awards manufactured due to the high definition, finish and overall patina which set them apart from the rest.

 

 

 

Do Your Research…and I do mean it!

I’ve always said as a collector of anything that the time and effort you put into research will pay dividends. However there is the odd occasion where you can be caught out by misinformation especially on the internet. Now I’m not going to name names and all that but recently I saw a Medal of Honor for sale (in the UK) and realised that the vendor had made a mistake with the name of the manufacturer. I contacted a company in the USA that makes insignia and medals and they confirmed to me that they had never manufactured the Medal of Honor. Fine so far but I then happened upon an article that said the MoH was made from Gold @ 2.5 ounces. So armed with this information I passed this onto the vendor who thanked me for this and published this information as part of the selling point. The vendor pointed out that the value of the MoH would be £2000+ ($2648+) which seemed high to me as HLP were selling their MOH’s out the back door in 1995 at $75 a piece.  Much to my disbelief it seemed I’d made an monumental error in my research and I apologised profusely after more research to prove my mistake as I didn’t want to appear to have mislead the vendor on any information I may of supplied. Thankfully the vendor was okay with this and used the correct information I had supplied to add to his advert.

Now I’m very sensitive to criticism and my “Chimp” started to beat the crap out of me for making what appeared to be a stupid mistake on my part. On reflection though I realised that this wasn’t my fault but I should have checked further before passing on any information. Lesson learned! That is why we need to take our time when researching every avenue of information and question anything you feel may have a bearing on your investigations. I must admit it did make me feel a bit down hearted as I felt somewhat stupid about the whole saga but time and collecting moves on, so onto the next piece of research and information especially the Purple Heart as that’s my next page to add to my blog.

Onward and Upward folks and Happy 4th of July.

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Topical set of five.

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Recently attended a local medal fair and bought this set of five mounted medals to the US Navy for service in the Korean War. Very topical with what’s going on in the news.
Been after a set of these for some time so was well pleased these were available.
Left to right: China Service (Navy), Occupation Service (Navy with Asia Bar), Defense Medal (replaced ribbon?), Korean War service (with 3 battle stars) and United Nations Medal for Korea.  Unfortunately not named but nice to have especially with the UN medal attached. Both the China service and Navy Occupation service are US Mint manufactured.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA   Authorised August 1940 the China Service medal awarded for service during two periods July 7th 1937 to September 7th 1939 for service ashore in China and post war September 2nd 1945 to April 1st 1957 for service in China, Matsu Straits and Taiwan, a bronze star was added if service personnel qualified for both time periods.

navy The Navy Occupation service medal Authorised January 1948 for service in Germany 45-55, Austria 45-55, Italy 45-47, Berlin from 1945, Japan 45-52 and Korea from September 1945 to April 1952. Clasps for Europe and Asia can be added and there is different reverse for the Marine Corps.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA Awarded over three different periods (1950-1959, 1961- 1974 and from 1990 onwards) the National Defense service Medal was awarded to enlisted men and officers for active duty service.

korean Korean War Service Medal awarded for thirty consecutive days service from June 1950 to July 1954 (sixty days non consecutive service). Silver and bronze stars (all services), Arrowhead device (Army & USAF) and Marine Corp device (Navy) could also be added to the ribbon.

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United Nations Service Medal (Korea) Authorised 1951 and awarded to all services on behalf of United Nations Forces in Korea June 1950 to July 1954. Other countries were also awarded this medal including British and Commonwealth forces for service in Korea.

 

Lets hope that Donald and Kim keep up the good work so we don’t have to issue a second Korean war medal. Here’s to peace on the peninsula.

 

Memorial Day

DSC_0437 (3) - CopyHenri-Chapelle in Belgium.

On the last Monday in May the United States of America observes Memorial Day to remember all those who died whilst serving in the US Military on active service. First observed following the Civil War in 1868 this act of remembrance has similarities to the UK’s remembrance Sunday in November. Events are held all over the USA and throughout the World at various cemeteries and monuments to honour those who made the ultimate sacrifice in the service of the United States. I have visited several US military cemeteries over the years including Coleville-sur-mer in Normandy, France which overlooks Omaha Beach, Henri-Chapelle in Belgium and in the United Kingdom, Madingley American cemetery near Cambridge.

STA41219 - CopyColeville-sur-mer in Normandy, France.

These cemeteries and others like them are cared for by the American Battle Monuments Commission. Let us not forget those who laid down their lives so that we in this world can live a life of freedom which was paid for with a greater sacrifice than many of us alive today could ever begin to contemplate or understand.               

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Madingley American Cemetery, Cambridge, England.  

“Do not say my sons are dead; They only sleepest; They loved each other, stayed together; And with their comrades crossed together; To that great beyond; So weep not mothers; Your sons are happy and free….” Mrs J S Hoback, Mother of Bedford Hoback who was killed in Action Omaha beach June 6th and Raymond Hoback missing in Action June 6th (His body was never found). Bedford Hoback is buried in the Colville American cemetery with 10 other “Boys” from Bedford, Virginia amongst 9386 American dead from the Normandy campaign.*

*Poem by Mrs J S Hoback and information from the book “The Bedford Boys” Alex Kershaw, Simon & Schuster UK Ltd 2003

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Memorial Wall to the Missing In Action, Madingley American Cemetery, Cambridge, England.

A Real Life Green Beret.

Harvey Gordon Brande: Rank E7/US army Special Forces Company C Det A-101 5th Special Forces Group. DOB 13 Nov 1936, Long Beach Ca. Enlisted in the US Army August 1954 served with the 72nd & 44th tank Battalions and followed that with a tour to West Germany in the 370th Armoured Battalion. Joined the Special Forces circa 1964 and served in Okinawa and then returned to Fort Bragg and served as a Special Forces medical specialist before he deployed to Vietnam, South East Asia and joined 5th Special Forces Company C. Whilst Brande was taking part in Op Blackjack Twelve 6th April 1967 he and his men tried to rescue the crew of a crashed air controller aircraft and Brande entered the plane wreckage even though there was exploding ammo to search for survivors but there were none. For this action Brande was awarded the Soldiers Medal.

On 7th Feb 1968 Lang Vei Special Forces Camp was attacked by the NVA during the Tet Offensive and Harvey G Brande was taken prisoner after defending the camp and distinguishing himself in battle. For his actions that night Brande was awarded the Silver Star and was awarded a further Silver Star for escaping his captors for Seven Days with another POW Dennis Thompson only to be recaptured. Given MIA status and identified as a POW in 1969 Brande was released in March 1973 as part of Operation Homecoming. Brande returned to army life after a hospital stay to recover from his injuries and retired from the army February 1975.
Awards: Silver Star with bronze oak leaf, Soldiers Medal, Bronze Star with V for Valor & bronze oak leaf, Purple Heart with bronze oak leaf, Meritorious Service Medal, Air Medal, Army Commendation Medal, Prisoner of War Medal, Army Good Conduct Medal with bronze clasp, Defense Service Medal, Vietnam Service Medal with 2 silver & 2 bronze stars and the Vietnam Campaign Medal, plus a Vietnam Gallantry Cross Unit Citation. He also gained his Combat Infantry Badge and his Paratrooper Qualification Wings. Compared to the Hollywood version of a certain fictitious Green Beret, Brande had been there, done that, not a lot more you can say about him really.

DSC_0007This I believe is his original issued Soldiers Medal. Manufactured circa 1945 by the Robbins Co. Attleboro, Ma. Possibly in storage in a quartermasters store until awarded 1967. Hand engraved.
DSC_0008Established by an act of congress 2nd July 1926 the Soldiers Medal was awarded to any member of the United States Army who shows a degree of heroism not involving actual combat with the enemy. The medal is highly prized by its recipients and may also be awarded to foreign military whilst serving in any capacity with the US Army.

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*Master Sergeant E-8 Harvey Gordon Brande, Det A-101 Company C 5th Special Forces.

*(Picture of H G Brande from http://www.veterantributes.org)