The Early Years
The forerunner of the Gallantry Medallists’ League was the Distinguished Conduct Medal League, whose origins can be traced to 1931 when Bob Moyse MC DCM from Lancashire first founded the League. This highly decorated soldier earned the DCM whilst serving with the Lancashire Fusiliers in 1917 during a raid an an enemy position near Boeshinghe. In 1918 he transferred to the Essex Regiment and was awarded the Military Cross in August 1918. He would also be awarded the BEM in 1956 for his work with the 9th West Lancashire (Newton-le-Willows) Home Guard Battalion. Bob Moyse felt that due to the period of national economic downturn and unemployment resulting from the great depression, there was a need for an organisation to look after the welfare and well being of holders of the Distinguished Conduct Medal who had been decorated during theSudan campaigns, the Boer War and the First World War. The motto ‘United We Stand’ was adopted for the new organisation and the Aims and Objects of the League were published to the membership in January 1932 as follows:
- To raise a fund whereby DCMs or their dependents in distress can be assisted. A Committee of Investigation has been appointed, and no genuine cases, as far as funds permit, go unaided.
- To form a Labour Bureau. Members unemployed will inform the League and all principal business organisations will be approached asking for vacancies on their Pay Roll to be filled from the ranks of the League.
- To, so far as possible, insure every member against sickness or accidents. (A leading Assurance Society has favourably entertained this proposition).
The day-to-day business of the League was run by a Chairman, a General Secretary and a Committee, all of whom had served during the Great War of 1914-18. The League was also fortunate to enjoy royal patronage; the first Patron was Mary, Princess Royal. There are few surviving records relating to the formation of the League however by January 1932, the membership was over 1,500 strong. Local branches were formed at Manchester, Oldham, Derby, Bolton, Nottingham, Liverpool, Wakefield, Blackpool and Bristol to manage the League on a regional basis. Each branch was made responsible for its own fund-raising. Some branches had a simple draw, others had dinner dances and some held ‘dug-out’ suppers. The London Branch preferred the last type where the participants often wore tin hats and ate dinner by candlelight. The League held a Muster in London every year where members would gather for a weekend social event. A formal dinner would be held on the Saturday evening. On Sunday, the various branches, each with their Standards, paraded on Horse Guards Parade where the Chairman would inspect them. After an open-air service, the League marched to the Cenotaph to lay wreaths, often with the Royal Patron in attendance to take the salute.
A League magazine, titled “The Ribbon”, was introduced in January 1932 as a means of keeping the membership informed of social activities as well as publishing articles of general military interest. The Ribbon was published monthly and sold through all principal booksellers and newsagents. It was also sold direct from the publishers at Queen’s Chambers, 49 Princess Street, Manchester. The subscription rates were 7/- per annum post-free, whilst a single copy could be purchased post free for 8d. A foreign subscription was set at 10/6 post-free. The first edition included a message from the founder of the DCM League, “I warmly congratulate the originators of “The Ribbon” on their enterprise and, might I say courage, in undertaking such a colossal task as the publication of this journal. Such a journal as this must greatly enhance the interest, which I am sure has never flagged, in our fighting forces of the present day, and carry one back to the days when we were fighting for the glory of the country. Many escapades in the late war are best forgotten, but there are others that must never be allowed to be forgotten. This journal will be welcome to old and young. There shall be no glorification of war, but we shall not be permitted to forget those great acts of sacrifice of men, the majority in the blossom of their youth, who went to their deaths with boyish laughter which hid the serious side of war from their eyes. Men who made jokes about the missiles of death, and as misery was piled upon misery and hardship upon hardship, smiled and swore but they did not fail us. They marched into horrors unspeakable, through the gateways of pain into the Great Unknown, and when we read the pages of this journal, our thoughts will revert back to those gallant comrades and their memory will live for ever. In the rejoicing of victory there is solemnity, we must keep faith to our gallant dead, and by this faith we hope for peace. The Editorial of “The Ribbon” have filled a long-felt want in that we shall have a journal, cleanly written, setting forth these acts of history, acts that made the British Empire the envy of every country. As founder of the DCM League, I feel a great pride in being associated with this journal and I feel that every reader should join me in saying to the editorial, THANK YOU”.
On joining, new members were issued a card by their Branch Secretary that not only included the Branch By-Laws, but also included a section to record the payment of annual subscriptions. The Branch Treasurer had the onerous task of checking that their members had paid their dues each year, initialling these cards as proof of the subscriptions being paid. In 1948, the annual subscription was 2/6d but this was increased to 3/6d in 1950. An enamelled lapel badge was introduced for members after the war at the cost of 2/6d. A DCM tie was designed and introduced, the exact date of which cannot be discovered in the archives, however several members were photographed wearing the tie during the 1952 London Muster.