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RAF_Louvert

Another Forgotten Award for Courage and Sacrifice Finds a Home

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I've been blessed with another abandoned WWI honour for my modest collection. The old fellow who offered it to me stated it had come to his shop a number of years ago via an estate auction, in a box with an assortment of other items from the Great War: an American officer's overseas cap, a dried and cracked Sam Browne, a pair of tour stripes, a uniform shirt and tie, a set of leggings, and other odds and ends. The family that had held the auction knew nothing about who the box belonged to, only that it had been around for decades and was originally the property of some distant relative that had served in WWI. An all too typical story when it comes to such things.

 

When I saw the little case that contained the item I could hardly wait to open it.

 

 

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If the symbol of courage and bravery which nested inside was in any condition approaching that of it's container I was in for a rare treat.

 

 

 

I gently lifted the lid and set it to the side, and my heart raced!

 

 

 

For there, sitting cushioned by a quilted liner, was a pristine Order of Leopold II, with Crossed Swords; one of Belgium's highest honours for heroism in combat.

 

 

 

 

 

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This is the same award that was presented to such rare pilots as Belgium's own Willy Coppens and Jans Olieslagers, as well as American ace Charles John Biddle, author of one of my all-time favorite books, "The Way of the Eagle".

 

 

 

OOLII_003.jpg

 

 

 

I am very pleased, while at the same time very humbled, to have this in my collection. Pleased that it found its way to me, and humbled when I imagine the act of valour it must have taken to earn such an honour. And, I am saddened. Saddened that such an act is now long forgotten by any who knew the man that was thus honoured; saddened further that the man himself has been forgotten. I know many see these old medals as little more than trinkets with no value apart from what they will fetch on the open market, as was just discussed in the recent thread about the selling of Pte Sidney Godley's Victoria Cross. For me however, these unnamed and forgotten medals are deserving of my respect as they hold a reverence still for the unremembered sacrifices made, and the unremembered men who made them. I know a good number of you here have very similar feelings about this and I count myself lucky to be amongst you.

 

 

Here's to all those now long forgotten by this world, who gave themselves to a cause they believed worth fighting for. Let's drink to their spirit! :drinks:

 

 

Lou

 

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Lou, I understand all of your feelings you express here.

The sadness about the original owner, who is obviously forgotten by his own people.

The pity, that no one remembered his special deeds, which resulted in such a high honour.

But also the accelerated heartbeat, when you saw the box!

And this is what shows me again, that the order could not possibly have found a better new owner.

Again I believe - not you have found this order - the order has found you.

I know you will look at it countless times again, and enjoy having "saved it from this transitory world".

:good::drinks:

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What was politically important yesterday--and wars are mostly the result of either politics or religion--likely won't be hundred years later. I doubt you'll find many who even familiar with Gavrilo Princip, let alone a Belgian medal. Life moves forward; it's natural.

 

Very cool medal.

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Congratulations Lou. I echo Olham's sentiment that it has found the best home it could in the circumstances.

 

I hazard that some research and inquiry among Belgian WW1 historians, many of whom post on various fora of which you'll already be aware, could close to a fair certainty regarding to whom that medal was awarded.

 

Two minutes on Google took me to a list of 14 Knights of the Order of Leopold II. Of course that isn't necessarily comprehensive, but as the crossed swords indicate a wartime award that narrows it down further.

 

If the other items mentioned by your correspondent lend any provenance then one of the named recipients was Nelson M. Holderman... imagine if you could prove it were his!

 

I wish you joy of your acquisition, Sir.

Edited by Dej

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I'll raise a glass with you and Olham, Lou! :drinks: To the brave soul who merited this honor! And shame on us as a people for letting the recipient's act of valor slip into obscurity.

 

Most of us today, I daresay, would be curled up in a ball and crying like a little girl if we had to face what many of these men faced.

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Well Lou the award reached a home where it is valued and treasured. I am afraid it is as JFM says time marches on. I have been searching out family histroy and I now wish I had spent more time talking with my Grandparents and others. I spend alot of time reading history books and people wonder why? I tell them I cannot know where I am going until I know where I have been. I t is unfortunate that so many young ones care not for the sacrifices of the many before them. When I went back to school to become a Pharmacist the people who helped me wanted me to become a History teacher. I told them it was imposible because so many are not interested in our history. I blame this on the why history was taught for so many years. Just memorize the dates get it down on the test and forget it. Never a discussion why or what really happened. If you are not born with the desire to learn about or fortunate enough to have someone that instil history upon you, you miss so much. I see you have returned from under the Pacific to the skies of Flanders.

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Yes, it definitely found a good home with you, Lou. A very nice medal. A Knight class, if I'm not mistaken. :drinks:

 

But JFM is right - life moves forward. WW1 is ancient history now, because a century is such a long time for us human beings. That's just how things are, and always have been. It's always been a very small minority of people who try to remember and study such things decades and centuries after the events took place.

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