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Sunday, 19 June 2011

An Introduction to Salvation Army Orders and Medals

The definition of the word order in our context is "the company to which distinguished persons are admitted as an honour or reward". There are four orders in the Salvation Army:

Order of The Founder.
This is the highest award within the Salvation Army and given only to those people whose service above and beyond the call of duty "...would have specially commended (them) to The Army's Founder." It was instituted in 1917 by General Bramwell Booth and the first presentation was made in 1920. The recipient was a British Army private soldier called Hubert Bourn whose Christian witness in France during the First World War was so extensive and practical that he was often called the "unofficial chaplain of the Army". In 1917 the Order of The Founder was to be issued in two classes, namely, First Class for soldiers and local officers and Second Class for officers. The First Class was silver and the Second Class was gold-filled. An enamelled picture of William Booth was the centre piece with "Service" over the top and "Memorable" underneath. The medal was shield shaped and the ribbon was red with five vertical thin blue strips. The words "ORDER OF THE FOUNDER" were inscribed on a bar over the top. The reverse is blank and left for the recipients name to be inscribed. During World War Two a number of changes were made to the medal, in particular the picture of William Booth being impressed on the medal itself. In 1975 the second class was eliminated and the medal only issued in First Class. There have been just over 150 recipients to this international order.

Order of Long Service.
This Order was founded by General Williarn Booth to reward twenty-five years of service as an officer. For thirty-five years service a silver star was attached to the centre of the ribbon. The medal is rather beautifully designed. It is in cross shape with the word "'Long and Faithful Service" in blue enamel. In the middle is a miniature Salvation Army crest. The medal ceased to be awarded after World War Two (except in the U.S.A. where it continued until 1957). Subsequently the Order was signified by an actual ribbon and from the 1960s, by an enamelled badge.

Order of the Silver Star.
This was instituted in America in 1930 by Commander Evangeline Booth. It became an international Order in 1936. It is a sterling silver shield with a blue enamel outline that offsets the five-pointed star. There is another variety with gold in place of the blue. This is given when an officer dies in service and the mother is still alive.

Distinguished Order of Auxiliary Service.
This was again an idea originating from the United States, this time in the early 1940s. The aim was to honour volunteers (Advisory Board members etc.) who had rendered generous service to the Salvation Army. The medal itself is a Maltese Cross with the letters D.O.A.S on each arm. The Salvation Army crest in yellow is in the centre. The reverse is blank ready for inscription and the ribbon is yellow, red and blue.

This is by no means meant to be an exhaustive list of Army decorations of which there are many. Two that are of particular interest though are the World War One medals. General Bramwell Booth ordered an international award to be issued to officers and volunteers personally involved in the War. The medal is rather striking. The obverse has a white enamelled circle with the words "Service in the Great War 1914 - 1919". The centre crest is also white and placed on a red enamel shield which has the words "Mercy Grace Peace" on it. The reverse has "From General Booth to The ribbon is red with two thin yellow strips. The Americans produced their own medal, mainly issued to the Doughnut girls who did such sterling work giving food and drinks to the troops.. The medal shows two figures on the obverse plus an Army hut and shield. The reverse says "World War. For Heroic and Faithful Service To... 1914 - 1919 The Salvation Army". 255 medals were struck.

Before leaving the subject of war medals it is of great interest to note that the Order of Long Service and an M.B.E. were awarded to Major Martha Chippendale. She was awarded the first medal for service from 1891 to 1917. On 7 June 1918 she was awarded the M.B.E. for her work as Assistant Secretary of the Naval and Military League.

Some early medals of the Salvation Army: William Booth's jubilee in 1894 was marked by a `medal' made up of three red rope strands surmounted by a red ribbon and the words "Salvation" and "Jubilee" at the top and bottom of the ribbon. Under the ribbon was attached an eight pointed star with a circle stating "General Booth's jubilee 1844 - 1894" in yellow enamel on a background of blue enamel. The centre piece was red enamel with a raised relief of the General in yellow. It is a very attractive piece and often found as a brooch.

Another early medal is that for the 1904 International Congress. This has the year and occasion depicted in yellow on white enamel as a large top piece and beneath it, a picture of William Booth. The 1914 Congress has a similar style top with the addition of the word "Hallelujah". The ribbon is in the Army colours and there is a beautifully coloured six pointed star at the bottom. The centre piece of the star is a red enamelled cross with the S for Salvation and crossed swords upon it. The whole centre piece is on a light blue background surrounded in yellow and white enamel by the words `7he Salvation Army." Each delegate had their country (or Staff Appointment such as I.H.Q.) named in enamel on the ribbon.

Another type of medal is centennial commemorative. The most common is the 1965 International Commemorative Medal. There are two sizes, the larger having more writing and the date 1865 - 1965 on the obverse. The obverse also has profiles of a female and a male Army officer. The reverse has the two hemispheres interlinked, an inscription and a Bible verse. In 1980 the United States issued a similar commemorative medal with the obverse showing the landing of Salvationists at New York. A third example was issued in 1987 from the Caribbean.

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