WWI centenary: A highly decorated collection

Medals and memorabilia from WW1 and WW2 owned by collector Barry Lomax. (d625a507)
Medals and memorabilia from WW1 and WW2 owned by collector Barry Lomax. (d625a507)

Millions of medals were handed out to the heroes who fought for King and Country during World War One.

Dewsbury Moor’s Barry Lomax has an extensive collection of the different types soldiers received during and after the conflict. But he thinks they deserve more attention than has been given to them in the media during the war’s centenary commemorations.

“No one, as far as I know, has actually shown or talked about medals that were awarded,” Barry said.

Mr Lomax, of Well Lane, has been gathering war memorabilia – some of it very rare – for about 30 years.

“People have given me carrier bags of stuff. A lot disappeared during the Great Depression. Soldiers went to the pawn shop, because silver ones used to be worth about £20, which was probably a month’s pay.”

One prized collection Barry has is that awarded to F Norville of the Royal Navy, who received 12 medals for service in both the First and Second World War, as well as the Japanese Aggression in between.

Also in his possession is a memorial plaque – known as a “death plaque” – given to the family of Dewsbury man Albert Speight after he was killed in action in 1916, aged 32. Commemorated at the Thiepval Memorial in Somme, France, Mr Speight once lived in High Street, Hanging Heaton.

Among the collection is a 1914 Star, of which 400,000 were presented. Mr Lomax’s medal once belonged to Private B Driver of the 2nd Lancashire Fusiliers. These were given mainly to the Expeditionary Force for campaign services in Belgium between August 5 and November 22 that year. Mr Lomax owns 1914-15 Stars, given to 2,350,000 servicemen of all ranks from December 14, 1914. One of his collection was awarded to Private GE Lawton of the Duke of Wellington Regiment.

A British War Medal (1914-1920) handed to 6.5m soldiers to record the successful conclusion of the conflict, once belonging to the Royal Navy’s G Hodson, is also in the collection. These were often given to people who were not strictly fighters, like vehicle engineers or war correspondents.

Mr Lomax has a Victory Medal, which was owned by F Rawlinson of the Red Cross. Often known as the Allied War Medal, they were awarded from 1919 onwards to those who had also received the 1914 Star, 1914-15 Star or British War Medal.

There are also Mercantile Marine Medals, the rear Territorial Medals, British Red Cross Society Medals and First World War Medal to the Special Constabulary.