medals of captain smith

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Hello Titanic Fans!

I have a special question concerning the two medals captain smith is wearing in the movie. I am not a "medals man" but I have a neighbour who was a captain in the british navy about ten years ago. He told me that there is something wrong with the medals captain Smith is wearing during the movie:

In the movie catain smith wears two medals:

1. On his left a silver one with a WHITE/GREEN/WHITE ribbon

2. To his right a somewhat golden one with RED/BLUE/RED ribbon

Concerning to my informations http://idt.net/~apli/Manhattanville/smith/Titanic.html the real Captain E.J. Smith was awarded the "Transport Medal" during his time as captain of the Majestic (1895 - 1904). This medal was instituted by King Edward in 1903, and was first awarded to certain officers of the specially chartered transports who had been employed in carrying troops during the South African War (1899 - 1902) and during the China campaign of 1900. The medal hangs from its ribbon (RED/BLUE/RED/BLUE/RED) by a straight silver clasp, and bars inscribed (China 1900) or (S. Africa 1899-1902) were issued. In the movie the medal No. 2 is definitely the "Royal Naval Reserve Decoration (1908), RNRD". It was originally conferred on those who had total officer's service in the RNR of at least 15 years. The decoration consists of an oval medallion in gilt, formed of the Raoyal cyber surrounded by a loop of cable tied at the bottom and surmounted by a crown. The ribbon was originally dark green. This did not show up on a dark blue uniform. In October 1941, the ribbon of the RNDR was therefore altered to dark green with white borders.

Movie Medal 1 must be the Transport Medal but with a wrong ribbon Movie Medal 2 is the RNDR but with a wrong ribbon

Does anybody can help me by this?

A. Breest

-- Axel Breest (bre@grs.de), May 18, 1998

Answers

Basically, the ribbons worn by Bernard Hill in the film are wrong. I seem to remember Hill wearing a RNVR Decoration* with a post-1919 ribbon. Like the RNR Decoration, the ribbon was originally plain green, but was later changed to be more distinctive, and to differentiate between the Royal Naval Reserve and the Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve.

Captain Smith was a serving officer in the former service (RNR), and was a holder of the RD (post nominal letters for the RNR Decoration). His other medal entitlement was the Transport Medal (South Africa). The film's portrayal was nearly right, but not quite, as the ribbon utilised on the latter medal appears to be that of the Sutlej Medal of 1846.

All that money lavished on a blockbuster, only to fail miserably with 2.50's worth of ribbon! Incidently, Smith's medals (unsurprisingly) went down with him.

-- Tony Farrell (a_g_farrell@hotmail.com), September 29, 2004.


* I meant to add that the pre-1919 RNR & RNVR Decorations are identical in appearance.

-- Tony Farrell (a_g_farrell@hotmail.com), September 29, 2004.

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