The First World War medals pictured below (ILKEM: 2013.1/e-h) were awarded to Albert Edwin Smith for his military service during the War. Albert was born in Long Eaton and lived there his entire life. With the outbreak of war in 1914 he volunteered for service and joined the South Notts. Hussars regiment. In 1915 the regiment sailed to Salonika (today known as Thessalonika), Greece, as part of the British Salonika Force. This force was sent at the request of the Greek Prime Minister to assist the Serbian military in their fight against Bulgarian aggression. Albert stayed in Salonika until August 1918 when he was relocated to France to serve on the Western Front where he remained until the Armistice was signed in November 1918.
In the years following the War Albert was awarded the 1914-15 Star, British War Medal and Victory Medal. These three medals were given to thousands of British servicemen and were affectionately known as ‘Pip, Squeak and Wilfred’ when awarded together. It is believed that these names derived from a popular cartoon strip published by the Daily Mirror in the 1920s that contained three characters called ‘Pip’, ‘Squeak’ and ‘Wilfred’. Albert also received the Military Medal which was given to servicemen who had displayed gallantry and devotion to duty when under fire in battle on land. It is thought that Albert was awarded the Military Medal for the bravery he showed whilst fighting in the trenches of the Western Front towards the end of the War.
Albert Smith’s story is just one of many that portray the bravery shown by local men whilst serving during the Great War. These courageous men may now have passed into history but the objects and possessions they left behind and that are treasured by relatives serve to remind ourselves and future generations of the sacrifices that they made one hundred years ago in service of their country.
Albert’s medals are currently being displayed as part of Erewash Museum’s Long Eaton: World War One exhibition at Long Eaton Town Hall. This is one of four community exhibitions across the Erewash Borough that form part of our Local Heritage, Local Lives project. The other three exhibitions are:
These four exhibitions can be viewed at the venues between February and August 2015.