that had been strenuously denied to veterans by successive governments; suddenly it seemed that there was potential for all wrongs to be righted, all the perceived injustices to be made good. If the government of the “noughties” could grant a medal for an action in the fifties then surely other grievances could be addressed. Campaigns by various other veterans’ organisations proliferated, with calls for new campaign medals or clasps—either to commemorate service hitherto “ignored” or to differentiate between theatres of operations for which one wide reaching medal had thus far been awarded. Unfortunately, in a masterpiece of spin, the government decreed that whilst the award of the Suez medal might look like a u-turn of policy in fact it was no such thing and that the rule that no new medal could be awarded for an action/campaign etc., that took place over five years ago was still in place—leaving aggrieved veterans still campaigning. Then attitudes changed again—with the backdrop of the Afghan and Iraq conflicts and their unpopularity at home, a campaign was started to encourage a better attitude toward returning servicemen and women, with towns being urged to hold homecoming parades etc. All well and good—until it was pointed out that there were other veterans of previous wars who were still waiting to be honoured—how could the government encourage the public to welcome the heroes home if they themselves turned their back on those that went before? A good point and so the badges arrived—first the Veterans Badge with a criteria that originally just encompassed the World War II generation of servicemen, then one for the Arctic Convoy veterans who claimed that the Atlantic Star was not enough to cover the hardship and conditions they suffered, followed by the Merchant Seaman’s Badge and now these new ones for the Bevin Boys and Land Girls. All well and good, on the surface, but aren’t we in danger of overkill? No-one would deny that recognition should be given where it is due but these badges don’t have the strict criteria of official medals and that, I fear, will cause a problem.
It seems that if you were in the Land Army during World War II you can apply for a badge; if you were on a Merchant vessel operated to facilitate military operations you can apply for a badge and now, with the broadening of the criteria, if you’ve served in the British forces at any time, you can apply for a badge etc. However, already there are voices of dissent—is it right that a sailor who served on one ship seconded to a “military” operation once should get the same “recognition” as one who served for far longer and came under fire? Is it right that a soldier who served a few months, all at home, and then decided that Army life wasn’t for him gets to wear the same badge on his lapel as someone who spent most of his adult life in uniform? I don’t know, but what