S. Park (aka sparky) toiling away at everything and nothing for a bleak final outcome for Unit 14 of BA Graphic Design at CSM

Exploring the visual culture of WWII, in comparison to the visual culture of modern warfare.
Month: April 2010

Methods of Wear


Orders, decoratiojns and medals that are worn suspended from straight ribands on the left breast must be worn in a horizontal line, and should be mounted for wear in one of two ways: ‘ordinary’ style, or ‘court’ style (sometimes also referred to as ‘royal’ style)

Ordinary Style

Utilizes a single ‘brooch-bar’, a metal bar to which the top part of each riband is attached with the medal hanging loosely.

Image source

Medals must be arranged on the bar according to the ‘order of wear’. The senior award must be fully visible and the nearest the centre of the chest. Up to five mdals may be worn side-by-side without the medals overlapping. The bar itself must be unseen, although the need to ensure that medal rebands appear on the brooch-bar with no intervening gaps will usually mean that there is some slight but unavoidable overlapping if medals or decorations exceed the breadth of the riband itself.

Regulations for the Armed Forces state that not more than two-thirds of a riband should be covered byt he riband of an adjacent medal.

Each medal must be worn with its ‘obverse’ showing frontwards. (Obverse: Sovereign’s Head, ROyal Cypher, or otherwise a crown, coat of arms, or national flag.

Riband Length - Each riband, when mounted with its medal on the brooch-bar should measure not less than 32mm (1¼ins) from the top of the riband to the top of the suspension or to the topmost clasp. When two or more medals and decorations are to be worn they should be arranged so that their lowest points are horizontally in line. Service regulations recognise that in order to allow a taller decoration to be suspended from a 32mm length of riband, adjacent medals are likely to require ribands of longer measurement.

Scanned from ‘A Manual for the Wearing of Orders, Decorations and Medals’, Andrew Hanham, 2005, Spink & Sons ltd, London, pg 36

Court Style

Medals mounted in the ‘court’ style are mounted together in a rigid group. Decorations and medals mounted in this fashion are secured so that they do not make contact with each other and consequently avoid being chipped and scratched. *wait, so it’s OK for the ‘ordinary’ style to chip the medals?

Each medal and its riband is mounted on to a buckram and cloth covered metal frame. The medal is held in position on the frame so that the riband measures 32mm from the medal suspension, or topmost clasp, to the top of the frame. The riband then passes down the back of the covered frame and round to the front where it is brought up underneath the medal and sewn so that the area of frame showing beneath the medal is entirely covered with the riband. The medal is then stitched firmly in to place through the riband.

Scanned from ‘A Manual for the Wearing of Orders, Decorations and Medals’, Andrew Hanham, 2005, Spink & Sons ltd, London, pg 37

Bars and Clasps

A Bar is a full-width metal device worn on the riband of a decoration or medal awarded for gallantry, bravery, distinguished or long service to denote the additional award of a particular decoration or medal.

A Clasp is a full-width metal device which records the geographical area or zone of a campaign and/or the period of a campaign, or additional periods of service.


Out & About,, Research

I remembered seeing medals and ribbons displayed in a window of a store somewhere in Covent Garden so after the tutorial with Max I went out for an excursion to find the shop. The particular store I remembered was easy to find, one called Toye Kenning & Spencer LTD just opposite the Freemasons Hall on Great Queen Street, but I had no idea the entire store was for medals badges and trophies for the Freemasons society. I asked a store assistant whether they sold medal ribbons and he said they’re quite hard to comeby to begin with, but that I should try Spink which is just up Southampton Row. Well how very convenient.

I walked to Spink, and then walked past it. I would’ve never realized it was a shop if not for the fact that I was looking for it. There was no shop window, the only thing on display was a face of what looked to be Tsar Nicholas II and no they weren’t selling that picture… I think. Über exclusive entrance too, no?

Inside, when I asked about literature on medals of the world wars I was introduced to a lovely lady called Catherine, who picked out books that might be of use. Turns out there aren’t any books specifically on the medals and accomplishment awards of the Second World War, but of all the wars, including contemporary depending on when the book was published. Then she disappeared through a set of doors and emerged 10 minutes later with a handful of ‘scrap’ medal ribbons. Wowza, here’s where my project kicks off properly I guess.

Tutorial Notes 27/04/10


Maria: Russian Space city photography

Ellen's graphic interpretation of identity

I think it’s comforting to see what others have been doing and how far they’ve managed to get in their project. I thought Maria’s project especially stood out because her medium format photography was quite impressive, although sometimes indistinguishable among the ‘vintage’ archive photos she mixed in with her batch. Still, really interesting topic – who’d have thought to visit the Star city for a project! It would be amazing to investigate the Space Race of the Cold War and the reasons why the place looks the way it does now…

Tutorial Notes 22/04/10


Kei's vintage classroom map

More vintage nicnacs from Kei's collection

Annabel: Photos of abandoned satellite dishes

Lucy & Rose, interaction with design agencies and promoting identity

I guess I’m a little relieved everyone’s not fully engaged in something – I thought I was the only one lagging behind. It’s hard keeping two big things going at the same time. OK tutorial notes:

Lucy mentioned something about how the soldiers would feel patronized that they would go through a life-risking campaign, losing close friends during battle, only to receive a meager medal.
Ties in with the questioning the worth of a medal, maybe that’s also the reason why people sell them off?

General discussion leaned towards making insinuation with daily-life circumstances & items with the language of medals.
Visual language? The language of receiving something for something you do?

Rose mentioned how if someone has a plaster on the small of their elbow, that automatically tells others that he’s given blood. Therefore the plaster acts as a sort of ‘medal’ or sign. Other examples like bumper sticker, teardrop, earrings (to mark sexuality) came up.
Not sure I want to go into the signage, I do want my piece to have the taste of a certain military structure.

    Veteran Chest Decoration


    Veteran. HMS Wrangler - Royal Arthur Skegness Lincolnshire UK

    Source link


    On what occasions are medals to be worn exactly? What are the orders and regulations when wearing medals? Are they only allowed on one side of the chest or both?


    Medal Policy 2


    British War & Defence Medal Set

    War Medal

    Generally awarded if the service period qualified for one of the Stars and if terminated by death, disability due to service or capture as a prisoner-of-war. A merchant seaman had to have served a minimum of 28 days at sea

    Atlantic Star

    Awarded after the Battle of the Atlantic for service between 3 September 1939 and 8 May 1945 and if the service period was terminated by their death or disability due to service. The qualifying service period for the Atlantic Star could only begin after the 1939-1945 Star had been earned by 6 months’ service. A merchant seaman had to serve in the Atlantic, home waters, North Russia Convoys or South Atlantic waters. The Atlantic Star was also awarded to those awarded a gallantry medal, with no minimum qualifying period.

    1939-1945 Star
    Awarded for service between 3 September 1939 and 2 September 1945 and if the service period was terminated by death or disability due to service. A merchant seaman could qualify after 6 months’ service with at least one voyage in an operational area. The 1939-1945 Star was also awarded to recipients of a gallantry medal, with no minimum qualifying period.

    Africa Star

    Awarded for service between 10 June 1940 and 12 May 1943, serving in the Mediterranean. A merchant seaman might also qualify serving in operations off the Moroccan coast between 8 November 1942 and 12 May 1943. The minimum qualifying period was one day.

    Pacific Star

    Awarded for service in the Pacific Ocean, South China Sea or the Indian Ocean between 8 December 1941 and 2 September 1945. Generally the qualifying service period for the Pacific Star could only begin after the 1939-1945 Star had been earned by 6 months’ service.

    Burma Star

    Awarded for service in the Burma Campaign between 11 December 1941 and 2 September 1945. A merchant seaman qualified serving within a restricted area in the Bay of Bengal. Generally the qualifying service period for the Burma Star could only begin after the 1939-1945 Star had been earned by 6 months’ service.

    France & Germany Star

    Awarded for service between 6 June 1944 and 8 May 1945, in direct support of land operations in France, Belgium, Holland or Germany, in the North sea, the English Channel or the Bay of Biscay (service off the coast of the south of France could qualify for the Italy Star, see below). There was no minimum time qualification for a Merchant Seaman.

    Italy Star

    Awarded for service between 11 June 1943 and 8 May 1945, in the Mediterranean and the Aegean Sea. Operations in and around the Dodecanese, Corsica, Greece, Sardinia and Yugoslavia after 11 June 1943 would also qualify. Generally the qualifying service period for the Italy Star could only begin after the 1939-1945 Star had been earned by 6 months’ service. There were no clasps awarded with the Italy Star.

    Information Source: The National Archives; Photo source: WW2 Depot

    Medal Policy

    Research,, WWII

    Maximum number of WWII Medals

    No one person could receive more than 5 stars and the two medals. Also no one person was awarded more than one clasp to any one campaign star.

    This maximum entitlement can be expressed as

    • 1939-45 Star
    • Atlantic Star (or Aircrew Europe or France and Germany)
    • Africa Star
    • Pacific Star (or Burma Star)
    • Italy Star
    • Defence Medal
    • War Medal

    Info from Stephen Stratford.co.uk, Image from WWII Medals Badges & Insignia

    The Value of an Accomplishment?

    Progress,, WWII

    As mentioned before I stumbled upon a webstore that sold medals and badges from the Second World War. Usually I’d have beamed at the fact that such novelty items were available for purchase, but then it got me thinking how there can be a value to accomplishment medals? The prices on the store seem to depend on the physical state of the medals and there probably is a standard pricing for the different types (derived from what exactly?) but is it really right to be selling some of these? I’m sure many of the badges and insignias were either surplus or part of an overflowing ‘archive’, but what about the medals and ID Tags? Has memorabilia from WWII faded into the souvenir category already?

    It might be interesting to look at the worth of medals, how does one go about obtaining one, what kind of story is behind it, and what relationship the wearer/giver might have with it…

    April 2010
    M T W T F S S
    « Mar   May »
    To-Do List
    • Do mock-up of Jacket and figure out max ribbon panel count
    • Figure out number of categories & order ribbons!
    • Obtain statistics for the categories
    • Visit Imperial War Museum
    • Visit National Army Museum
    • Visit the 'Decode' Exhibition at V&A
    • Explore visual culture of War - information graphics?