Seeking a respectful parity of the events associated with one particular Platoon in a single Service Battalion must always be seen in the context of the wider hostilities. Equally, the recognition of Honours for other men helps perceptions of narrower events.
Many Officers of 17th Battalion received gallantry honours along with some of the men and NCOs in A Company. In comparison with the profiles of fatalities, it has been comforting to see the background of some of the men that were honoured for their bravery. John Hartley‘s book refers to ordinary men undertaking extraordinary acts. The Honours are presented in (assumed) date order. This helps interpret the honours alongside the chronology of events found on other pages of this site.
These men provide significant – although not necessarily exceptional – examples of events that are thankfully remote from most of our lives a century later. Apart from the Victoria Cross, no medals for valour were awarded posthumously. From the events shown in the history of the Battalion, there seems to be a number of examples of men, who may have been recognised, if medals could have been awarded after their demise. For further examples of Manchester Regiment honours, campaign and commemorative medals, please see Museum of the Manchester Regiment | The Men Behind the Medals
The D.S.O. was originally instituted as an award for officers of the British Army and Commonwealth Forces, usually at the rank of Major. It could be awarded for an act of meritorious or distinguished service in wartime and usually when under fire or in the presence of the enemy. Between 1914 and 1916 the D.S.O. was also awarded to some Staff officers when they were not under fire or in contact with the enemy. From 1st January 1917 it was restricted to recommendations for individuals who were in the presence of the enemy. The award was generally given to an officer in command, but some were awarded to junior officers below the rank of Captain.
Almost 9,000 D.S.O.s were awarded during the First World War. On 23rd August 1916 a Warrant enabled a recipient to be awarded a Bar for an additional award of the D.S.O.
Instigated as a means of recognising acts of gallantry performed by ‘other ranks’, the Distinguished Conduct Medal was regarded as second only to the Victoria Cross in prestige.
With the medal 36mm in diameter attached to a 1.25 inch wide ribbon, a silver laurelled bar was awarded for subsequent acts of bravery. The front of the medal comprised the head of the reigning monarch; the reverse contained the legend ‘For Distinguished Conduct in the Field’.
First instituted in December 1914 as an award for gallantry or meritorious service for officers with the rank of Captain and below, and for Warrant Officers. In August 1916 it became possible to award a bar or bars to the MC, for repeated acts of gallantry. A rosette worn with the medal ribbon denoted the bar.
The Military Medal (MM) was awarded to warrant officers, non-commissioned officers and other ranks for gallantry in action against the enemy. It ranked below the Distinguished Conduct Medal.
Mentioned in Despatches
A soldier mentioned in despatches (MiD) is one whose name appears in an official report written by a superior officer and sent to the high command, in which is described the soldier’s gallant or meritorious action in the face of the enemy. These MiD are reported in the London Gazette, but difficult to identify by searches. This was the lowest Award for valour and provided an Oakleaf spray to be attached to the Victory Medal. Apart from the Victoria and George Cross, the award of MiD could be made postumously. MiD could also be awarded on multiple occasions – including Private P J Kennedy of 18th Battalion who will have received three oak leaf sprays.
Members of the 17th Battalion who went to France on 8th November 1915 were entitled to 1914-15 Star, Victory Medal,and British War Medal, known as Pip, Squeak and Wilfred. The men who joined later did not receive the Star. Private P J Kennedy (IWMP321) argued that further distinction was required for the men who took an active part in hostilities.
“There is no distinction being a made between a man who spent three comfortable years in Paris and a man who went through bitter fighting in the trenches. I, and others, campaigned after the war for clasps similar to those of the Boer War. About half a dozen would have been needed – Somme 1916, Passchendaele 1917, Arras, St. Quentin etc. However, they said it would cost too much. So, that is all we got – “bare-arsed” medals!”