HL Deb 07 May 1855 vol 138 cc176-8

begged to ask the noble Lord the Minister of War how it happened that the issue of the medals for Alma, Balaklava, and Inkerman had been so long postponed? The fortune of War had already carried to their last account many of the gallant men who had helped to gain the victories won in the Crimea, and he hoped, therefore, that rewards intended to be bestowed upon them would not be longer delayed.


was able to inform the noble Lord that in the course of a week or two the Crimean medal, with the clasps for Alma, Balaklava, and Inkerman, would be ready; while he could assure their Lordships that no one regretted more than he did the delay which had taken place in their preparation. With regard, however, to the higher honours to be conferred on the officers, namely, the decoration of the Order of the Bath, the delay which had arisen in bestowing them originated in the, as yet, non-fulfilment of the prescribed rules of the Order. For, as their Lordships might be aware, according to those rules, it was requisite that the names of all the officers who were to receive the decoration should first be mentioned in the public despatches, and then inserted in the Gazette. In the present case that had not, up to this time, been done, and hence the delay. But, in order to prevent any further delay taking place, he had written to Lord Raglan, calling upon him to forward a despatch, enclosing the names of all the officers whom he considered entitled to receive that distinction.


hoped that for the future they would learn a lesson from their enemies. Their Lordships might perhaps be aware that at the present moment there were in London more than one Russian medal, with the stamp of "Inkerman" upon it, granted to Russian soldiers for distinguished bravery in that action. Now that circumstance proved that in other countries greater dispatch could be used in the preparation of medals than in England.


said, the fact of the Russian army having already received a medal for Inkerman was easily explained. It was well known that a medal for Sebastopol was actually prepared at the moment of the battle, and all that the authorities had to do was to affix the name of Inkerman to the medal with means existing on the spot.


hoped that due caution would be observed in the distribution of the honours of the Bath. The rule which required that the names of the persons who received the Order of the Bath should have appeared in the Gazette was adopted with the view to prevent that honour being conferred, except in cases of most distinguished service; but, in the present instance, he dreaded very much, unless that consideration was kept in view, the mention of names in the Gazette would be far more indiscriminate than upon former occasions. In the Peninsular war the Duke of Wellington was most careful only to report the names of those for that honour who had done some especial service. By degrees, however, the practice of mentioning names in the Gazette had come to be so extended, that the published list was tantamount simply to a statement of the officers engaged in the particular service recorded. He was much mistaken, however, if a perseverance in the practice would not tend to render the honour valueless in the eyes of those on whom it was conferred; while, at the same time, he could not help thinking that this calling upon Lord Raglan to state in a despatch the names of all the officers whom he deemed worthy of the honour, would conduce to increase the mischief rather than otherwise. If it was determined that all officers who had distinguished themselves should receive the decoration of the Bath, the best course would have been to advise Her Majesty to issue a new statute providing for their appointment, and dispensing with the particular portion of the original statute which caused the present delay. Such a course would have been by no means unprecedented, as especial statutes had constantly been issued where the ordinary ones were not sufficient to meet the demands of the moment.

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