Decoration ribbons

Decoration ribbons

Joined: September 29th, 2008, 8:28 pm

February 17th, 2010, 4:58 am #1

When one is portraying a WW1 'retread' serving again in WW2, but in a ground capacity (as he would generally be too old for aircrew), I have been informed that said individual might likely wear his WW1 Victory Ribbon on his uniform - in this case along with the Observers half wing he earned over the lines in the Great War.

My question is, would this be a pinned on, or sewn on, ribbon? If sewn, what would be the dimensions of the ribbon? If pinned, where would one go to get the correct bar? I already have a bit of the correct ribbon. Now, what to do... what to do?

Rob Laplander
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Joined: March 13th, 2006, 2:47 pm

February 17th, 2010, 9:43 am #2

If you are representing a Commonwealth soldier/sailor/airman who'd served in the Great War, it was impossible to be awarded just the Victory Medal on its own. It was always awarded with the British War Medal as well, and for those entitled to them, the 1914 or 1914/15 Star. In some cases (such as for soldiers who only served in India) it was possible to awarded only the BWM.

Otherwise, ribband bars take several forms. There are the pin on examples, usually made and sold ready-made from tailors, and there are home-made examples often permanently fixed. These are usually just a narrow rectangle (about 1cm wide or so and the length of the cobmined medal ribbands to be mounted) of buckram or some other stiff backing material with the ribband wrapped around and tightly stitched in place to the reverse where it won't be seen when this is then stitched onto the tunic. Originals of both styles in good condition can still be found very cheaply with a little looking on Ebay or dealers.
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Joined: February 28th, 2004, 3:00 pm

February 17th, 2010, 10:58 am #4

Rob

Certainly any ribbons previously earned would be worn, and there is always a specific order to them, with any gallantry awards first, then campaign medals, war medals (WW1 first then WW2 then post war) and finally any other odd ribbons such as coronation medals, and long service awards. If the recipient was awarded foreign medals, they would come last, as you view them left to right.

Ribbons on a tunic were generally in rows of four centrally above the pocket, so two would be central together, and five would be a row of four with the fifth above it (although you do sometimes see five in a row).

If you are portraying someone who fought in WW1 and continued through to WW2, you might want to also consider something like a 1935 Jubilee Medal or 1937 Coronation Medal, or perhaps a campaign medal like the India General Service Medal 1936 - 39, even if he had not yet got his WW2 'gongs'.
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Joined: September 29th, 2008, 8:28 pm

February 17th, 2010, 7:52 pm #5

Thank you for the information fellows. My man would have been a volunteer from the States in 1915 - served until the end, gaining his commission along the way, then being demobbed and back to the States after the end. In early '40, with the balloon gone up again, he heads back to England and calls in a few favors among old chums and gets back on a squadron, though in a ground support role. I would like to make sure I have everything correct for the 'glad rags'. Our man was no hero - he didn't down an astronomical number of Hun planes and thus weigh himself down with a plethora of 'gongs'. Instead, he was just a simple observer in an average squadron - just a P.B.O. As he did the required 90 hours over the lines and passed his tests, he well earned his 'flying arse-hole'. The VM and WM would just be what everyone of his ilk got (or so I gather). Thus he would have put them up once back in blue again.

By mid '41 he was squadron adjutant with No. 1 PRU, which actually flew a variety of aircraft. At 41 years old, he would have loved to have gotten in the fight, but was too old - had had his shot at combat long ago - and accepted his lot. Until, on December 27th, one of the Observers assigned to photograph the effects of a raid on Brest (at odd angles) from the nose of a modified Blenheim in the squadron fell too ill to go on the run at the last minute. (L.M.F. on the tarmac actually, but no one ever mentioned that sort of thing in those days.) It so happened that he was there at the time and, with engines of the plane already turning over, he saw his chance to finally "see the show" again and immediately stepped up, offering to pitch in and lend a hand. A quick trip - they'd be there, done, and back inside three hours or so...

Pilot to himself: "What could it hurt? He's been in far worse positions, knows the rudiments of the equipment and is in the right place at the right time. Besides, he's a corking fellow! Give him a chance to see his youth again - why not?"

Grabbing some of the sick man's gear then, he climbed in and a minute later was airborne. Over the hornet's nest of Brest however, as they slid in for the first photo run, flak grabbed at them furiously. The port engine was damaged and the pilot turned in a steep climb for all he was worth, putting distance between them and the fury of the target. More flak, followed by metallic sounds in the cockpit, which immediately filled with smoke. Started at the spped of events, he climbed back and saw the pilot had been quite obviously killed. The Blenheim then lurched to one side as another flak burst popped under the stricken craft, and he was slammed to one side of the cramped space. The Jerries obviously had the range good!

Damn it! He hadn't been shot down since 1918! He rode dead craft in three times in the last war - once with a dying pilot at the stick. It had been hair raising enough then, when he was much younger. How would it be now at over twice the age he had been then? He'd never had to take to a parachute before either. Wonder what it will be like? But there was little time to wonder, as flames crept into the cockpit. Time to go - the broken exit hatch skidding away into the slip stream as the Blenheim rolled over for its final death plunge with a dead pilot at the wheel. Then he was out - watching the plane curl away beneath him as he tumbled through space, one hand with a death grip on the 'D' ring and in his other - absurdly - his service hat, which he had grabbed from the floor of the observers compartment as he exited. Must have grabbed it out of habit, and he stared at it blankly.

But the ground was coming up alarmingly fast. With a snap he pulled the cord and the parachute billowed out above him and then all was startlingly silent as he and his hat sailed down peacefully and serenely. The December wind was cold - he had no Irvin, as the kid's jacket had not fitted him. therefore he had just buttoned up his battledress all the way and slipped on the gloves and helmet. He'd been warm enough in the plane, since the pilot had stayed lower for him. Decent fellow, that pilot. Looking down he saw where the Blenheim had nosed in; saw the flames and thought how warm they would be. Absurd thought - there was a dead man in there!

He saw several people down below in the distance staring up at him and running, but couldn't quite make out who they were as his glasses were still in his pocket. (He had been about to fish them out and put them on when they had been hit the first time.)He saw he was going to land out near the middle of a ploughed field and there seemed little chance at getting away if the runners were Germans. He hit the ground with a stunning thump, rolled some, and then sat for a moment getting his wits back. He was down, alive, and apparently unhurt. There were shouts in the distance.

Standing, he tried to get the parachute harness off, fumbled with the buckle for a while, but couldn't do it. Swearing, he yanked off the flying gloves and reached in his battledress trousers pocket with shaking hands for his jack-knife, which he used to slice through the harness (with no small effort)before dropping it to the ground. His hands were shaking tremendously, and he looked at them absently. The people running across the field were getting closer to him now, their shouting getting louder, and he looked up at their blurry images. Fishing out a cigarette, he lit it and then dug out his glasses.

Focus brought the image of helmets coming at him - still shouting. Several of them. And then there was a sweating German in a gray uniform open at the collar panting in front of him. He was red in the face, running toward fat and looked like an incredibly stupid type with his mouth hanging open and spittle in the corners turning white. The German was saying something, but was far too out of breath to make himslef understood clearly.

Another helmet had a rifle pointing at him now, motioning him to put his hands over his head as two more German uniforms came pounding up, followed at a discreet distance by three or four old looking French farmers. Everyone was panting heavily and for a crazy moment he though he might be able to outrun them, as they all seemed completely blown. then the thought came that one can't outrun a bullet, and the idea fizzled. Instead he bent down and picked up his service cap, planting it on his head, and took a long drag on the cigarette before he put his hands up half-heartedly. He noticed his hands weren't shaking anymore. Good show - never show the bastards any fear. Then the stupid looking German had gotten his wind back at was finally speaking intelligible words.

"Vor you, da var ist offer."

He looked hard at the German over the top rim of his glasses, took another solid drag on the cigarette hanging from his lips, and heartily uttered one exceptionally rude word.

But the stupid German was wrong: His war was just beginning...



Eh, something like that anyway.
Thanks guys.

Rob
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Joined: September 7th, 2008, 5:53 am

February 24th, 2010, 6:06 pm #6

was he wearing a seat pack or did he need to clip on the chest pack?
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Joined: September 29th, 2008, 8:28 pm

February 24th, 2010, 8:25 pm #7

I made it all up. What do you suggest?
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Joined: September 7th, 2008, 5:53 am

February 24th, 2010, 10:28 pm #8

that he clips the chestpack onto his observer harness and then jump.

I believe that the oldest chap to fly combat routinely was a Canadian Hurricane pilot in 1 Squadron RCAF during the BoB and he was 41 or so.

Cheers
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Joined: September 8th, 2004, 10:02 pm

February 25th, 2010, 5:43 am #9

Here's a jacket as picked up straight from the owner. The owner served in WW1, was a pilot and joined the RAFVR when WW2 started.
WW1 ribbons are sewn directly to the jacket. And a rather sloppy job too.
Unfortunately, I was a kid when I was given this and lost the name of the owner! :/
Note the different colour of rank stripes, suggesting a promotion to Flight Lieutenant.

<a href="http://s428.photobucket.com/albums/qq8/ ... FKDSD1.jpg" rel="nofollow"></a>
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Joined: September 7th, 2008, 5:53 am

February 25th, 2010, 9:15 am #10

Neil,

Can you tell me the height of the VR ?

Cheers,

theotherChris
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