2016-12-19

Dec. 19. Which medal is which?


Lieutenant Philip Neame of the Royal Engineers won the Victoria Cross on this day in 1914 at Neuve Chapelle. In the face of very heavy fire, he engaged the Germans in a single-handed bombing attack. He was able to check the enemy advance for enough time "to rescue all the wounded men whom it was possible to move" (source: The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 29074. p. 1700. 16 February 1916). It is possible the bombs he used were the Engineers' own design of empty jam tins filled with loose metal. His medal ribbons provide a wonderful test of identification. For example, during the First World War, Neame won further awards: getting Mentioned in Dispatches (MiD, four times - the oak leaf spray on his Victory medal ribbon) and receiving the Distinguished Service Order; he was honoured by the French government with the Legion d'honneur (Croix de Chevalier) and the Croix de guerre, as well as the Belgian Croix de guerre. The Museum of Liverpool has an online interactive guide to many of these medals and their ribbons.
Philip Neame's Medal Ribbons
Neame's battledress from later in his career has been shared on Europeana 1914-1918 (with a license of CC-BY-SA) by the Royal Engineers Museum, Library and Archive. He had a similarly adventurous Second World War, and - according to Wikipedia - Neame remains the only Victoria Cross recipient who has won an Olympic Gold Medal (Paris 1924, for shooting). Lieutenant General Sir Philip Neame's VC and his other medals are at the Imperial War Museum, London.

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This post is part of our Advent calendar. New stories are published every day from Dec 1 until Christmas. 

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