Kings Letter, Scroll and Medals


As the Great War progressed the government became aware of the large number of  those who had given their life in the conflict. In October 1916 the government set up a committee to organise a commemorative plaque that could be given to the relatives of the fallen. An illustration of one of these plaques can be viewed in the article titled the “Death Penny” in this WWI section of the SALHS website. The plaques were sent out by post in a OHMS white envelope inside which was a cardboard envelope containing the brass plaque and a white envelope, embossed with the royal crest, within which was the Kings Letter.


THE KINGS LETTER


In October 1917 the same committee announced that a commemorative scroll would also be issued to the relatives of the fallen. The committee, despite consulting a variety of well-known writers, became bogged down when trying to agree on the words that should appear on the scroll. In the end the Provost of Kings College Cambridge was asked to draft a form of words which was with only minor modifications the form adopted. One particular amendment was prompted by King George V who requested a wish to be mentioned on the scroll.

The scroll was sent out separately from the plaque and due no doubt to the large numbers involved no attempt was made to co-ordinate their dispatch. As a result many of the relatives received the two deliveries with a considerable gap of time between them.


A Commemorative Scroll


   It is quite unusual to find a plaque, Kings Letter and commemorative scroll for the same person. The letter and scroll illustrated were both sent to the relatives of Private Arthur Wilson of the London Regiment. The author purchased them for one shilling in a local jumble sale in the late 1960s some forty plus years after they were issued. They had been mounted on stiff card and were no doubt at one time mounted in black frames and hung on the wall of the relative’s home. Being mounted on card they have survived for nearly a century now in remarkably good condition. Unfortunately the brass plaque for Arthur Wilson was not on sale at the jumble sale. He is thought to be the Private Arthur Wilson whose service number was 282573 of the London Regiment (Royal Fusiliers) 2nd / 4th Bn. His death on the 16th June 1917 is recorded on the Arras Memorial in France.

  The British War Medal and the Victory Medal were awarded to both the fallen and those who survived the conflict. When the medals were issued in the 1920s many of the relatives of the fallen would have received the medals some considerable time after the plaque and scroll.


WWI British War Medal and Victory Medal


These medals of the Great War had the service number, rank, name and regiment of the soldier for whom they were issued stamped into the edge of the medal. The medals illustrated were awarded to 108236 Private J Bright Liverpool Regiment.


Medal Award Document for John Bright

John Bright lived at 18 South Street Stanstead Abbotts and survived the war. Very sadly he was to receive his medals not that long after his first wife passed away. Like so many who survived he lived the rest of his life always remembering the large number of pre-war friends and school chums who did not return from France.


Stuart Moye

October 2014