GOLD MEDALS

 

Sailors at the time of Nelson were:

Badly paid

Badly fed

Pressed ganged

Put to half pay

Spend long periods at sea

Died horrible deaths of disease

Died horrible deaths in action

Were thrown overboard as corpses

And then marked down as DD DISCHARGE DEAD

Were flogged and hanged

And if that were not enough

They were not awarded any medals for their efforts.

 

From the first major battle with Revolutionary France to the last battle i.e., from the GLORIOUS FIRST OF JUNE until WATERLOO [1794-1815] {Which included war with the United States of America in 1812} only Flag Officers and Captains who were conspicuous for their courage were awarded an OFFICIAL MEDAL, which was called a GOLD MEDAL.

 

It came in two sizes, the big one for Flag Officers and Captains-of-the-Fleet and a smaller one for Captains of ships. Nelson won three gold medals for his many actions. However, for fear of upsetting the Danes, the British Government refused to issue a medal for the Battle of Copenhagen, which did upset Nelson and his Captains.

 

Certain rich men of the times paid for and issued medals to everybody else who took part in the Battles and these were accepted to be SEMI-OFFICIAL CAMPAIGN MEDALS. One such man, Alexander Davison issued a medal to all involved in the Battle of the Nile giving gold medals to Nelson and his Captains, silver medals to Lieutenants and Warrant Officers, gilt copper to Petty Officers, and copper medals to the seamen and marines. Matthew Boulton issued the Trafalgar Medal for all seamen and marines concerned, all in copper, reputedly issuing 14,000 specimens. This medal was also minted in precious metals but was not issued to survivors of the Battle . Today, it is difficult to believe that a victorious nations Government could be so mean and indifferent to these men as to not recognised their sacrifice for the sake of the United Kingdom, but such were the brutal and cruel times of the eighteenth century.

 

My final paragraph tells of an even more bizarre happening brought about by the Government. In 1849, fifty-five long years after the Glorious First of June and forty-four long years after Trafalgar, they issued the Naval General Service Medal to each man still living who had served in any conflict between 1793 and 1840, adding to the medal a clasp for each of the major battles in that period. It was the FIRST OFFICIAL MEDAL and thereafter each war/battle/campaign was awarded its own official medal with clasps where necessary.

 

A TRULY SAD AND DISTURBING EVENT IN OUR NAVAL HISTORY.