The intentions to document this information are long standing in that they go back some two decades to the early/mid 1990’s, just a few years before the subject of this site, James Kitchener Heath passed away.

As is the case in so many families in which a generation experienced war and all its traumas, certain aspects of service are known, but all too often the details are sketchy and disjointed. Add into this mix the passage of time and the result is invariably a collection of stories and fragments of memories accompanied by a handful of fragile and faded documents (if you are lucky) that represent the sum of information relating to the most extraordinary period in a soldier’s life. This was certainly the case in our family..... and it’s not much to go on.

In February 1995, my Father and I struggled to put together a potted service history to be read by the cleric presiding over my Grandfather’s funeral. At this point I decided to take steps to fill in some of the gaps as best I could.... sadly now without the benefit of first hand testimony.

A well known turn of phrase, ‘written on the back of a fag packet’ is defined by the Collins on-Line dictionary as something ‘composed or formed quickly and without detailed analysis or research’. As far as first hand source material for this history is concerned, no better a description could be made. The details gleaned from my Grandfather in brief (and often emotional) discussions in the 1990’s are summarised as a list of place names written in an old man’s shaky handwriting on the back of a standard envelope! (this will feature later). On the upside, a standard envelope is approximately twice the size of a cigarette packet, which immediately doubles the amount of information to work with!

By my own admission, this site is a little self-indulgent, being of primary interest to myself, my mother, my children and a handful of relatives still living in Staffordshire. In addition, it may be that the information presented here will be read by others outside of the family who have a passing interest in military or family history.

I would welcome any comments/suggestions or dare I say it relevant information to contact me.

Sunday, 26 January 2014

Jim Heath's Campaign Medals

By virtue of the role he played in both the UK and Europe whilst in uniform he was awarded four medals.

The Defence Medal

Awarded both to members of the auxiliary services (fire service, air raid precautions, police and ambulance services) as well as military personnel. The eligibility period ran from 3rd September 1939 to the 2nd September 1945 during which 3 years UK service or six months overseas in an area susceptible to air attack were necessary to quality (he satisfied both of these requirements). The head of George VI appears on one side, whilst the design of the reverse warrants some explanation. In the centre is an oak tree with two rampant lions on either side facing each other. The lions are depicted roaring upwards their right paws are protecting the tree whilst their left paws are raised protecting the tree and the Crown against attack from the air.

The ribbon consists of bars in three colours representing:

The green grass of England (green)
The flames from bombing (orange) and
The imposed nightly blackout (black)

The War Medal

Awarded to military personnel who served in the Second World War. It had the same qualifying period as The Defence Medal, but to receive the award a service period of only 28 days was required. Again, one side depicts George VI. The other side shows a two headed, beaked dragon upon which stands  a triumphant lion.

The ribbon has bars of red, white and blue.

The 1939-1945 Star

To be awarded this medal it was necessary to serve in an operational area for 6 months in the 3rd September 1939 to the 2nd September 1945 period.

The ribbon has three equal bars of dark blue, red and light blue representing the Navy, Army and Air Force.

The France and Germany Star

Awarded to those who served in France, Belgium, Holland and Germany between D-Day and VE Day (i.e. 6th June 1944 to 8th May 1945).

The ribbon has five equal stripes of blue, white, red, white and blue which represent the national colours Britain, France and Holland. Belgium it seems lost out in this design!

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