Monthly Archives: January 2021

Medals of achievement – After the war

Teresa Hulton (1890–1972)

On the 18th of December 1918 Teresa received exciting news. She wrote to her mother, Costanza, ‘Just heard that Mrs W + I (and I suppose the Gordon Watsons) have received the Croce di Guerra.’ 

Croce di Guerre Announcement 1918

A 1918 postcard that mentions Teresa and Mrs Watkins receiving the Croce di Guerre (Italian War cross medal). Teresa signs the message with her childhood nickname, Bim.

The Croce di Guerra (Cross of War) was instituted by King Victor Emmanuel III of Italy in January 1918. The medal was awarded for merit in ‘land, sea or air operations after at least a year’s service in the trenches or elsewhere in contact with the enemy; to those wounded in action; those who had performed acts of bravery and those who had achieved promotion for a mention for war effort.’

The medal was bronze and the front shows the royal cypher and the inscription ‘Merito di Guerra’. The reverse shows a five pointed star on a background of rays. The ribbon is alternate blue and white stripes.

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Teresa’s Croce di Guerra medal. This small bronze medal is inscribed ‘MERITO DI GUERRA’. It hangs on a blue and white striped silk ribbon.

Teresa was awarded the Croce di Guerra in January 1919. She wrote to her future husband, Lord Berwick, about the ceremony that she and Mrs Watkins attended to receive their medals:

On the last evening General Caviglia assembled his HQ staff and presented each of us with the Croce di Guerra, making a charming speech. We were much touched and it is a nice ending to our war work especially coming from such a fine soldier’.

Mrs Watkins album 105 no. 35

Teresa and Mrs Watkins receiving their Croce di Guerra medals

In the same letter she added, upon hearing of Lord Berwick’s involvement with diplomatic work in Paris to negotiate a Peace Treaty: ‘I see you have been promoted. Many congratulations – we seem to be getting on in our military careers’.

Lord Berwick wrote back to her: ‘My dear Teresa, I was delighted to hear what a successful and pleasant journey you had and besides your other successes, that you had been decorated by General Caviglia with the Croce di Guerra. My very best congratulations – I feel this is a very great compliment to you and a surely well earned reward for your devoted work for Italy during the war and it gives me the greatest pleasure that you have it and as you say, to have received it in such circumstances and at the hands of so great a general makes it a still more valued possession.’

mrs-watkins-album-103.jpg

This page in Mrs Watkins’s wartime album commemorates the day she and Teresa received their war medals (c) Hamish Scott

Teresa was also subsequently awarded the Medaglia Commemorativa Della Guerra 1915 – 1918 Per Il Compimento dell Unita d’Italia (the Commemorative Medal For The War 1915 -1918 For The Completing Of The Union Of Italy). This medal was introduced in July 1920. The title of the medal refers to ‘Completing The Union Of Italy’ because the Italians saw the First World War as continuing their endeavour to unite all areas of Italy into one nation by acquiring land held by Austria.

Circular bronze medal of 1920 inscribed: S.CANEVARI. GUERRA PER L’UNITA D’ITALIA CONIATA. NEL BRONZO-NEMICO (War for the Unity of Italy 1915 1918) NT 609990

The medal was awarded to armed service personnel, civilians who assisted the armed services and to Red Cross workers and ambulance drivers. The medal was designed by the sculptor S. Canevari. It features the King Victor Emmanuel III in a military uniform and helmet on the front and around the edge are the words ‘Guerra Per L’Unita d’Italia 1915 – 1918’ (War For The Unity Of Italy 1915 – 1918). The reverse shows a winged ‘Victory’ figure held aloft by two helmeted soldiers and around the edge are the words ‘COINATA N.EL BRONZO NEIVIICO’ (Coined from enemy bronze).

Another medal in the Attingham collection is the Croce Commemorativa della Terza Armata, Guerra 1915 – 1918. This is the Commemorative Cross of the Italian Third Army during the First World War. It features a white enamel and silvered bronze Greek cross surmounted by the Crown of Savoy. On the face of the cross is depicted the Lion of St Mark with a sword in its right paw.

Teresa’s Italian war medals NT 610024

Lord Berwick (1877–1947)

On the 27th of June 1919 Lord Berwick received from The War Office a formal notice of his demobilisation from the army, which had occurred on the 2nd of June 1919. The document included the following words of gratitude:

I am also to take this opportunity of conveying the thanks of the Army Council for your services to the Country during the late war and for the excellent work you have done’.

Lord B Demobilisation 1919

Lord Berwick’s demobilisation certificate dated June 1919

Lord Berwick was awarded the British War Medal and The Allied Victory Medal for his war services.

Two medals by Spink and Son Ltd., circa 1919, hung on silk ribbons and sewn to a silver pin bar. One medal depicts a winged classical female holding a torch (the Allied Victory Medal). The other is cast with the head of King George V in profile (the British War Medal). NT 610076

The British War Medal is a campaign medal of the British Empire awarded for service during World War One. The medal was approved in 1919 for all who had served between the 5th of August 1914 and the 11th of November 1918. Approximately 6.5 million medals were issued.

The medal is circular and is made of silver (although some were bronze). The front of the medal shows the head of King George V. The reverse shows St George on horseback with the dates 1914 and 1918. The medal ribbon has a wide stripe of orange flanked by two narrow white stripes which in turn are flanked by two narrow black stripes, followed by two narrow blue stripes.

The Allied Victory Medal was issued within the British Empire as a result of the Peace Conference that resulted in the Treaty of Versailles. It was awarded to British citizens who had been mobilised during the First World War.

by Spink and Sons Ltd

Another photograph of Lord Berwick’s war medals NT 610076.1.1

The medal is circular and is lacquered in bronze. The front of the medal shows the winged figure of the goddess Victory. The reverse has the words ‘The Great War For Civilisation 1914 – 1918’ surrounded by a laurel leaf. The ribbon has a rainbow design with violet on the outside moving to red in the centre.

Lord Berwick 1922 - Cropped

Lord Berwick in his military uniform in 1922

The British War Medal and the Allied Victory Medal awarded to Lord Berwick for his service in the First World War are inscribed to ‘Major Berwick’. Peter Duckers, former Curator of Shropshire Regimental Museum, said that these medals, which are now housed in the museum, would have been inscribed for the highest rank achieved by an individual and he is in no doubt that Lord Berwick was a Major at some point, although he did say this may have only been in an acting or ceremonial capacity.

Lord B's medals 2

Lord Berwick’s military medals in Shropshire Regimental Museum