WW1 medal investiture mystery


18 March 2015
imports_FTRE_louise-oconnor-ancestor-robert-pead_21263.jpg WW1 medal investiture mystery
Many months ago in Family Tree (October 2014 issue) we published a question from reader, Louise O'Connor, who had two ch

Many months ago in Family Tree (October 2014 issue) we published a question from reader, Louise O'Connor, who had two chaps on her family tree called Robert Pead, both of whom served in WW1. And one of whom was awarded the Military Medal. Which man was the wartime hero though - Louise's grandfather, or 'just' a distant cousin? Our expert gave Louise some handy hints, and - on reading the question in the magazine - fellow reader, and dedicated military expert Graham Caldwell stepped in to save the day and get to the bottom of this mystery...

Louise writes:

On 9 November 1917 the King held an investiture at Bristol and presented medals to more than 100 soldiers, including the Military Medal (MM) to Sergeant Robert Pead, 17th Battalion London Regiment. I wondered whether this man might be my Robert Pead, and whom my great-aunt Florence claimed went back to try and save one of his wounded brothers.

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I was aware that there were two Robert Peads in my family tree (one my great-grandfather and the other a distant cousin), and had found both their medal index cards, but had not been surprised to find both soldiers’ service records were missing. To try to determine which Robert had received the MM I needed to answer the question about how to find out which Robert Pead was in which regiment and why would the King present the MM in Bristol to an ordinary infantry sergeant? So I wrote into Family Tree and Simon Fowler provided a very good explanation on the criteria for awarding the MM, plus that by 1917 war weariness had set in and an attempt was made to improve morale by temporarily returning cited recipients of gallantry awards back to Britain, when the royal family would be trotted out for very large and well-publicised special investiture events in different major cities. As for any further research Simon suggested that the next step was for me to glean what the 17th Battalion’s war diary might reveal.

It was here that fellow reader, Graham Caldwell, kindly contacted me after reading my letter and offered his assistance. You can read about the research steps we undertook on the Family Tree blog at www.family-tree.co.uk/category/blog. While Great-Aunt Florence’s account had morphed over the years, we could see how it originated and I am extremely grateful for Graham’s additional research.

To read Louise's impressively detailed account of the research steps that she and Graham took, click here.