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WWI MEDAIILLE D'OR O'LEOPOLD II


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#1 cpatrick

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Posted 18 September 2007 - 08:43 AM

This is one of those things that you tell people about, and they just don't believe the circumstances by which the item was acquired. Such is the case with this award document. Just a couple of years ago, having been frustrated with a "dry-run" on garage sales, I decided to stop at one on a very busy road near Oneida, New York. The skies were about to open up with buckets of rain, so I thought that I ought to make it quick. After a quick skim of the wares that were being sold, I figured that I had stumbled upon just another bust. I stopped and talked to the lady who was running the garage sale, and I had asked her if there were any military items. She said that she hadn't any. Her friend, who lives across town approached, and affirmed with me that I was looking for military stuff. She explains that she has a document that belonged to her grandfather during WWI. My eye brows raise, and I think to myself, "OK, finally a lead, albeit probably something insignificant". She explains that she had kept it in her wallet all these years, and she asked me to accompany her to her car, so that she could retrieve it. I am thinking to myself, "What the heck is this woman talking about? A WWI document that she carries with her????" She goes on to explain that the document belonged to her grandfather, who was in the navy during the First World War. She said that he had switched to the Air Service, and that he had flown King Albert, of Belgium back to his country when the Armistice was signed. As a token of appeciation, King Albert had given the medal, and this award document to her grandfather. Kind of perplexed, I waited to see what she was going to hand me, and what you see pictured is it. I asked her how much? She said, "Name a price, and I'll do better". I shot her the price of $40. She said, "$20 and it's yours!". I was thinking to myself, "You've got to be freakin' kidding me!" And so, I walked away a very happy man. A very happy man that had, and still does, a lot of questions!

She said that she also has, "somewhere", some of his medals, including a Navy medal, (Probably Victory with the Navy clasp) She mentioned some small, foreign medal that he had, and she wasn't sure if it was the one that went with this document, or not. She never contacted me about these things, and I have wondered since how I might go about contacting her. (No name, don't even remember precisely where the sale was!)

At any rate - I know how the stories that families often give are often embellished, and sometimes you have to sift through the lore to find the truth. For all I know, her story could be right on, but I am not convinced.

Firstly, I find it interesting that an Assistant Mechanic would be awarded such a medal, especialy, as the document indicates, in the hand of King Albert himself. (Alas, no autograph) Perhaps W.E. Smith was an aircraft mechanic? If anyone can offer information on him, please let me know.

Secondly, how did King Albert return to his country? Was he indeed flown? If so, obviously Smith was not the pilot, but had to have, in some way, assisted with the return of the King to his country.

Also, what exactly was this medal that this document references? My research could not find very much.

I was advised that the gentleman from Wartime Collectibles might be able to help. Since I know that he is a member of this forum, I thought this would be a good place to start.

So what does everyone think? Was $20 a steal????

Let's unfold this mystery, and let this man's history come to light....

Thanks!!

Chris

PS - I am sorry for the shaddows - the house is pretty sunny today!

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  • king2.JPG

Edited by cpatrick, 18 September 2007 - 08:54 AM.


#2 cpatrick

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Posted 18 September 2007 - 08:44 AM

...

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#3 siege1863

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Posted 18 September 2007 - 09:28 AM

Mystery solved...However, it is not quite like the woman stated.

According to a Washington Post article dated October 5, 1919, King Albert took an aeroplane flight over the City of New York. He had been the guest of area American war veterans. The plane on which he flew was a Navy hydroplane (Martin bomber) piloted by Lt. Commander Thomas B. Hasner. The plane's crew included an Ensign Lamb, Ensign Paul W. Carter, Chief Mechanic W.L. Carleton and Mechanic W.E. Smith!

If you want to PM me with your mailing address, I can send a copy of the article.

#4 cpatrick

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Posted 18 September 2007 - 09:46 AM

Siege1863,

That is some amazing homework that you have done!!!! I would absolutely love to have a copy of the article that you had mentioned. PM will be on its way! Thanks!!

Chris

#5 teufelhund

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Posted 18 September 2007 - 12:13 PM

Hello;
Just have look on these URL...unfortunatly ( for you, not for me) it is in french language
http://users.skynet....F-Leopold2.html
http://www.orderofle...be/fr/cat01.htm

Teufelhund

#6 teufelhund

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Posted 18 September 2007 - 12:18 PM

The medal
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T

#7 cpatrick

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Posted 18 September 2007 - 01:22 PM

T,

Thank you so much for the link on the medal. It doesn't really work as a disadvantage for me, because I am proficient in French, and can speak and understand German better than most third year college students. I am going to get back on the trail of this woman to see if I can get the remainder of the goods - I drove by the house that the sale was at today, and I am almost certain it was the house. Hopefully she can put me in touch with the seller. Great work so far fella's, I just want to thank everyone for their help - with a special thank you to Siege1863 for sending me the copy of the newspaper article detailing this little known event.

Chris

#8 Andrei

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Posted 18 September 2007 - 01:47 PM

Chris,

tu es un gars vraiment chanceux !

Andrei :D

#9 cpatrick

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Posted 18 September 2007 - 02:02 PM

Andrei,

Bebe de competence!! (Sorry, I have an American keyboard - so pardon my grammar... :lol: )

Chris

#10 siege1863

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Posted 18 September 2007 - 03:59 PM

Chris---

I thought you might like to see the clipping without having to wait for it to arrive by mail! The article is rather long, but only one part pertains to the flight. It is posted below. Also, reading further into the article, I noted references to the King presenting the Order of Leopold and other medals to some of the persons he met. No doubt this is when your W.E. Smith got his! The full clipping will go out in tomorrow's mail.


KingAlbertPt1.jpg KingAlbertPt2.jpg

#11 QED4

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Posted 18 September 2007 - 04:31 PM

Here is the listing on the medal form the book Ribbons and Medals by H. Taprell Dorling. It is not to be confused with the Order of Leopold I which is an actual military order.

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#12 Mark M

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Posted 05 September 2009 - 03:25 PM

Forum members:

You are in the MEDALS & DECORATIONS "Reference Section". This area is where posts from the general Medals & Decorations "discussion section" (http://www.usmilitar.....?showforum=83) are moved for permanent retention and education about the history of the various U.S. medals and military decorations.

As time moves forward, some of these posts may have additional information added to them by the moderators of this section. We ask for your input as well, especially in the correction of any erroneous information that may have inadvertently be posted..

We encourage further comments about this post and its content. In order to do so, you will need to start a new post in the general Medals & Decorations "discussion section" (here: http://www.usmilitar.....?showforum=83). And, as needed, we will be pleased to move any new and / or valued information that is derived from your post (and subsequent comments) into this reference area as its own standing post.

Please be advised: posting and / or editing is restricted on this post to moderator's and forum staff.

Sincerely,
Chris / ADMIN

#13 ww1buff

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Posted 08 July 2018 - 07:07 PM

Does anyone know the originator of this thread?  His profile shows as inactive.  I'm finishing up a book om Belgian medals to Americans, so I would like to talk with him.




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