Question of the Week: What's the highest military medal or civilian honor received by one of your ancestors?

+19 votes
917 views

Today many of us will be celebrating Armistice Day, Remembrance Day and Veterans Day.

What a great time for us to share stories about our ancestors who were honored for their bravery or achievements.

asked Nov 10 in The Tree House by Julie Ricketts G2G6 Pilot (203,280 points)
Great grandfather Hugh Fox served with the Royal Artillery 53th Brigade, served in the Indian Mutiny for which he received a Gold Medal.  He was born in 1832 in either Paisley or Glasgow.  Been trying to trace both the medal and any information on him.

 

Much further back on the maternal side, Sir Hector Maclean K.C.B.E. Royal Engineers.  Again not able to conclusively trace anything.

 

Any help would be appreciated.
My Great-Uncle Jimmie McCarthy was one of only two men killed on November 9, 1942, when their Liberty Ship, Edgar Allen Poe, was torpedoed by a Japanese submarine off the cost of New Claedonia, Noumea, New Zealand.  His body was never recovered.  He was  posthumously awarded the Mariner's Merit Medal.
My ancestor Thomas Davis (Davis-32839) won the Waterloo Medal. He fought at the Battle of Quatre-Bras, just before Waterloo, and was almost certainly wounded, as the percentage of soldiers lost of wounded was immense. If Quatre-Bras had been lost, so would have been Waterloo. It was for this that the Quatre-Bras veterans were also awarded the Waterloo Medal.

43 Answers

+8 votes
Robert Harrison Bolton was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross in World War II.  Bolton-2281.  I'm still trying to figure out how to add that as a tag to his profile but I can't find it.

To answer the question more, I have a bunch of generals as well from Rev War, War of 1812, and the Civil War (CSA).  Here is part of the bio on Robert Bolton.

(He) enlisted in the Army Air Corps in 1937 and became a medical corpsman stationed in Hawaii. Returned to Baltimore in November 1941 but after the attack at Pearl Harbor reenlisted. Awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross in 1943 (the highest flight decoration) for an extremely difficult mission over Italy and he attained the rank of captain. Then worked briefly for Capitol Airlines; coordinated troop transportation from Fort Meade.
answered Nov 10 by Gurney Thompson G2G6 Mach 1 (10,130 points)
[[Category: Distinguished Flying Cross (United States)]] should cover it, Gurney.
Thanks.  I could not find that category.  I have added it now.
+8 votes
Medal of Honor, Civil War - Erastus W. Jewett - (https://www.wikitree.com/wiki/Jewett-1953)
answered Nov 10 by Bob Jewett G2G6 Pilot (553,920 points)
+8 votes
Nothing high among the ancestors but we do have a Battle of Ava bar. It took so long to issue them that there were very few, I understand. Ribbon's a bit tatty.
answered Nov 10 by C. Mackinnon G2G6 Mach 2 (26,860 points)
+8 votes

As far as what was the highest honor received by one of your ancestors, my answer would be:

SGM Augustus Barry who served in the American Civil War in the 16th U.S. Infantry for the Union Army. He received the Medal of Honor on February 28, 1870 for his actions in Tennessee and Georgia during the war. https://www.wikitree.com/wiki/Barry-1904

answered Nov 10 by Dorothy Barry G2G6 Pilot (656,910 points)
+5 votes

No military honours other than the 1914 star for my  G Uncle  who was one of the Old Contemptibles but sadly didn't survive that year dying at the end of October.

My husband's father was an Army Chaplain in WW2 and  was in the field in Italy and in the Desert. He was obviously  non combatant. He survived to tell the tale (but didn't ) He  received an MBE for his part. 

But you know when I read the service records of the ordinary young men who enlisted in 1914 and 15, the thing that always strikes  is how small they were (height weight chest size ). I suspect many came from very poor backgrounds and were malnourished as children.They responded to the pleas of Kitchener et al 'Your Country needs You'  but they hadn't the foggiest idea of why they were fighting nor the horrendous conditions and danger they would encounter,

The young ex grammar and public school recruits who became their officers might have better fed and better educated but they also fell for the 'old lie' .

It doesn't matter in my opinion whether they received the VC or just the ordinary campaign medals ,or (as many did)  ended up in an Asylum or even  if they were shot for desertion . https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shot_at_Dawn_Memorial 

They all have their stories and should be remembered. 

answered Nov 10 by Helen Ford G2G6 Pilot (118,540 points)
Being undernourished was still a phenomenon at WWII apparently whereas German youth had been taking fitness more seriously. (Source not available!)
+5 votes
Great Uncle Gene Daugherty awarded:
Distinguished Service Cross
Silver Star Medal
Purple Heart with 2 Bronze Oak Leaf Clusters
Army Good Conduct Medal
American Campaign Medal
European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal
World War II Victory Medal
Combat Infantryman Badge

Can read about some of his crazy (but brave) accomplishments at his findagrave memorial. I still need to do his WikiTree Profile justice.

https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/56654223/gene-porter-daugherty
answered Nov 10 by Zack Daugherty G2G1 (1,420 points)
+6 votes

Not a direct ancestor, not the highest honour received, but my great gran had a Russian Order of Saint Anna with swords (like the below), which she believed had been awarded to her grandmother's brother-in-law, Sergei Sergeevich Somov.
However, in 2012, construction workers in Saint Petersburg  unearthed a pre-revolutionary treasure trove, found in a derelict palace during restoration works. To our amazement Sergei's medal - along with his certificate - was part of that trove.
So, We've no idea who great-gran's medal was actually awarded to.
Order of Saint Anna

answered Nov 10 by Julie Guthrie G2G6 Mach 7 (78,340 points)
My great (x3) grandfather was awarded the Order of Saint Andrew the Apostle the First-Called - Russia's highest honour.
However, he received it when he was baptised, so I don't think it really counts.

I've found the actual medal of Sergei Sergeevich Somov - in the top right of the photo.
Medal

+5 votes

Robert Charles Penny Philp, a relative of both Laura Bozzay and myself, was awarded an MC (Military Cross) and Bar in WWI:

Military Cross

 

Yesterday Laura and I were contacted by someone whose great uncle had served in Captain Philp's company during the capture of Meteren (part of the Battles of Lys) on 19-22 July 1918. Sadly, his great uncle was wounded on the 19th and died of hie wounds on the 22nd. His great uncle was posthumously promoted to Lance Corporal and awarded the Military Medal.

Military Medal

answered Nov 10 by Iain Old G2G6 Pilot (208,700 points)
edited Nov 10 by Iain Old
+5 votes

No direct ancestors won medals - one grandfather was gassed at Ypres, and had shrapnel wounds, but no awards.

But a first cousin twice removed was awarded the OBE for his work designing and building airships in WW I. [https://www.wikitree.com/wiki/Campbell-21709 Charles Ivor Rae Campbell]

And the husband of a second cousin once removed    [https://www.wikitree.com/wiki/Chapman-9072 Oswald Chapman] was awarded the C.B.E for his work in developing armoured vehicles in WW I  and WW II.

The husband of another second cousin once removed [https://www.wikitree.com/wiki/Lumsden-466 William Vernon Lumsden] was awarded  the Military Cross in 1917. In1918 he was awarded Awarded a Bar to the Distinguished Service Order (DSO).

The husband of another first cousin twice removed  [https://www.wikitree.com/wiki/Rendell-174 Henry Thomas Rendell]   was awarded the DSO in 1918.

The first husband of the wife of a third cousin twice removed [https://www.wikitree.com/wiki/Mansergh-13    Robert Forbes Mansergh] was awarded the Military Cross.

The awards are all on the upper middle class branches of the family. On the working class branches, all they got were wounds and death.. those are the ones I think of on Armistice Day.

answered Nov 10 by Janet Gunn G2G6 Mach 3 (31,610 points)
edited Nov 10 by Janet Gunn
+8 votes
I have two presidential unit citations, plus the usual Vietnam stuff. Went to Vietnam at age 19, returned age 21. Yeah, I had two birthdays there, which kind of sucked. ;)
answered Nov 10 by Bart Triesch G2G6 Mach 4 (43,590 points)
No "kind of" about it.
Thanks Natalie. Yes it was a violent, horrible time. So many young men lost. 58,000 to be exact. But I, like almost all veterans returning from all wars turned out to be ok.
Glad to hear that, Bart. And thank you for your service. It was a horrible war, but in no way was that due to guys like you. (I was a kid during the war, watching it unfold on television every night. I joined the Navy in 1976, and many of my classmates questioned why I would enlist on the heels of that war. I just wanted to serve, and really have no other explanation.)
+4 votes

My 2nd great grandfather’s older brother David MacKay was awarded the Victoria Cross for action in India in 1857.

Victoria Cross Citation, from the London Gazette, 24 December 1858:

For great personal gallantry in capturing an enemy colour after a most obstinate resistance, at the Secundrabagh, Lucknow, on the 16th of November 1857. He was severely wounded afterwards at the capture of the Shah Nujjif.

David MacKay was with the 93rd Highlanders in India and earlier in the Crimea where he was part of the “Thin Red Line”

David’s Wikitree entry is McKay - 1152

answered Nov 11 by Steven McKay G2G Crew (320 points)
+5 votes

My father received the purple heart in the Vietnam War and great uncle Clayton Slack-928 received too many metals to mention

answered Nov 11 by Tina Slack G2G4 (4,770 points)
edited Nov 15 by Tina Slack
+3 votes
My Great Grandfather Jourdeuil-19 was awarded the Legion d'honneur and died at Arras on 9 May 1915 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Arras_(1915).

 

My Grandfather Archambault-457 was awarded the DSO and MC during the WW I.
answered Nov 12 by Phil Jourdeuil G2G1 (1,270 points)
+2 votes
My father Jack Joseph Christensen received the Distinguished Flying Cross for 200 or more hours combat flight in China during WW II in a B-24 Liberator.
answered Nov 15 by June Gentine G2G Rookie (260 points)
+2 votes
My great grandfather Engr. Capt W.R.Apps RN was given the Royal Victorian order by the Prince of Wales in 1909 for Services rendered on his royal visit to India on HMS Renown.

My grandfather , Lieutenent Cuthbert Blake RN commanded a destroyer at the battle of Jutland. He was awarded the DSO (Distinguished Service Order) for his Actions. He also received the Royal Russian Order of St. Anne from the Tsar.
answered Nov 15 by Chris Gilson-Taylor G2G Crew (700 points)
+2 votes
My father, Dr. Wayne Alan Peer received both the "Bronze Star" and the "Vietnamese Metal of Honor".
answered Nov 15 by Roy Wayne Peer
+2 votes
The Bronze Star, World War II, Thomas Hamilton, 1916-1974.
answered Nov 15 by Lynne Yager
+2 votes
My ancestor, William Humphrey (humphrey-5960) served as a Major in the Revolutionary War
answered Nov 15 by Bill Sims G2G Crew (810 points)
+2 votes
My father's unit, the 320th Bomb Group, USAAF, flew with the 12th Air Force in the Mediterranean theater. They got a unit citation for the Croix de Guerre, with palm, for action in preparation for and in support of Allied offensive operations in central Italy, April through June 1944. My Dad used to have a copy. They also had a couple of Distinguished Unit Citations for operations in northern Italy and ins support of the invasion of southern France.
No individual awards, though, so far as I can remember, for S/SGT Walter D. Ashley.
answered Nov 15 by Ross Ashley G2G5 (5,610 points)
+2 votes
My father, Kenneth Floyd Nelson was awarded the Silver Star and the Belgian Croix de Guerre avec Palme for his work behind the German lines directing artillery fire near Petit-Halleux in the 82nd Airborne in WWII.  Also the Purple Heart.
answered Nov 15 by Gilbert Nelson G2G1 (1,930 points)

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