Royal Observer Corps Medal

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Royal Observer Corps Medal
Royal Observer Corps Medal.jpg
Obverse and reverse of the medal
TypeLong service medal
Awarded for12 Years Service
Presented byUnited Kingdom
Eligibility Royal Observer Corps personnel
Clasps For each further 12 years service
Established1950
First awarded1953
Last awarded1995
Clasp to Royal Observer Corps Medal.png
Second award clasp
Royal Observer Corps Medal ribbon.png
Ribbon bar of the medal
United Kingdom
Order of Wear
Next (higher) Canadian Forces Decoration [1]
Next (lower) Civil Defence Medal Long Service Medal [1]

The Royal Observer Corps Medal was instituted in 1950 by King George VI for long service by members of the Royal Observer Corps (ROC) in the United Kingdom. It was awarded until December 1995, when the ROC was stood down. [2]

Contents

Service prior to 1939

Prior to World War II, Observer Corps personnel were classed as Special Constables , retained by local constabularies, and qualifying for the Special Constabulary Long Service Medal following nine years continuous service. This qualification ceased in August 1939 when RAF Fighter Command assumed sole responsibility for the ROC. However, service as a Special Constable on observer duties prior to August 1939 counted towards the ROC Medal, provided it had not already been reflected in an award of the Special Constabulary Long Service Medal. [3]

The new medal

In 1950 King George VI, as Air Commodore in Chief of the ROC, granted permission for the award of the Royal Observer Corps Medal in recognition of long service. For part-time personnel, the medal was awarded for twelve years continuous service. [4] Each subsequent period of twelve years service was recognised by the award of a clasp depicting a winged crown. On ribbon bars, a silver rosette was worn to represent each clasp. Peace time service by full-time salaried ROC Officers counted for half the qualification period for part-time personnel, therefore requiring up to twenty four years service to qualify for a medal or clasp, but with any previous war or part-time service counting in full. [3]

Description

ROC stable belt incorporating the colours of the ROC medal ribbon Royal Observer Corps Stable Belt.JPG
ROC stable belt incorporating the colours of the ROC medal ribbon

Ribbon

The medal ribbon is pale blue, with a silver central stripe, edged in dark blue; [5] representing the pale blue of the daytime sky, with a searchlight beam in a night sky at its centre. The colours of the ribbon were to be repeated in the ROC stable belt, with the addition of two outer stripes of dark blue. The medal ribbon's colour sequence is reversed in the ROC regimental tie.

Medal

The medal was die struck in cupronickel metal featuring the laureated head of Elizabeth II. Post-1953 medals featured the legend +ELIZABETH II DEI GRA:BRITT:OMN:REGINA F:D:, (+ELIZABETH·II·DEI·GRATIA·REGINA·F:D: from the mid 1950s), on the obverse. The reverse features the coast-watcher figure from the ROC badge, depicted against a backdrop of coastal warning beacons, with the motto FOREWARNED IS FOREARMED on a scroll beneath the figure, together with the words ROYAL OBSERVER CORPS MEDAL around the circumference. [5] The medal was suspended under an articulated bar depicting the RAF eagle. Although the medal was authorised in 1950, the first award was only made in 1953, and none were struck with the effigy of King George VI. [4]

The medal was awarded named, with the recipient's rank, initials and surname stamped on the medal's edge, [6] for example OBSERVER L.F. COLLINGS. [7]

Miniature ROC Medals were licensed and worn at formal Black Tie events where the invitation indicates such are permitted.

Unusual awards

In July 1961 the Commandant ROC Air Commodore Wight-Boycott presented a Royal Observer Corps Medal to the Battle of Britain Class locomotive no.34050 Royal Observer Corps, which had commenced service with the Southern Railway company in December 1946; the ceremony taking place at Waterloo station. [8] The medal was mounted in a glass fronted cabinet in the driver's cab and the locomotive's side was repainted with a representation of the medal and its ribbon. These were displayed until the engine was retired from service and scrapped in the late 1960s. However, the original nameplate and front badge were recovered and displayed in the entrance hall of RAF Bentley Priory, (HQ ROC), until 1996 when they were transferred to the RAF Museum, Hendon.

The only occasion where an ROC Medal was awarded to a former member of the ROC was when UK Warning and Monitoring Organisation Sector Controller Kenneth Rodley was awarded the ROC Medal after twenty four years full-time service. Rodley commenced his ROC service as Group Training Officer with 20 Group (York) in February 1958 and was later seconded to the Home Office, in 1971. It had been realised that, due to an administrative error, Rodley's secondment had never officially converted to that of a full civil service transfer, and that he had therefore technically remained a member of the ROC. The Medal was awarded to him by Air Commodore George Black at a surprise ceremony in 1984 at RAF Scampton. Rodley attempted to make an acceptance speech but was overcome by emotion and took his seat to a standing ovation by those present. [9]

Two recipients have received the ROC Medal with three clasps, representing 48 years of service including earlier service as Special Constables on observer duties. [10]

Disestablishment

The ROC was stood down in December 1995 and as such there are no ROC personnel in service. [11] However, should the ROC ever be reactivated the ROC medal remains extant and awards could recommence at that time.

ROC Medals are much sought after by collectors of militaria, and examples reaching several hundred pounds have been recorded at auction. [4]

Related Research Articles

RAF Bentley Priory

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The Royal Observer Corps (ROC) was a civil defence organisation intended for the visual detection, identification, tracking and reporting of aircraft over Great Britain. It operated in the United Kingdom between 29 October 1925 and 31 December 1995, when the Corps' civilian volunteers were stood down. Composed mainly of civilian spare-time volunteers, ROC personnel wore a Royal Air Force (RAF) style uniform and latterly came under the administrative control of RAF Strike Command and the operational control of the Home Office. Civilian volunteers were trained and administered by a small cadre of professional full-time officers under the command of the Commandant Royal Observer Corps; latterly a serving RAF Air Commodore.

1939–1945 Star United Kingdom military campaign medal for service in the Second World War

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General Service Medal (1918)

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Decoration for Officers of the Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve

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Efficiency Medal

The Efficiency Medal was instituted in 1930 for award to part-time warrant officers, non-commissioned officers and men after twelve years of efficient service on the active list of the Militia or the Territorial Army of the United Kingdom, or of the other Auxiliary Military Forces throughout the British Empire. At the same time a clasp was instituted for award to holders of the medal upon completion of further periods of six years of efficient service.

Efficiency Decoration

The Efficiency Decoration, post-nominal letters TD for recipients serving in the Territorial Army of the United Kingdom or ED for those serving in the Auxiliary Military Forces, was instituted in 1930 for award to part-time officers after twenty years of service as an efficient and thoroughly capable officer. The decoration superseded the Volunteer Officers' Decoration, the Colonial Auxiliary Forces Officers' Decoration and the Territorial Decoration.

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Richard Jordan (RAF officer)

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Efficiency Medal (South Africa)

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Royal Canadian Mounted Police Long Service Medal

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Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve Long Service and Good Conduct Medal British Empire naval volunteer medal for part time ratings

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Northern Ireland Prison Service Medal

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Special Constabulary Long Service Medal

The Special Constabulary Long Service Medal is long service medal awarded in the United Kingdom to members of the Special Constabulary who have completed a specified period of service. Established in 1919 by King George V, the medal was initially created to reward members of the Special Constabulary for their service during World War I.

Royal Air Force Long Service and Good Conduct Medal

The Royal Air Force Long Service and Good Conduct Medal is a medal awarded to regular members of the Royal Air Force in recognition of long service. It was instituted by King George V in 1919, the year following the establishment of the world's first independent air force. At first, the medal was awarded to Regular Force non-commissioned officers and airmen of the Royal Air Force. The award criteria were later relaxed to also allow the award of the medal to officers who had served a minimum period in the ranks before being commissioned. Since 2016, it is awarded to all regular members of the RAF, including officers who had never served in the ranks.

Colonial Special Constabulary Medal

The Colonial Special Constabulary Medal was established on 1 April 1957 as a volunteer and part-time long service medal of the United Kingdom and the Commonwealth. On 10 April 2012 the medal became known as the Overseas Territories Special Constabulary Medal, and underwent a minor change in design. This reflected the change in the way Britain's remaining colonies were described, they being classed as 'Overseas Territories' from 2002.

References

  1. 1 2 "No. 62529". The London Gazette (Supplement). 11 January 2019. p. 327.
  2. Royal Observer Corps Association: ROC Medal
  3. 1 2 Philip Wittingham. The Royal Observer Corps: An Analysis of the Long Service Medal and other awards. Orders & Medals Research Society Journal, Vol 50 No 1, pages 33-35, March 2011.
  4. 1 2 3 J. Mussell (ed). Medal Yearbook 2015. p. 250. Published by Token Publishing. Honiton, Devon.
  5. 1 2 H. Taprell Dorling. Ribbons and Medals. p. 128. Published A. H. Baldwin & Son, London. 1956.
  6. D. W. Collett. Medal Year Book 1981. p. 216. Published Medal Year Book, Chingford, Essex. 1981.
  7. Dennis Galvin. 1st Type Royal Observer Corps Medal. Orders & Medals Research Society Journal, Vol 48 No 2, page 104, June 2009.
  8. RAF Museum: Medal ceremony Archived 22 October 2008 at the Wayback Machine
  9. Javelin, Journal of 12 Group, ROC Association, item 6. March 2015
  10. Including Observer Commander E.G.J.W Kent, MBE, see Orders & Medals Research Society Journal, Vol 20 No 3, pages 139-140, Autumn 1981.
  11. Royal Observer Corps Association: Chronological history