On This Day…

On the 28th November 1922 Signaller GH Jones earns MSM

On the 28th November Signalman GH Jones earned a Meritorious Service Medal (MSM) for gallantry for fighting off armed brigands.


Historical region of Thrace

The historical region of Thrace in south-east Europe ranges over parts of southern Bulgaria, north-eastern Greece, and north-western Turkey. The division of the region between these three nations took place after the Greco-Turkish War, fought between Greece and the emerging nation of Turkey from 1919 to 1922.

Part of the Allied occupation following the First World War, British forces remained in the region until the summer of 1923. The British force in Turkey, part of the British Army of the Black Sea, was supported by the Army of the Black Sea Signal Company, later known as General Headquarters Signal Company and finally, and most widely, as the Army in Constantinople Signal Company.

The company provided several wireless stations across the region and a despatch service that not only utilised motorcycles but also rail and boat services. It was disbanded in the summer of 1923 when British troops were withdrawn from the region.


Agitation across the region

In the period of crisis just prior to the British withdrawal, gangs of armed men—both politically motivated and outlaws—caused considerable agitation across the region. On 28 November 1922, the Meritorious Service Medal for gallantry was earned by Signalman GH Jones, who fought off two armed brigands while patrolling a telegraph line in eastern Thrace.


About the MSM

The Meritorious Service Medal had been awarded for acts of bravery since 1917 (akin to today’s Queen’s Gallantry Medal) and would do so until it reverted to a wholly meritorious and long service award in 1928.

Between 1920 and 1927 there were 27 recipients of the Meritorious Service Medal for gallantry. Fourteen were for acts of bravery during the First World War and in North Russia in 1918 and 1919, long before the formation of Royal Signals. One was for an act in March 1920 (Serjeant JW Beresford attached to the Indian Signal Corps) and the remaining 12 were for acts after Royal Signals was born. Of these, two were to the Royal Navy and of the ten awards to the Army two were to Royal Signals (Signalman GH Jones and Lance Corporal EJ Dickinson).

The three awards to Royal Signals are of wider interest—they were the only such awards to the British Army for actions in Waziristan (Beresford and Dickinson) and in Thrace (Jones). Beresford’s award was his second, one of only seven bars for gallantry ever awarded.

Signalman Jones was promoted to lance corporal in January 1923 and on his return from Thrace he joined ‘A’ Corps Signals at Leipzig Barracks near Ewshot in Hampshire, but little else is known about him.

Photo: Meritorious Service Medal (© Dix Noonan Webb).

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