As I was working through one of the registers in my Royal Signals honours and awards project, I came across an anomaly. The obituary in The Wire for Major General A. C. Fuller CBE—the inventor of the Fullerphone—records that he was mentioned in despatches four times and that he did not receive the Victory Medal. These statements are at odds—if he did not serve in a theatre of war he could not have been mentioned in despatches. There are some exceptions to that statement, but Experimental Officers at the Signals Experimental Establishment were not amongst them. A little more digging revealed that these were ‘class ‘B’ mentions’ for ‘valuable services in connection with the war’. I was unable to track them down easily, however, and this post is the result of my research into where such awards may be found.
An extract from War Office List of 23 March 1919 showing Scottish officers; the full list was not published in The Times. (The Courier, 23 August 1919.)
Meritorious service by military personnel and civilians at home was recognised largely only in the latter years of the war, primarily by the various grades of the Order of the British Empire, created in June 1917. In addition, a lower category of commendation, the equivalent in broad terms of a mention in despatches, was made available for those who were brought to the notice of the Secretary of State for War or Home Secretary. They are often referred to as ‘class ‘B’ mentions’. Most were for service in the United Kingdom, but some awards were made for service in the Dominions and Colonies.
Although the War Office, Air Ministry and Home Office lists, or communiqués, were described as supplements to the London Gazette, they did not appear in the Gazette but were instead provided to the Press for publication. Extracts may be found in regional newspapers, often highlighting the work of local recipients, but The Times became seen as the ‘official’ avenue of publication because it featured the full lists. The first communiqué appeared in February 1917 and the last in May 1920. Similar lists were announced by the Admiralty, although they do not appear to have been published by The Times in the same way.
Several lists were not published in The Times—for example, a list of Army officers dated 23 August 1919 may be found in part only as extracts in some regional newspapers.
In early 1920 a bronze spray of oak leaves was authorised for wear by those who had been mentioned in despatches (to be worn on the Victory Medal and retrospective to the beginning of the war), but no such emblem was authorised for class ‘B’ mentions. They were recorded, however, in the service records of military personnel.
An extract from the service record of 924 (Acting) Company Quartermaster Sergeant George Dennis Ruggles, who was rewarded for his service with the Household Brigade Officer Cadet Battalion at Bushey in Hertfordshire.
Below are details of each of the lists—the date of the communiqué, the categories of those rewarded for their service, the ‘citation’ as published in The Times (which may differ in minor ways from that of the communiqué) and the details of when the list appeared in The Times. There are two good sources for the relevant pages of The Times, both require subscription: The Times archive and Fold3. Regional newspapers may be searched on sites such as The British Newspaper Archive.
War Office List—24 February 1917.
British Army Officers and Other Ranks, and Army Officers and Other Ranks in the Dominions and Colonies.
The names of the following have been brought to the notice of the Secretary of State for War for valuable services rendered in connection with the war.
The Times, 26 February 1917, p 12, continued p 13. British Army Officers.
The Times, 27 February 1917, p 11. British Army Other Ranks, and Army Officers and Other Ranks in the Dominions and Colonies.
War Office List—3 March 1917. Continue reading