Correspondence about the Estimated Cost of War Medals & Clasps 1919 (also includes information on the organisation and costs of A.G. 10 Medals Branch)

Introduction/Analysis (followed by the sources)

Aside from the proposal from 1919 to award a medal to all who were involved in Home Service (from soldiers who never went overseas to  V.A.D.s), the chief interest in the material below concerns the organisation of A.G. 10, particularly with regard to the employment of the large number of women (peaking later in 1921, see the A.G. 10 1921 War Office List entry here). 102 women workers were in the Carding Section, searching for or filing 6,000 cards per day. They were the search engine of A.G.10, but also on the industrial side of the Medals Branch there was a  forewoman, included with the number of what are either called viewers or checkers, with another 20 women acting as ‘Medal Stampers’ (again under a forewoman). Mention is also made of 130 Girl Clerk and Woman Clerks, many of who as we have seen worked in the Carding Section.

A comment that the Women and Girl Clerks have been found ‘more suitable’ then men for card indexing and filing, but that they could be dispensed with once the work was reduced, in order to retain more disabled ex-servicemen in employment in the Branch at a time when it was difficult for the ex-servicemen to get employment, reflect the attitude taken after the War in the War Office (and more generally, see the 1921 speech by Sir William Robertson here) to female staff.

Another area covered by the documents is the allocation of staff to particular medals, with the proposal to reduce the Gallantry and Long Service etc. medal section reflecting the decreasing importance of this work versus the massive expansion of work on Campaign Medals from 1919 onwards.

Overall the need to defend the increased staff against Treasury inspired criticism of the efficiency and effectiveness of A.G. 10 is reflected in the spelling out of organisational economies made by the Branch, such as a claimed 50% reduction in cost achieved by the movement of the Industrial part of A.G. 10 from Woolwich Dockyard to a shared building at Pilgrim Street with the clerical part of A.G. 10. The emphasis in the documents is on the economy achieved by centralising the stamping and manufacture of medals, with a consequent increase in time and loss of efficiency if the number of staff is either reduced or the work of stamping delegated to the Army Record Offices.

Transcribed from The National Archives (TNA) WO 32/4970 DECORATIONS AND MEDALS: General (Code 50(A)): Estimated cost of award of medals and clasps, staff required to effect issues
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