These are the names given to the trio of commemorative medals issued to members of British and Empire forces who took part in the Great War. The medals themselves are not gallantry medals and as such have only a small momentary value. Many people will have a set of these medals in their families' possession and may wonder what their significance is and why they are known as "PIP, SQUEAK and WILFRED".
Pip, Squeak and Wilfred were characters in a comic strip which first appeared in the "DAILY MIRROR" newspaper on the 12th of May 1919. The author of the script was Bertram J. Lamb and the artist was Austin B. Payne. The naming of the characters in the strip is due to Payne's wartime batman who for unknown reasons was known as "Pip-Squeak"
Pip was a dog, Squeak a penguin and Wilfred who did not appear until later in the series was a rabbit. Pip and Squeak were portrayed as being Wilfred's parents and there was a supporting cast of and Russian bomb maker and his dog "Popski". Another jaded and elderly penguin known as "AUNTIE" made an appearance.
The comic strip was extremely popular and became a craze in the 20's. The issue of the medals coincided with the start of this craze and they soon became known as Pip, Squeak and Wilfred.
All three medals have the recipients name, service number and regiment or corps stamped in small block capitals on their edge or in the 1914 and 1914/15 Star upon the reverse. Army officers' medals did not include the regiment or corps.
1914 Star and 1914-15 Star.
Both medals took the form of a bronze star with a central scroll bearing either Aug - Nov 1914 or 1914 - 15. The 1914 Star was issued to members of the BEF (British Expeditionary Force) who had served in France and Belgium during the period 5th August 1914 and 22nd November 1914. The majority issued were to members of the Regular and Territorial Army but some naval personnel serving ashore were eligible as were a very small number of Australian and Canadian personnel. This medal became known as the "Mons Star" and some 378, 000 were issued.
In 1919 a bar was sanctioned for those who were under fire which was sewn onto the ribbon. This bar bore the qualifying dates for the award.
The 1914 - 15 Star is exactly the same pattern as the 1914 Star with the exception of the scroll which is different. It was issued to all who served in a theatre of war between 5th August 1914 and 31st December 1915 except for those eligible for the 1914 Star. It was issued to British and Empire Forces and to civilians attached to the forces. 2, 350, 000 were issued.
British War Medal 1914 - 1920
This medal takes the form of a solid silver medal with an image of a mounted figure of St George trampling the shield of the central powers with the dates 1914 and 1918 thereon. The reverse has the coinage head of George V.
The qualification for the award was service within the three armed services or within any Commonwealth or Imperial unit or within certain recognised voluntary organisations. No bars were issued and applied to all theatres of war and certain categories of service within England. The award is usually found with the Victory medal but was awarded singly. Some 6 million were issued in silver with 110, 000 issued in bronze to natives of various labour corps. The medals were also issued for service in Russia and for minesweeping operations.
Victory Medal 1914 - 1918
It was decided amongst the Allies that a common theme would be adopted and that each country would produce a medal to commemorate the Victory. This medal took various forms according to the country but a common item was the rainbow coloured ribbon. The British medal shows the winged victory on the front holding a palm branch with the words "The Great War for Civilisation" on the reverse.
The British medal was produced in bronze and was awarded to those who had received the 1914 or 1914-15 Star and to most of those who received the War Medal and could not be awarded alone. The main qualification was those having any service in a war theatre but various civilians in recognised voluntary organisations received the award.
Those mentioned in dispatches also wore a bronze oakleaf upon the ribbon. Those eligible were service personnel including Commonwealth and Imperial forces but included various civilians working in recognised voluntary organisations. Some 5,750,000 were issued.
Copyright © Steve Wilson, December,1996.
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