Friday, 31 May 2013

A Welcome and Some Pimpage

First, that most pleasant of duties: a welcome to Scott as a new follower.  I hope you find plenty of interest here.

Secondly, a little pimpage.
Best on luck to any who enter the draws.

James is also one of the Minds behind Bloggers for Charity.  No apologies for linking to it again...

Wednesday, 29 May 2013

Royals in Medals #11: Prince George, Duke of Kent

For Prince Edward, Duke of Kent (1935-) - click here

Prince George, Duke of Kent, Earl of St Andrews
and Baron Downpatrick 

Prince George Edward Alexander Edmund, Duke of Kent, was born on 20 December 1902 at York Cottage, Sandringham, the fourth son and fitfh child of King George V and Queen Mary (then the Prince and Princess of Wales).  He was therefore fifth in line of succession to the throne at the time of his birth.  He was educated privately and at the naval colleges at Osborne and Dartmouth.

Passing out of Darmouth as a Midshipman in 1921, he served in the Royal Navy until 1929 and was then attached to the Foreign Office and Home Office.  He accompanied his brother Edward on his tours of Canada (1927) and South America (1931).  In 1934 he undertook a tour of his own through Africa.  He was designated governor-general of Australia in 1938, but this appointment was cancelled due to the outbreak of war.

During the war he initially served in the naval intelligence section of the Admiralty with the rank of Captain (later promoted to Rear-Admiral), but wanting a more active role, transferred to the Royal Air Force where he took the rank of Group Captain (later Air Commodre)  in the Training Command.  Here he was involved in welfare and morale-raising, visiting many RAF establishments.  He also toured Canada and the USA during 1941.

On 25 August 1942, the Duke was en-route to visit RAF forces in Iceland when his Sunderland aircraft crashed at the Eagle's Rock, near Dunbeath in Caithness.  All 15 people on board were killed.  He was buried at Windsor.

Marriage and Family

The royal wedding November 1934

Prince George married Princess Marina, daughter of Prince Nicholas of Greece on 29 November 1934 - to mark this he had been created Duke of Kent, Earl of St Andrews and Baron Downpatrick.  (Princess Marina will have her own 'Royals in Medals' post.)

The couple had three children

The Kents photographed in 1934
by Dorothy Wilding
According to the Dictionary of National Biography, the marriage was a turning point in his life, 'strengthening his character and making his purpose in life more definite'.  Certainly, his lifestyle was less dissolute publicly, and his alleged drug used seems to have stopped; yet he appears to have continued to have affairs.  He is believed to have been bisexual, and those it is claimed he slept with are said to include Jessie Matthews, Barbara Cartland and Noël Coward. 

Orders, Decorations and Medals


Order of the Garter
Royal Knight (KG), 1923
Order of the Thistle
Extra Knight (KT) 1935

Order of St Michael and St George
Knight Grand Cross (GCVO), 1934

Royal Victorian Order
Knight Grand Cross (GCVO), 1924

Most Venerable Order of St John

Royal Victorian Chain

Campaign Medals

Prince George's next-of-kin could have applied for campaign medals to mark his service during World War II.  As his medals have never to the best of my knowledge been on display, it is impossible to know whether any medals were issued.  It is also unclear what they would have been.  The following entitlement is therefore my best guess.

1939-1945 Star

Defence Medal

War Medal 1939-1945

Commemorative Medals

 King George V Coronation Medal, 1911

GeorgeVSilverJubileum-ribbon.png   King George V Silver Jubilee Medal, 1935
File:GeorgeVICoronationRibbon.png King George VI Coronation Medal, 1937

Foreign Awards

Tuesday, 28 May 2013

Catching Up on My Subs

I've finally got around to renewing my subs to LSARS - the Life Saving Awards Research Society - a really interesting and friendly group of people.  Unfortunately, the last time my subs came up for renewal I was otherwise engaged (in the Acute Care Unit) and allowed my membership to lapse...

Sadly, for my Mysterious Project to work I have to spend more money and show that I belong to Respectable Bodies.  I'm therefore renewing my subs to the Society for Nautical Research (lapsed 2006) and the OMRS (lapsed way back in about 1987).  It's amazing how these subs add up.

Monday, 27 May 2013

Some Housekeeping and Bloggers for Charity

It seems that over the last couple of weeks I've attracted some public followers (anyone else thinks this is all a little cultish?).  I've been remiss in not welcoming you to the party, so here goes....  Welcome!

Before we play a little game of 'Pimp Your Blog!', I feel I should mention the old hands.  Special mention should go to the First Called, Mike Beedenbender; next came Michael Awdrey and JP  - those of you who read the 'comments' sections of posts will know that Michael and Jon make welcome and interesting contributions there.

The newer recruits are TasminP, Sean, Andrew Saunders and Christopher.  I hope you find things of interest here, despite the lack of focus on figures and wargaming.

I and know from the stats that there are others who follow, but prefer to hide their lights under bushels. I've used this picture before, but I like it and it says what I feel.

So, the blogs...
Andrew is also one of the Minds behind Bloggers For Charity.  

This is a collaborative project, bringing together wargamers and painters to raise money for Help for Heroes and Men Matter (a testicular cancer charity).  They aim to do this by running a large skirmish game and re-fighting the Battle of La Belle-Famille at Triples 2014.

The battle took place on 24 Jul 1759, along the Niagara River portage trail during the French and Indian War.  A French relief force for the besieged garrison at Fort Niagara fell into Eyre Massey's British and Iroquois ambush.  Originally a British victory, what will happen in May 2014?

For more details about the project, how to contribute and how to donate, go along to the Bloggers for Charity website.

Saturday, 25 May 2013

Books and Stuff

My regular round-up of book news.

What I've been reading this week...

I carried on with Loot, which I'm finding very interesting - I'd do a review of it next week as I'll have finished it then.

What I've bought this week...

Robert A Heinlein, Beyond this Horizon - £1.00

Kelly's Handbook to the Titled, Landed and Official Classes, 1962 - £6.50
Micheal Barthorp, War on the Nile:  Britain, Egypt and the Sudan, 1882-1898 - £1.00
Donald Featherstone, Victorian Colonial Warfare: India - £1.00
Donald Featherstone, Victorian Colonial Warfare: Africa - £1.00
G Bernard Hughes, English and Scottish Earthenware - £1.00
Sandy Petersen (et al), Call of Cthulhu: Fantasy rolepaying in the worlds of HP Lovecraft (4th edn) - £2.00
Colin Platt, The Abbeys and Priories of Medieval England - £2.99


I'm particularly pleased with this week's haul - especially War on the Nile, which I've been after for a while, and I've seen at silly prices.

Friday, 24 May 2013

Vacancy in the Order of the Thistle

Sir (William) Garth Morrison KT, CBE, DL

Sir (William) Garth Morrison KT, CBE died today.

A former Chief Scout and Lord Lieutenant for East Lothian, he was appointed a Knight of the Thistle in 2007. 

This death means there's a vacancy in the maximum roster of 16 members.

I'll blog further when obits are published.  It might even prompt a full blog on the order.

A Nice Day Out

Just a little of what I saw yesterday

Service in Egypt...
Yesterday, I did that most dangerous of things - meeting up with an on-line acquaintance!  Like many people, I've done this before and ended up having a dreadful time, running out of things to say after the first five minutes and finding out that we have very little in common.  Fortunately, that didn't happen this time.  It didn't hurt that we had a very meal in a country restaurant...

The guy in question is a fellow medal collector, who I've corresponded with for a couple of years but never met, despite only living about 15 miles away.  We'd spoken about it, we've dug diaries out and pencilled dates in, but we've never actually got around to it.  This week we finally got there.

We made the obligatory "isn't the market getting expensive!" comments, though Bill (not his real name) are one different ends of the funding-spectrum of our hobby.  Medal collectors will know what I'm talking about when I say that his solution is to move to the cheaper field of buying nurses medals...  

Despite that, we had a really good chat about things, helped by the fact that we have many interests in common in addition to medals.  It was one of the most pleasant days I've had for a long time.
Some eye-candy...

You know your in for a treat when your in the box-room of someone's house going through odd frames and you hear "and this is another GBE group..."

An earl who served as a deck-hand in the naval reserve

Comptroller to the Duke of Connaught

Assistant Personal Secretary to George VI and Elizabeth II
And even something for us naval types...

I got to handle the badge of a Companion of the Order of Indian Empire for the first time.  I was surprised to find how light it was - they are hollow.  Being made of 24ct gold and enamels, it's not surprising that they're so often damaged.  Despite that, I'm confirmed in my belief that the higher grades of the Order of the British Empire are more attractive.  We both agreed however, that nothing could touch the Order of the Star of India, designed by Prince Albert (who the tiara lovers among us know had a very good eye).  Even Bill doesn't have a KSCI!

CBE Badge
CIE Badge

CSI Badge

Help for Heroes

The Help For Heroes website temporarily crashed within hours of the Woolwich killing.

After yesterday's shocking events when Drummer Lee Rigby was identified as a solder after being spotted wearing a Help for Heroes tee-shirt near Woolwich Barracks, the Help for Heroes donations page has crashed due to the extra traffic. 

The Daily Telegraph has published a handy list of other ways to donate:-

  • Texting the word "HERO" to 70900 to give £5;
  • Logging on to a separate online giving site at
  • Posting cheques or postal orders, made payable to "Help for Heroes," to Help for Heroes, Donations, 14 Parkers Close, Downton, Salisbury, SP5 3RB;
  • Calling the donations team on 01725 514130. Out of hours you can leave a message and someone from the team will call you back;
  • Emailing and leaving your contact details. 
Co-incidently, I was going to post about a project fellow bloggers have just started raising money for charities including Help for Heroes.  I shall do that soon.

On a lighter note, also coming soon...  an entry about the very enjoyable day I've had today; RNLI gallantry medals; cheese-rolling; and the revival of the Dead Bishops page...

Tuesday, 21 May 2013

A Victoria Cross Presentation

L/Cpl James Ashworth VC, Grenadier Guards

One of the rarest military occasions happened today: the presentation of a Victoria Cross, something that has only happened only 14 times since the end of the Second World War.  Sadly, like eight of those 14, this was a posthumous award.
Kerry Ashworth with her surviving son,
L/Cpl Coran Ashworth, also a Grenadier

Kerry Ashworth was given the medal awarded to her son L/Cpl James Ashworth of 1st Bn, Grenadier Guards, by the Queen in an investiture at Buckingham Palace. 

Ashcroft of Kettering, joined the army in 2006, aged 17, and followed his father and elder brother into the Grenadier Guards.  He was on his second tour of Afghanistan when he performed the acts which led to his death and him earning Britain's highest honour.

The citation for L/Cpl Ashworth's award was given in a supplement to the London Gazette published on 22 March of this year.  It bears reading in full:
On the 13th June 2012 the conspicuous gallantry under fire of Lance Corporal Ashworth, a section second-in-command in 1st Battalion Grenadier Guards Reconnaissance Platoon, galvanised his platoon at a pivotal moment and led to the rout of a determined enemy grouping in the Nahr-e-Saraj District of Helmand Province.

The two aircraft inserting the Reconnaissance Platoon on an operation to neutralise a dangerous insurgent sniper team, were hit by enemy fire as they came into land.  Unflustered, Ashworth - a young and inexperienced non-commissioned officer - raced 300 metres with his fire-team into the heart of the insurgent dominated village. Whilst two insurgents were killed and two sniper rifles recovered in the initial assault, an Afghan Local Police follow-up attack stalled when a patrolman was shot and killed by a fleeing enemy. Called forward to press-on with the attack, Ashworth insisted on moving to the front of his fire team to lead the pursuit. Approaching the entrance to a compound from which enemy machine gun fire raged, he stepped over the body of the dead patrolman, threw a grenade and surged forward. Breaking into the compound Ashworth quickly drove the insurgent back and into an out-building from where he now launched his tenacious last stand.

The village was now being pressed on a number of fronts by insurgents desperate to relieve their prized sniper team.  The platoon needed to detain or kill the final sniper, who had been pinned down by the lead fire team, and extract as quickly as possible. Ashworth realised that the stalemate needed to be broken, and broken quickly. He identified a low wall that ran parallel to the front of the outbuilding from which the insurgent was firing.  Although only knee high, he judged that it would provide him with just enough cover to get sufficiently close to the insurgent to accurately post his final grenade. As he started to crawl behind the wall and towards the enemy, a fierce fire fight broke out just above his prostrate body. Undaunted by the extraordinary danger - a significant portion of his route was covered from view but not from fire - Ashworth grimly continued his painstaking advance. After three minutes of slow crawling under exceptionally fierce automatic fire he had edged forward fifteen metres and was now within five metres of the insurgent’s position. Desperate to ensure that he succeeded in accurately landing the grenade, he then deliberately crawled out from cover into the full view of the enemy to get a better angle for the throw. By now enemy rounds were tearing up the ground mere centimetres from his body, and yet he did not shrink back. Then, as he was about to throw the grenade he was hit by enemy fire and died at the scene. Ashworth’s conspicuous
gallantry galvanised his platoon to complete the clearance of the compound.

Despite the ferocity of the insurgent’s resistance, Ashworth refused to be beaten. His total disregard for his own safety in ensuring that the last grenade was posted accurately was the gallant last action of a soldier who had willingly placed himself in the line of fire on numerous occasions earlier in the attack. This supremely courageous and inspiring action deserves the highest recognition.

Ashworth is one of only two men to earn the (British) VC during the present Afghanistan conflict: the other was Cpl Bryan Budd of 3rd Bn, Parachute Regt, in 2006.

Sunday, 19 May 2013

Down the Well with the Black Dog

I've occasionally used this blog to talk about my mental health problems, though of late I've tried to avoid too much personal info.

Things for me are fine at the moment, but reading the post from the Laughing Ferret about his own recent problems has struck a chord.  I don't think I would be as brave or articulate as he is, but much of what he says chimes with my own experience.

I hope he won't mind if I quote:
Knowing that some regard a depression sinking as a character flaw, or as not real, or as whining, only makes it even harder to deal with in trying to get out of it.  It takes more stress points. It is easy to say "my leg was broken, but it's healed now" but "I was in a depression black hole, but I'm out now" has a whole host of added burden applied to it by the culture.  It is a lot like a broken leg.  Saying it is broken isn't whining, it isn't a plea for attention, it's just pointing out the fact.  It is nice to have someone give condolences, it can be appreciated, but where no one would think that saying 'I hope your leg gets better' would actually help it get better, people do seem to think saying "I hope you feel better" should have an affect on someone who's depressed. Wish it were so, but it isn't.  That helps someone who is sad, but not someone who is depressed. The two states are very different. Which I don't think is understood by a lot of people, since many people use the phrase "I feel depressed" when they don't-what they feel is sadness, which is bad, but it isn't the same as depression.   But knowing well-wishers often have an expectation that their well wishes will help, it becomes almost an extra burden for the depressed person (at least I have found it so for me) and so makes it less likely to draw attention to the problem, to avoid the additional weight. Not that it isn't appreciated abstractly, just that it can't help at that time.

Pimping the Wargaming Girl

I've spoken before about the generous custom among wargamers of having great milestone giveaways on their blogs.  Well, the Wargaming Girl is celebrating 100,000 visits with no less than five days of prizes.

Here they are:-

Day 1

Day 2

Day 3

Day 4

Day 5

Saturday, 18 May 2013

This Week's Interesting Obits

Capt Mike Barrow CVO, DSO, RN (d. 28 Apr 2013).
Captain of HMS Glamorgan during the Falklands War.
Daily Telegraph, 15 May 2013

Joe Farman (d. 11 May 2013).  Scientist who discovered the hole in the ozone layer.
Daily Telegraph, 13 May 2013

Guardian, 16 May 2013

Geza Vermes (d. 8 May 2013).  Biblical scholar.
Daily Telegraph, 13 May 2013
Guardian, 14 May 2013

Books and Stuff

A regular round-up of my book news.

What I've been reading this week...

I finished Parting Shots.  An interesting book, giving the candid views of diplomats on leaving their posts. As such it demonstrates the attitudes of the writers' times, from colonial arrogance to post-imperial angst, and the shifting focus of British foreign policy.  I think more than a few potential readers might be misled by Matthew Paris' reputation and the illustration on the cover - thinking that this will be a collection of comic extracts. It's not, so be aware! It's not heavy reading, but it's far from light!

So I started  Russell Chamberlin Loot: The heritage of plunder.

What I've bought this week...

Christine Kelly, Mrs Duberly's War: Journal and letters from the Crimea - £1.99
Stephen Taylor, Storm and Conquest: The battle for the Indian Ocean, 1809 - £1.99

Henry Cecil, Brothers in Law - £1.45

Thursday, 16 May 2013

Back Into the Archive World

...But just as a punter.

I've been off-line for a couple of days as I've been down to the National Archives in Kew.

It's over 15 years since I've visited TNA (then the Public Record Office), and probably 30 since I used it as a customer.  But the trip went well. The main reason for going down was to help my sister trace some of her husband's ancestors, but I took the opportunity to call up some military records.

The main problem was the journey.   We ended up changing at Colchester and then getting a train that seemed to stop everywhere in Essex before getting to Stratford.  Then there were the trials of traveling across London from Stratford (the site of the 2012 Olympics) to Kew.  On the way back, in order to get a reasonably-priced ticket, we had to wait until 19:26 before we could catch a train back.  All very tiresome... 

There was the initial hassle of registration (despite me reading from the list on their website, my sister hadn't brought the required forms of id), but we were soon off  Not having a reading ticket, Liz wasn't able to come into the reading room and consult original documents, but there was plenty for her to do with the surrogates and I took photos of the rest.

I managed to consult the war diary for my grandfather's unit in the Third Afghanistan War...

...and some odds and ends for fellow medal collectors...

As well as the the records of an ancestor who took part in the 1811 invasion of Java and all sorts of naval relatives (which included the discovery that one took part in the Sydney-Emden engagement).

All in all a fruitful day and I'll be back.

Sunday, 12 May 2013

This Week's Interesting Obits

Happily, it's been quite a while since I updated my obits page.  However, this week the special-effects guru Ray Harryhausen and the biblical scholar Geza Vermes both died. 

Harryhausen's obits are below.  There were none for Vermes (though I see that there'll be one in tomorrow's Daily Telegraph), so I'll catch up with him next weekend.


Ray Harryhausen (d. 7 May 2013).  Special-effects pioneer.
Daily Telegraph, 8 May 2013
Guardian, 8 May 2013
Independent, 8 May 2013

Friday, 10 May 2013

Books and Stuff

Another round-up of my book news.

What I've been reading this week...

I carried on with Parting Shots.

What I've bought...

Christopher Andrew, The Defence of the Realm: The authorised history of MI5 - £1.50
Hugh Lewis Nevill, Campaigns on the North-West Frontier - £6.00
Jayne Neville, The Polytunnel Companion - 30p
Anne C Petty, Dragons of Fantasy: The scaly villains and heros of Tolkien, Rowling, McCaffrey, Pratchett and other fantasy greats! - 30p

Boris Akunin, Pelagia and the Red Rooster - 30p

I was also lucky enough to win a free copy of John le Carre's latest book, A Delicate Truth, in a give-away on


Monday, 6 May 2013


Sorry there's not been more posts this week.   The weather has just been too good, and I've been having a blitz on the garden.

I've even managed to get half the fence painted....

I'll get back to business once it starts raining again (due Weds/Thurs) or if I get the shed done as well.
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