THE MISSING MEDAL
By Roger Brunton
Some of my wife’s ancestors were wealthy enough to live in a large house with its own private chapel in the parish church. No such luck for my lot, but there is an ancestral portrait in possession of my cousin’s son who is the latest in the line bearing the name Thomas. The portrait is of Corporal of Horse Thomas Brunton of the 1st Life Guards and shows him wearing dress uniform. It was painted some thirteen years later in 1846, so this special uniform must have been folded and put away in a chest, it looks so smart.
The real problem with the painting is that it shows only one medal and that has clearly been painted on later. Thomas appears on the medal roll for Waterloo, where he had taken part in the great cavalry charge of the Union and Household Brigades and he had taken full advantage of the associated privilege whereby that one day on the battlefield counted as two years’ service, so he was able to retire after 23 years in the army. There was much resentment amongst the many who had fought elsewhere during the wars with France and so the eventual medal, the Military General Service Medal 1793-1814 was issued in 1847, by which time many potential recipients were dead. It is this that Thomas is wearing, with its two clasps for the battles of Vittoria and Toulouse.
s some evidence that Thomas did not feel any great enthusiasm for Waterloo. There are accounts of the Waterloo Day celebrations in the mid-1840s at Ripon, near where his lived and the names of Waterloo Veterans are listed, they sitting in a place of honour with sprigs of laurel in their caps, but Thomas is not among them. Quite recently I learned that, for many years 1st. Life Guards preferred to celebrate on the previous day the fight at Genappe during the retreat from Quatre Bras.
Has this anything to do with the absence from the portrait of the Waterloo Medal? The medal itself was certainly in the family’s possession until early in the twentieth century. We shall never know, but it continues to niggle.
It was our AGM at the last meeting, so by historical tradition the retiring Chairman had invited a speaker from his charity for his year to tell us what it was, in this case the Macular Society, for which we raised the handsome sum of £850.
To tell us about the Society Ian had invited Lorna Blakeney, Brian’s wife to explain what the disease is and does and how the Society helps those of us suffering. It tends to be a disease that attacks the elderly like us, when the retina at the back of the eye degenerates and one loses sight of details. There are two common types, ‘wet’ and the more common ‘dry’ in which the cells fail to distinguish and to blur colours. The more dramatic wet type can strike possibly over night, sometimes just starting with an itch. Its most obvious result is a near-total loss of the vital central vision of our eyes, enough that Lorna has to use a white stick.
What is the cause, possibly apart from long life? Smoking? (Of course); Heredity; possibly diet with too much kale but this is very uncertain. Lorna just sat down after munch and could only see a splodge, but rubbing her eyes didn’t help and it got worse over the next fortnight. Her optometrist daughter arranged for her to see a specialist who confirmed wet macular in one eye and the other might well follow, which it did some five years later.
So, get treatment as soon as possible. An injection into the eyeball can work and stop bleeding, but follow up with a monthly inspection.
The Age-related Macular Society is a charity to help patients – free. They teach you how to cope, train you to read as well as possible; recommend talking books and how to obtain them; offer the use of a video amplifier and many other helps. They are also deeply involved in research. There are over 500,000 cases in England who are, or should be seeing specialists.
Today:John Glenist tells us about the excellent work of
the Sussex Air Ambulance Service.
May 2nd:Alan & Vera Baker go into history with tales of the
British Music Hall.
June 6th: Neil Sadler tells us of a policeman’s lot, or “when is a
bomb not a bomb?
July 4th: R M Skelton, MBE, is the Principal Doorkeeper to the
House of Lords, so he should have lots of tales to tell us.
The AGM and other news
There’s more to the Annual General Meeting than just finding someone to do the various jobs that abound in running a Club like ours. Fortunately, as with most Clubs, we can usually rely on the current holder of a job be ready to continue doing the work:
— Our retiring Chairman Ian Payne told us that he had enjoyed his year in the Chair, thanking the various Officers and the members for their friendship and service. He mentioned in particular the splendid outings and the fine speakers and looked forward to a possible visit to Herstmonceux castle.
— Our Treasurer Roger Davis reported that we are in the black insofar as finance is, but he thinks we shall probably have to review some charges upwards, certainly keep an eye on them.
–– Secretary Dennis Evans had kept us in touch with various other Clubs and had kept excellent minutes of all meetings. He also said just how much a Club like ours relied on new members, so recommend us to our friends!
— With duties to organising outings and also as Web-master, Jim Mulvey deserved special thanks from many members. He just hoped that our Newsletter Editor would continue to send his copy to the Web on time…
–-Almoner Hugh Roberts reminded us to tell him of sick members & wives.
— Graham Fox as Transport chief thanked his drivers for a job well done.
— Speaker organiser Phil Munson was thanked for the really hard work he
puts into finding such an excellent list of speakers to liven our post-dinner times, month after month.
— Luncheons, organised by Andrew Kellard proved more than acceptable each time we sat down to table and here we should thank the kitchen staff for producing such good fare and the lovely waitresses for their caring services to us all.
Then to the election of Officers for the coming year:
As expected all current Officers were prepared to continue into the new year, but who to be the new Chairman? There was only one volunteer and that was Reg Baker, prepared to do a second term in this important role and continue to keep our membership lists up to date. Congratulations and thanks to Reg for services done in the past and for his future in our Club.
The other electable position, that of Vice-Chairman was again left open because nobody was prepared to rehearse his place as Chairman for the following year.
As usual, after the AGM, we list the Officers for the coming year:
ChairmanReg Baker020 8660 6662
ChairmanIan Payne01737 554 449
SecretaryDennis Evans01342 836 163
TreasurerRoger Davis020 8668 4549
Outings/EventsJim Mulvey01737 555 974
Web-MasterJim Mulvey01737 555 974
LuncheonsAndrew Kellard01737 554 055
SpeakersPhil Munson01273 464 230
TransportGraham Fox01737 556 092
AlmonerHugh Roberts020 8660 3836
MembershipReg Baker020 8660 6662
AuditorEugene Lightbody020 8660 2260
Ties & BadgesDennis Evans01342 836 163
Newsletter EditorIan Scales01737 553 704