Displays - Honours and Awards
HONOURS AND AWARDS
By John Condon and Fred Judge
The Honours & Awards interactive display has been one of the central, and most popular, displays within the Intelligence Corps Museum since it was formally unveiled at Corps Day in 2008. The display has two objectives:
- To commemorate individually those members of the Corps who have been decorated or otherwise honoured in recognition of their gallantry or service.
- To maintain a perpetual record of all such decorations made to members of the Corps since its formation in July 1940 and ongoing into the future.
Due to the widespread and varied nature of the Corps' activities across the world there have also been a rich (and colourful) variety of foreign awards. During World War II members of the Corps served in a wide range of different countries and theatres of war -– Ethiopia, Sweden Jordan and Czechoslovakia being only some examples - and were decorated by the governments of those countries. We even have the Soviet Order of the Red Banner of Labour! In total 360 awards of 47 different decorations representing 20 different countries have been made to members of the Corps.
Whether British or foreign, these awards represent the vital role played by the Corps during the Second Word War and all those campaigns and operational deployments since then. For obvious reasons many of the citations relating to the awards for those more recent operations, especially those connected to special duties or counter terrorism, have not been made public and this is likely to remain the case for some considerable time. However, in many cases where no official citations are available we have been able to unearth some details of the background to the award. Paradoxically, in some cases where the citation is still protectively marked the full details of the award have been published elsewhere.
One area where sensitivity is likely to remain for some considerable time is that of Northern Ireland. In total there were over 400 awards made to members of the Corps for service in Northern Ireland, including 1 George Medal and 29 Queens Gallantry Medals - the latter being the highest total made to any regiment or corps in the British Army in Ulster.
Much of the research for the original database was conducted by Mr Fred Judge, a well-known retired member of the Intelligence Corps and a former Intelligence Corps Association Regional Secretary and Trustee of the Museum. While gathering the information he did not have the benefit of any one centralised information source - being forced to search through endless publications and databases, including many internet sources.
The display case, which is flanked by the Union Flag on one side and the Corps Flag on the other, is of contemporary glass design containing exact copies of all the 14 British decorations that have been awarded to members of the Corps together with several examples of foreign decorations. Each medal is individual mounted and illuminated. The glass front includes a touch-screen interactive panel which acts as the visual display for the database. Information about each decoration can be obtained and includes a full colour graphic of the medal, both obverse and reverse, together with its background and the criteria for award; each can be further interrogated to list all Intelligence Corps recipients of that decoration. When this facility is selected the medal of choice is illuminated to highlight it from the others in the case.
The user can also search by name of recipient and this will show all decorations to that individual together with the dates of the award and the war/campaign/theatre for which it was awarded; the citation, where it is known and can be told, is also included. As representative examples of the actions for which certain decorations were awarded, the stories of several individual recipients of each British decoration have been told, together with some examples of foreign awards; these detailed narratives also include photographs of the individual or those relative to the context of the incident.
For such a small Corps, at any time in its history, the database of awards contains some interesting statistics. Since its formation in 1940 the Intelligence Corps has been awarded 896 Mentions in Despatches; 229 Commendations of various types; 127 OBEs; 397 MBEs; 120 BEMs; 22 DSOs; 16 CBEs - and 2 awards of the very rare Burmese Gallantry Medal (BGM), made to native members of the Burma Intelligence Corps. Also, as mentioned earlier, our awards of the Queen's Gallantry Medal in Northern Ireland far outstrip any other regiment or Corps in the British Army. Our foreign awards include the likes of the Tunisian Order of Nichan Iftkhar, the Czechoslovakian Order of the White Lion, the Greek Royal Order of the Phoenix and, from Luxemburg, the Order of Adolphe of Nassau. Other foreign awards include the Italian Military Cross and the Omani Distinguished Service Medal.
The Honours & Awards display and database provides a fitting tribute and commemoration to all those individuals of the Intelligence Corps whose gallantry and service have been deemed worthy of special recognition and who have each, directly and indirectly, contributed to the esteem in which the Corps is held today.