Our father claimed to have been a captain in the United States Marine Corps. There hung on the wall in the corridor a box frame with a tastefully mounted display of the medals he said he had been awarded for his heroic service. However, he also was a con man, a perpetrator of insurance scams and a property developer of shoddy houses that collapsed. He was not very successful at it and was easily duped by con men of superior skill, so he bought air rights over road intersections that were never built and made high-interest loans of money that was never repaid. He managed to elude jail and the riches he so coveted managed to elude him. Given his civilian lifestyle of alternating boasting with cravenly hiding from the law, we had grave doubts about the authenticity of his medals for courage and bravery. We suspected they may have been a hodgepodge of dodgy coins and ribbons he picked up in pawn shops but, by the time we were tall enough to see into the box frame and read them properly, we had long flown that turbulent nest, so we will never know.
In the course of researching a French fellow of the same stamp as our father, we came across a nice little website that may be of interest to the many of our Dear Readers who send photographs of medals with questions as to what they were. How to tell an agricultural medal from school medal from a military one? Medailles Militaires, the website of one Sylvain Metivier, may be of some use in solving your puzzle. He has created two data bases that can be searched:
- Military medals awarded from 1852 to 1870, the information being taken from lists published in the Moniteur Universel during those years, to which he has added the Légion d'honneur recipients and others found in archives. This has well over 58,000 names.
- Commemorative medals awarded during the Second Empire, including the Crimean and other wars of the period. This has close to 36,000 names.
Type in a surname to either and you will receive some very useful details that could help to further your research, most precious being the regiment in which a person served. The full list of results possible is:
- The medal
- Date of the decree awarding it
- Ministry awarding it
- Regiment in which the person served
- First names (all of them)
- Reasons for the award
Monsieur Metivier welcomes contributions to the data bases.
©2021 Anne Morddel