Militia long service medal

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Militia Long Service Medal


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This article by Stuart Elliott was first published in the 1996 Annual Bulletin of La Société Jersiaise


Medals as a reward for long service and good conduct in respect of the regular armed forces had existed since 1830, but the volunteer, yeomanry and militia forces throughout the United Kingdom and Colonies had to be satisfied with providing their own form of award on the retirement of any well-respected veteran of the unit.

Silver and parchments

Not only would the cost of any such award generally be raised from contributions from members of the unit but its form varied a great deal from items of domestic silver, suitably engraved, to parchments and even medals produced by a local silversmith to a one-off design. Jersey was no exception with examples of the above being produced during the 18th and 19th centuries.

An example of one of the medals mentioned appears in the catalogue of the Loan Exhibition in aid of the British Red Cross Society held at Victoria College from 24 to 29 April 1916. The medal is engraved on the reverse "St Helier's Regiment. From the Corps of Officers to Tho. Darthenay for Long and Meritorious Services 1801” The obverse depicts an attractively engraved Jersey Arms resting on a trophy of arms. The award is oval, 8 x 5.2cm, made in silver but not hallmarked, and has a functional ring/loop indicating that it was intended to be worn suspended from a ribbon, cord or chain. Without doubt other examples were awarded from time to time.

In 1894 the first official move to recognise the services of the volunteer movement took place with the institution of a silver medal to be known as the Volunteer Force Long Service and Good Conduct Medal, the basic qualifications being 20 years service in the volunteer forces of Britain, India and the Colonies.

This did not, however, include the militia forces, who were treated as a separate entity. It takes little imagination to appreciate the ill feeling among members of the militias who saw no reason why the volunteers should have been singled out for what amounted to special distinction in their favour.

The militia movement in the United Kingdom towards the latter part of the 19th century had undergone a number of reorganisations, but there was a general feeling that its value as a viable military force had diminished over the years and further changes were to take place in an attempt to rectify the matter.

Concerning the question of recognition for long service with the militia, the situation was resolved eventually, possibly due to pressure being brought by many of the more denior militia officers who possessed influence in the corridors of power and, additionally, to encourage recruitment and pride in their units.

The Militia Long Service and Good Conduct Medal was instituted in December 1904, to be awarded to non-commissioned officers and men of the militia who had served for 18 years, not necessarily without a break, and had attended at least 15 annual training camps.

Obverse, Edward VII issue 1904-1910

Army orders

The Army Order which authorised the award went into some detail concerning the requirements to be met for eligibility. For example, the recipient's character had to have been irreproachable and his service efficient throughout the qualifying period. Service with the Regular Forces would not be allowed to count towards this medal but all other service with any Auxiliary Forces, including Colonial, would be allowed, provided the last five years had been served with the unit in which the application had been made. Also the continuity of service must not have been broken for periods of more than 12 months, apart from service within the Regular Forces which was not to be included.

Members of the Militia who met the stated condition had their names submitted by the commanding officer of their regiment to the Lieut-Governor who would in turn forward the details to the War Office with his recommendation, this being done on a quarterly basis. The recipients selected then had their names published in the Army Order authorising their award, the medal being forwarded on a short while afterwards for presentation locally.

It is interesting to note that, when the medal was initially instituted, no mention was made of the Channel Islands militias being eligible for the award, though the first awards to them were made in September 1905, including four to the Jersey Militia.

Whether this was an initial oversight or intentional is not known. A clue, however, may lie in a local newspaper report in March 1906, in connection with the presentation of medals to local militia men by the Lieut-Governor, Major-General Hugh Sutlej Gough, CB, CMG, where it states:

It is an open secret that HE is anxious that services rendered by our militiamen should not pass unnoticed, and has made strenuous efforts to secure for the deserving the medal which, under recent Army Orders is awarded to the English Militia but which, through the tact and perseverance of Jersey's General Officer Commanding, has been extended to the Channel Islands militia - little wonder therefore that the Jersey Militia are loud in their praise of their Commander-¬in-Chief.

The tone of this contemporary report would certainly seem to indicate that the Channel Islands were not included initially in the qualification for this medal and were there only with pressure from persons of influence, such as the then Lieut-Governor. One possible reason for this may have been the fact that, unlike the English Militia which consisted of 'volunteers', the Channel Islands Militias were conscripted under the Militia Law - in any event the medal was formally extended to the local Militias in February, 1906.

Medal details

The design of the new Militia Long Service Medal was in itself a break from tradition in the selection of an oval-shaped silver medal as opposed to the more traditional circular type. The oval medal has remained in use today in the form of the Territorial Efficiency Medal, a long service award for volunteers with the land forces.

Initially, the obverse of the medal featured the effigy of King Edward VII with the legend "Edwardvs VII Rex Imperator" in capital letters. From 1911 this was replaced by the effigy of King George V with the legend "Georgivs V.Britt.Omn:Rex et Ind.Imp" The reverse remained unchanged through both reigns with the simple inscription "Militia for long service and good conduct". The whole was suspended from a 1.25 inch wide pale blue ribbon via a circular swivel suspender providing the medal with a simple but attractive appearance.

Each medal was named on its rim in impressed sans-serif capitals including the recipient's number, rank, initials, surname and regiment: ie "612 c Sergt C S Renouf 3/RM of the I of Jersey"

It would appear that the medals were presented in velvet-lined black leatherette fitted cases, the surviving example to Colour Sergeant C S Renouf having the qualifying years of service '1884-1907' inscribed in gilt on the hinged lid.

The obverse of the medal was from a design by G W de Saulles, a prolific medal designer of this period, whose work included the Boer War and Africa General Service medals amongst others. Details of the individual awards to the Royal Militia Island of Jersey are given below.

The 1906 medal presentation ceremony in the Royal Square

Medal presentations

As would be expected, an 'occasion' was made out of the presentation of the Militia Long Service Medals to local men, the first medals, so The Evening Post reported, being presented to five recipients at the Sunday Church Parade on 1 October 1905.

Several hundred militiamen marched to the Royal Square after assembling at the Town Arsenal, their mixture of scarlet and blue uniforms making what must have been an impressive sight. The weather was described as fine but threatening clouds developed into rain by the end of the ceremony.

Having drawn into their Regimetal Order, at 10.50 am they marched off to Saint James' Church watched by a large number of the public. The Lieut-Governor, Sir Hugh Gough, was present and hymns sung included "Onward Christian soldiers" and "Fight the good fight”. At the end of the service the troops marched back to the Royal Square, the Paid Police being in attendance to help with the crowds, and it was stated that every window was filled with onlookers.

Sir Hugh Gough arrived in the Square by carriage at 12.40 pm and, following a short ceremony during which he stated he was sure each recipient would value the medal as much as a war medal, he pinned the coveted award on each recipient's uniform and shook hands. This was followed by a cheer raised by all those present. There were approximately seven such medal parades on similar lines when the local militiamen received their Long Service Medals.

The last Medal to be presented, and the only medal during the reign of King George V, was to Sergeant Trumpeter P J Duvey, A Battery, Royal Jersey Artillery, on 6 September, 1915.

On this occasion the ceremony took place at Saint Mary's Arsenal, with a full parade of the battery and a large number of spectators. The medal was pinned to his uniform by Colonel J W Aubin, who related that throughout his service, the recipient had been attached to that battery showing a splendid example to his comrades by his soldierly bearing. He had 22 years service to his credit, including 19 years on the active list. Perhaps not quite the social event of earlier awards, but it should be remembered that there was a war on at the time.

The Militia Law

The conditions under which the members of the Royal Jersey Militia served to qualify for the Long Service Medal dated back to the Militia Law of 1881, which defined the organisation of the Militia and which, subsequently, was amended in February, 1903.

To look at the basics of these laws will help to bring the conditions under which the men served into perspective, and throw a little light on what was required of the militiaman in Jersey over the period in question. It was substantially different from the United Kingdom service which was, on the whole, voluntary.

The 1903 Law stated that any male residing in Jersey aged 16 to 45 years (16 to 60 years prior to 1903) being a native, son of a native, or a British subject possessing property in Jersey in his own or his wife's name, or carrying on a profession, trade or calling, was liable for obligatory service.

Defaulters could be prosecuted in the local Courts and fined a maximum of £1. This no doubt came as a surprise to many persons from the mainland setting up a business in the Island. Militia service was itself split into three divisions:

  • Preparatory Service.
  • Active Militia.
  • Reserve.
Reverse, 1904-1930

Preparatory service

This section concerned the training of recruits prior to being incorporated into the ranks of a Regiment.

'Lads' were those aged 16 to 20 years who were instructed in drill, and any lad who had attained the age 18 years could be allowed to transfer to the Active Militia if his physical fitness and knowledge of drill so qualified him.

'Recruits' were aged 18 to 35 years and were also instructed in drill and other military matters and were transferred to the Active Militia as soon as they were deemed fit. The amount of compulsory drills was restricted to not more than 40 each year and took place at the relevant Arsenal after 5 pm.

Reserve

All members of the reserve were liable to attend annual training and were divided into: *1st Reserve. Aged up to 35 years, required to complete four days musketry training in uniform. 2nd Reserve. Aged up to 35 years but required to complete only two days musketry training in uniform.

Active militia

The Island was required to maintain an active militia of 1,800 all ranks, exclusive of officers, the period of service for individuals not exceeding ten years. All NCOs and men on completion of their active service commitment transferred to the reserve until attaining the age of 45 years (60 years prior to 1903).

Annual training was one of the most important parts of service in the active militia and a minimum quota of 1,000 men was required to undergo training on nine consecutive days in annual camp, followed by eight non-consecutive days training for gun and rifle practice, field days or reviews.

Training in camps was carried out in four divisions during different periods of the year in an attempt to reduce the inconvenience caused to both men and employers. All volunteers for the camps were given preference but, if insufficient came forward, the rest were chosen by ballot to make up the required number.

During camp all militiamen received pay and rations at a cost to the States. As a special concession, if the complement of 1,800 was met, any men who had previously attended at least six camps could be allowed to pass into reserve.

Those among the 1,800 who for some reason did not attend the camp were required to complete 13 days training, consecutive or otherwise, followed by eight days training for rifle, gun practice, reviews, etc, and including night training. Thus no one escaped some form of training during the course of a year. In any event, any member of the Militia could be called out at any time in the case of an emergency.

Obverse, George V issue 1911-1930

Exemptions

A large number of persons were exempt from their obligation to the Militia, some examples being the Bailiff, Jurats, various Church ministers, persons in Government service, professors, masters of Victoria College, States-subsidised schools, States employees, including Agents of the Impot, pilots, harbourmasters, hospital employees, Saint Helier Paid Police, employees of the Jersey Railways and certain medical men, although these could be required to serve as Militia Medical Officers if necessary.

Temporary exemptions could be obtained in respect of sickness, etc, for limited periods and, if a militiaman was convicted by the Royal Court resulting in imprisonment with hard labour, he would be considered unworthy to fulfil his duty, though this may be considered a somewhat drastic way in which to avoid Militia service.

As stated earlier, the militia in the United Kingdom had undergone a number of reorganisations over the years in an attempt to make it more efficient and useful; these changes also reached the local Militia when the infantry was reduced from five to three regiments in the 1880s. It is of interest to note the way in which, by 1903, the Island was divided into Military Districts in that it illustrates the geographical manner in which the Island Regiments were formed:- It is interesting to note, also, that officially the Militia organisation was described as two Regiments, one artillery and one infantry, but in reality the Military Districts previously described were treated as separate regiments, as will be seen by the naming on the Militia Long Service Medals and reference to the local newspaper almanacs of the period.

The year 1904 when the Militia Long Service Medal was introduced was by coincidence the same year that the Norfolk Commission, appointed to enquire into the state of the militia and volunteers nationally, published their report which came to the conclusion that the militia, in the United Kingdom at least, was unfit to take the field in defence of the country.

Territorial force

In 1905 Richard Haldane took over as Secretary of State for War, with his own ideas for the creation of a new territorial force and, combined with the Norfolk Commission's report, the fate of the militia was sealed. The options offered to the serving members of the militia were considered unacceptable and thus the militia as it had existed for over 150 years in the United Kingdom came to an end on 1 April 1908, when the Territorial and Reserve Forces Act, 1907, came into force.

Because of Jersey's unique constitutional position, these events had little effect on the local Militia, which continued to function and exist in the same manner as the Colonial Militias in Malta and Bermuda. It took events of a greater nature to change the system locally. The Active Militia was mobilised with the opening shots of the Great War on 29 July 1914. This must have come as a great shock to many.

Various members were dispatched to allotted war posts around the Island and so commenced a long period of what amounted to sentry duty and coast watching. The reserve militia was mobilised on 4 August 1914, in order to ease the commitments of those already serving. In order not to interfere with the normal state of affairs, only those needed to fulfil military duties were retained, others being allowed to return to work, but to retain their uniforms and weapons.

  • 1st Western District: St Ouen, St Mary, St John, St Lawrence, St Brelade, St Peter
  • 2nd Eastern District: St Martin, Trinity, St Saviour, Saint Clement, Grouville
  • 3rd Southern District: Saint Helier

In addition approximately three hundred militiamen volunteered to serve overseas with the 7th Battalion the Royal Irish Rifles.

Trumpet Sergeant Philip John Duvey Royal Jersey Artillery

Garrison units

This system continued through the War until the Militia Law was repealed on 6 February 1917, the Militia ceasing to exist from 23 February for the duration of the War. In their place the 110th Company Royal Garrison Artillery and Royal Garrison Battalion were raised locally as temporary regular forces to garrison the Island, the majority having previous service with the Militia.

It is beyond the intended scope of this article to go into detail concerning the military organisation at this time, but it should be realised that, with the repeal of the Militia Law, no one continued to qualify for the Militia Long Service Medal until the Militia was reformed at the end of the War. Indeed, though the medal remained available until 1930, no further awards were made to the Royal Jersey Militia. A few awards, however, were made to the Royal Guernsey Militia, the last one in 1930.

A contemporary breakdown of the Militia forces, both active and reserve, on mobilisation in 1914 is given below and, if anything, proves that the system provided the forces intended under the Militia Law for the defence of the Island, and reveals that the system, even if generally unpopular, fulfilled the Island's defence requirements enabling a body of men to be recruited, trained and made available for service when required. By taking the burden of defence the Militia released regular troops for service abroad at a critical time.

Compulsory service

It takes little imagination to appreciate that compulsory militia service did not appeal to all, especially in the country parishes where the prime concerns were the farms and crops, which relied upon manpower, automation not being available to the same degree as today.

In the 1880s an Anti-Compulsory Militia League was formed by persons who pointed out that some farmers were unwilling to employ local people who were liable to militia service whilst the French workers had no such obligation. Such arguments however failed to alter the system.

It is interesting to note that of the 37 Militia Long Service Medals awarded locally, 28 were to the 3rd Regiment (Saint Helier) with only three to the 2nd Regiment (Eastern District), none to the 1st (Western District), the balance of six going to the Artillery. A clearer statement could not be made that, once their obligations as far as militia service went were completed, there was little interest, especially in the country parishes, in continuing to attend the annual camps.

Conclusion

The purpose of this article was to introduce the Militia Long Service Medal in its relation to the Jersey Militia, so little being known about this award locally. A total of 36 Edward VII and one George V types was awarded to the local Militia, which is in reality a small number of awards. It must be remembered that, after almost 90 years or so, some must have fallen foul of the melting pot and others may have been lost or dispersed out of the Island for various reasons. In any event the numbers that have survived must be small - to date the whereabouts of only six medals are known, though others no doubt remain in private hands.

The total number of this medal issued is not great - 1,587 Edward VII and 141 George V medals for all the United Kingdom, Channel Islands, Malta and Bermuda militias for the period 1904-1930. Though scarce, they are not unduly expensive when compared with other medals, ranging with a medium-priced Victorian Campaign medal.

They do, however, form a unique part of the Island's numismatic history and are a reminder of a period when the Island had a military commitment involving a large number of Islanders. Those times were not without controversy; a situation with some similarities to today's in relation to the local territorial army unit and public opinion.

The medal presentations were always watched by a large crowd

Recipients of the Militia Long Service and Good Conduct Medal, 1904-1930

Name Number Rank Regiment Army Order
Ahearne, M 783 Drummer 3rd 2/1906
Ahier, C 702 Colour Sgt 2nd 11/1907
Bisson, E P 1465 Sergeant 3rd 2/1908
Bisson, H C 1238 Drummer 3rd 2/1907
Blampied, W A 847 Colour Sgt 3rd 2/1909
Cabot, P P 2619 Colour Sgt 3rd 2/1907
Cawley, F 835 Private 3rd 2/1909
Davey, C 430 Colour Sgt 3rd 2/1906
De Faye, T L 799 Trumpet SgtMajor 3rd 9/1905
Drieu, A 920 Private 3rd 2/1909
Duvey, P 1021 Sgt Trumpeter RJA 8/1915
Ellett, J W 673 Sergeant 3rd 2/1907
Filleul, C 786 Corporal 3rd 2/1909
Filleul, W 903 Sergeant 3rd 2/1909
Gaudin, P C 321 Sgt Trumpeter RJA 9/1905
Hotton, P 67 Driver RJA 9/1905
Jeune, T J 763 Colour Sgt 3rd 2/1907
Kitcher, W 999 Private 3rd 2/1909
Langler, F 158 Sergeant 3rd 2/1907
Le Breton, A 983 Corporal 3rd 2/1909
Le Cocq, F B 687 Colour Sergeant 3rd 2/1906
Le Couteur, T J 840 Colour Sergeant 3rd 2/1907
Lee, W 1017 Private 3rd 2/1909
Le Huquet, W 968 Private 3rd 2/1909
Le Marquand, W 1520 Driver RJA 5/1909
Le Noir, W 936 Private 3rd 2/1909
Le Riche,J 1029 Private 3rd 2/1909
Lyte, T O 58 Private 3rd 2/1907
McKee, A W 2608 Sergeant 3rd 2/1908
Marett, E 700 Sergeant 2nd 11/1907
Marett, W T 701 Colour Sgt 2nd 11/1907
Moses, E 951 Private 3rd 2/1909
Renouf, C S 612 Colour Sgt 3rd 2/1907
Simon, C 1030 Sergeant 3rd 2/1909
Sinnatt, G L 328 Company Sgt Major RJA 9/1905
Sonnen,M 751 Private 3rd 2/1907
Syvret, P 666 Driver RJA 9/1905

The effective strength of the Royal Militia Island of Jersey on its mobilization July 1914

Active militia Active militia Reserves Total
Officers Other ranks Other ranks
Artillery Staff 2 2
A Battery (Field Artillery) 4 78 60 142
B Battery (Field Artillery) 3 73 59 135
C Company (Heavy Battery) 3 68 79 150
D Company (Coast Defence) 2 62 68 132
Engineer Company 1 118 54 173
1st West Battn Light Infantry 12 385 406 803
2nd or East Battn Light Infantry 13 349 334 696
3rd or South Battn Light Infantry 15 547 395 957
Medical Corps 5 85 28 118
Totals 60 1,765 1,483 3,308
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