Smith's Medals


mike disch

He had two medals, neither of which looks like any standard U.S. type medal, one of which was the Transport Medal w/S. Africa clasp.
Anyone have access to duplicates, or know of any source for such, other than expensive custom ordering?
They don't look like American medals because they are both British Medals.

Smith had the Royal Naval Reserve Decoration. This was awarded for 15 years service in the Royal Naval Reserve. Service in war counted double. The medal consisted of the royal cypher, in Smith's case ERVII. In Smith's time the ribbon was dark green. There are a few examples on the Internet. Later versions had white edges on the ribbon to make it stand out from a dark uniform. It's no longer awarded.

His other medal, as you say, is the Transport Medal, awarded for his services during the Boer War.

Copying these medal would be governed by British law. I suspect it's illegal.
Dear Dave:
Thanks for ur response. Yes, I realize they're British medals (RD of the RNR, plus Transport Medal w/S. Africa bar). My question concerns replicas that would pass if you were acting the role of EJ Smith. One EJ personifier I met had American medals, not even vaguely resembling the correct ones. For American movies & plays, actors legitimately wear replicas. They are tons of "Titanica" goodies available at Titanic exhibits, I'm trying to locate somewhere there might be EJ Smith Medal replicas. I do him at the exhibit at the CA Science Ctr in L.A. For the present, we have decided to wear no medals, rather than incorrect ones. When visitors ask about them, I say that I'll have them on at dinner, or for special occasions, but not while working, etc. If anyone knows of a source, please let me know.
Dear Dave

I have moved to this thread, as I note that as a new member I have been guilty of reiterating the description of E.J's medals on another thread, that you had already made here. The point I was making was that Capt. Smith's transport medal were for him, doing what he did as a civilian i.e. Captain of a vessel; the award was not for valour. I bet E.J. got on well with the troops; from what we know of him I cannot imagine that he would have been stand-offish.

Having recently scrutinised the Medal Yearbook - the medal collectors bible - I note that whilst the transport medal was issued ,or presented, in 1903, the RNR Decoration was not instituted till 1908. This means that Capt. Smith would have had the one medal from 1903 to 1907 and presumably received the RNR decoration in 1908. This information could be useful in identifying the approximate date of any photo's of him.

One point I will pick you up on if I may, is the question of copying medals. The market is almost flooded with copies which is a great worry to collectors. All the WW2 stars are available as copies for about £10 each. You can see the concern when the price of a genuine 'Air Crew Europe star' can top £150. With modern methods of copying some copies are almost indiscernible from the genuine examples.

Most medal dealers have lists of so called museum quality copies for sale, so I suppose it must be legitimate to do copies. I have not seen copies of the Transport medal listed, probably because of lack of demand. Firms exist that manufacture copies and perhaps when the centenary of the Titanic sinking arrives the demand for such mementos would justify the costs. The likely purchase price to an individual would, I estimate, be in the region of £30. The RNR Decoration with its fancy scroll work could be harder to copy so I would not like to comment on whether copies of this are feasable.

Regards, Ernie
Hallo Ernie - thank you for those additional observations! I once had a long and fascinating conversation over breakfast in a B&B in Cobh, Ireland with a medal collector who was an author on the subject.

Harold WG Lowe recalled his father's particular pride over his RNR Decoration. It is still in the possession of his family today - one of the three 'gongs' which, so Lowe said, were all he wanted.
Hello Inger

Thanks for your comments. It had occurred to me that other officers on the Titanic, or involved in the disaster, may have also been recipients of either of these medals. Capt. Rostron of the Carpathia was presented with the Transport medal by the King on 4 Nov 1903 - I wonder if it was the same day as Capt. Smith?

My attempt to get the complete medal roll from the National Archives at Kew this week were frustrated - they are closed for stocktaking would you believe. There might be some interesting revelations on this Roll.

Regards, Ernie
Ack! What a nuisance, Ernie - you're not the only one who has been caught in that situation, either. I had one mate who travelled from overseas and had one day allocated to the NA (then the PRO)...only to get out to Kew and find it closed for stocktaking. You are correct that other officers were recipients - I'd have to check my notes to see what/when/how.

The WSL made quite a fuss of the presentation to Lowe, and of his RNR record - can't say he didn't receive it with a bit of ceremony. Oddly, out of the many photographs of Lowe that his family have, none seem to show him wearing his medals (although there is one of him with the ribbons - I'll see if I scan it and get permission to post). His medals were placed on his coffin during his funeral service, and the RD is mentioned on his headstone.
That's interesting Inger

The medal roll will list all the recipients of the Transport medal and will give date of presentation by the King (only a few were), their Rank at the time, name of ship and which Shipping Line.

I have an RNR Decoration, Edward VII version, in my collection - it was in it's original box of issue. I have been told by a dealer that they were issued un-named although some of the recipients would have had their names engraved themselves.

Regards, Ernie
Hello All,
Just to point out, the '97 movie's Smith was wearing the wrong ribbons. Sadly though, the medals went down with Smith.
All Ahead Full!
Shane N. Worthy
Thanks Shane

From what I remember you only see his medals fleetingly in the film. I will watch more carefully next time I run the DVD.

Regards Ernie
I don't have the exact transcript of the entry in front of me (it's buried in papers), but I seem to recall that Lowe's RD RNR entry in the medal roll said something along the lines of 'self-awarded' in the catagory for presentation? I can't remember the exact wording, but I took it to mean that there was no formal RNR presentation (presumably he could plonk it on his own chest!). The WSL put together a decent ceremony to mark the occasion, and I have a couple of reports of the event.

There's something that perhaps you can clear up for me. In addition to the medals, Lowe also had the same set in miniature replicas - these are still with his family, who do not know how he came by them. I'm not sure how much they're scalled down exactly, but at least half-size from memory. Were these common? Were they 'official' (i.e. part of the presentation), or would he have bought them commercially? As they're with a different branch of the family than the original medals and I saw them quite a time apart I didn't get a chance to compare the two sets, but from memory they were decent scaled down reproductions. I haven't really looked into it yet, but if you know the answer I'd be very appreciative!
Inger and Ernie,
I have a picture of Captain Smith with his medals, sorry they are in black and white, (why didn't they have colour in those days?) still I hope it's what you wanted.
Inger, million thanks for your help with those pics.
Frankie Mac
Hello Inger

I will try and find the medal roll for the RNR decoration but probably will not have time on my next visit to Kew.

The miniature medals are not issued as such but are purchased by the recipients to wear on their dress uniforms. How they are worn, varies according to the Country. Unlike the issued medals the recipients could have them made up by Jewellers etc.

In the U.K. miniatures are confined to mess kit and evening dress(white tie and tails). In the U.S. it is quite common to see them worn with dinner jackets. In Europe they are sometimes worn on a chain without ribbon but in the U.K they are worn with miniature ribbons.

There are collectors who specialize in miniatures - they are a fraction of the cost of full size issue. Some are contemporary or modern i.e. made yesterday. I have a dealer's current list and he has two RNR's for sale £10 each , one is George VI issue the other Elizabeth II. They were issued up to the year 2000 following which the medal design changed.

Hope that clarifies

Regards Ernie

Good picture, thank you.

When we have mastered the technology and when we have the time I will post pictures of mine. unfortunately we are in the middle of decorating at the moment, but I will get my wife Pauline's expert help, eventually.

Regards Ernie

Reading again, what you said about the medal being self awarded, it probably came in the post!! I wonder if Lowe's medal was an Edward VII issue? Edward died 1910, I believe, so it could be a King George V issue.

Regards Ernie