The Medals of the Great War – The 1914 Star
Synonymous with any campaign are the medals they men who fought proudly wear on their chest. The medals of the Great War are varied and numerous (although not as numerous as the Second World War!). In my opinion the best thing about the medals of the Great War is the fact that almost all of them are inscribed with the name/rank/regiment of the recipient. This is a great source of ownership and pride to those who are safekeeping family medals, and also a great source of research opportunity for historians and collectors of military medals.
I have set up an area of the blog dedicated to medals, and over the coming weeks/months I will describe all of the campaign and military medals that were issued during the Great War, and give you some pointers as to the reasons why they were issued, approx numbers issued and anything else of interest I can dig up.
Let’s start with The 1914 Star, sometimes known as The Mons Star after the first big fight of the war.
- Date of Institution: 1917
- Campaign: France & Belgium 1914
- Branch of Service: British Forces
- Metal: Bronze
- Size: Height 50mm; max width 45mm
- Numbers issued: 365,622 stars were issued along with approx 155,000 bars.
Description: A crowned four-pointed star with crossed swords and a wreath of oak leaves, having the royal cypher at the foot and a central scroll inscribed AUG NOV 1914. Uniface, the naming being inscribed incuse on the plain reverse.
Clasps: 5th Aug.-22nd Nov. 1914. The clasp was sewn on to the ribbon of the medal. A silver rosette is worn on the ribbon strip if the bar was awarded.
Awarded to all those who had served in France and Belgium between 5th August and 22nd November 1914 . In 1919 King George V authorised a clasp bearing these dates for those who had actually been under fire during that period. The majority of the 365,622 recipients of the star were officers and men of the pre-war British Army, the ‘Old Contemptibles’ who landed in France soon after the outbreak of the War and who took part in the retreat from Mons, hence the popular nickname of ‘Mons Star’ by which this medal is often known. There were approximately 155,000 bars issued, as such this is the rarest campaign medal for the First World War.
Recipients of the 1914 Star were not eligable for the 1914-15 Star, but were eligable for the British War Medal and Victory Medal.
This is the rarest of the WW1 campaign medals and, not surprisingly the most expensive to buy. Single stars tend to start at around £60 but if you are after something more interesting (i.e. a star awarded to an officer, or someone killed in action) then the price could easily double. For 1914 Star trios you need to be prepared to spend at least £130 but these can go up significantly for recipients with ‘history’. With all WW1 medals the value of the medals is intrinsically linked to the story of the man who won them. If he died the value will be higher. If he was an officer the value will be higher than those of a lowly Private. If research shows he took part in many of the ‘famous’ battles the value will be higher. If he won a gallantry award the value will be higher. If he was in a rare regiment the value will be higer. If he was very young or very old the value will be higher. If he has a low service number the value will be higher….
A couple of things to watch out for with these stars are replacement bars – many bars were lost as they were not permanently fixed to the medal ribbon – and re-naming of the medals.