Closed Until Further Notice

Regrettably, we must announce that Charing Cross Collectors Market will be closed until further notice. Given the recent rapid developments with the COVID-19 virus, we must prioritise the health and safety of our dealers, our customers and, indeed, the general public. We will obviously monitor the situation closely and only open again when we feel it is safe to do so. This will be announced on our blog and all our social media channels. In the meantime, please look after yourselves everyone, follow all the relevant NHS guidance and we’ll see you again soon.

Foreign Awards

Completing our brief overview of the six major types of medals is a look at France’s croix de guerre. Although it has no direct equivalent in the UK medal hierarchy, it falls somewhere between the Military Medal and Mentioned in Dispatches. Also issued by the Belgian government, it was awarded in both world wars and French examples are dated on the reverse by means of a fitted disc.

Interestingly, this was awarded by both the British and collaborationist Vichy regime during WWII. As ever, sold as part of a group with relevant documentation identifying the recipient add at least £50 to the value of the piece (and possibly even many hundreds depending on the action) but single original medals can be bought from just £15.

The 369th in action at Séchault in France, 29 September 1918

Famous recipients include the writer Samuel Beckett, several daring SOE agents like Violette Szabo and Yvonne Baseden and the mainly African American 396th Infantry Regiment, known as the Harlem Hellfighters, for their tremendous valour in the Great War.

Unofficial Medals

WWI tribute medal

Although they obviously don’t attract as much interest as official medals awarded by the sovereign, ‘tribute’ medals like this one are nevertheless an important part of the historical record. The earliest ones were struck after some of Britain’s nineteenth century wars but they were issued in great numbers following World War I. Many towns and even villages had a committee which raised funds to send Christmas gifts and treats to soldiers in the trenches. When the war ended the leftover money was often used to buy a permanent mark of gratitude for returning soldiers – and even the widows of those who didn’t. There was no standard design for these so the range is very wide but the town crest will usually give a location at least. Unfortunately, many bear nothing which could indicate who the recipient was.

However, the tribute medal shown here is rather different. In the first instance, it was paid for by a private individual, Mrs Cunliffe-Owen. In 1914 she had been instrumental in raising the 24th (Service) and 2nd (Sportsman’s) Battalions in London. They trained in Romford, Essex. Her signature is on the back of the medal (dated 1915) and the man’s service number (2656) allows us to trace his war record. Private George Joseph Burge of Portsmouth of the 24th Battalion Royal Fusiliers was later awarded the Military Medal for bravery in 1918 before being killed in action just a month before the armistice.

Introducing the New Items page!

We’ve just added a new page called “New Items” which you can find here, or along the top navigation bar.

This page which be updated every week with new items that will be at the market that week. The New Items page will also have the previous week’s special items listed so you can check with the trader if they are still trading that item.

South Hailsville School Agate Road, Canning Town, London – September 1940

Michael and James Burroughs from ‘Anything Military’ are exhibiting a bronze hand bell from Agate Road School at the market this week. Measuring approximately 10cmx10cm

The dockside school suffered the biggest single loss of life in the Docklands when over 600 children died in the bombing of the docks in September 1940. This event was kept out of the news for 70 years because,at the time, it was decided not to evacuate the dockside community of Silvertown and North Woolwich as it was decided that it would be bad for morale. Evacuation was eventually carried out in secret after this tragic event.