Victory Medal (aka Inter Allied Victory Medal) – a medal of the First World War

CAMPAIGN MEDAL AWARDED TO WILLIAM HUNTER (1861-1937) – GREAT WAR

Victory narrowThe Victory Medal was also called the Inter Allied Victory Medal. It was awarded to those received the 1914 Star or the 1914-15 Star and, with certain exceptions, to those who were awarded the British War Medal. The medal was never awarded singly.

Recipients of the Victory Medal were those having been mobilised in any of the fighting services and having served in any of the theatres of operations, or at sea, between midnight 4th/5th August, 1914, and midnight, 11th/12th November, 1918.

Women who served in any of the various organisations in a theatre of operations were eligible, such as nurses, members of the Women’s Royal Naval Service, Women’s Army Auxiliary Corp, Women’s Royal Air Force, canteen staff and members of the many charitable services, also received the medal.

Victory narrowThe Victory Medal – a medal of the First World War – was established on 1 September 1919, and more than 6,334,522 were awarded. The medal was designed by the Aberdeen-born sculptor William McMillan (1887-1977).

Victory Medal - awarded to William Hunter (Centre for Research Collections, Coll-1146)

Victory Medal – awarded to William Hunter (Centre for Research Collections, Coll-1146)

The medal is a bronze disk, 36 mm in diameter.  The ribbon is 32 mm wide and coloured (from the centre outwards) red, yellow, green, blue and violet merged into a rainbow pattern. On the medal obverse is the winged, full length figure of Victory, with her left arm extended and holding a palm branch in her right hand. The remaining space is left bare.

Victory Medal - awarded to William Hunter (Centre for Research Collections, Coll-1146)

Victory Medal – awarded to William Hunter (Centre for Research Collections, Coll-1146)

On the reverse of the medal is the inscription: THE GREAT WAR FOR CIVILISATION, 1914-19. This is surrounded by a wreath. Those personnel who were ‘mentioned in despatches’ between 4 August 1914 and 10 August 1920 were able to wear an oak leaf on the ribbon.

Victory Medal - oak leaf on ribbon awarded to William Hunter who was 'mentioned in despatches'. (Centre for Research Collections, Coll-1146)

Victory Medal – oak leaf on ribbon awarded to William Hunter who was ‘mentioned in despatches’ (Centre for Research Collections, Coll-1146)

The Victory Medal shown here was the one awarded to Edinburgh University alumnus William Hunter who served in Serbia during the Great War. Hunter was President of the Advisory Committee, Prevention of Disease, in the Eastern Mediterranean and Mesopotamia (Gallipoli, Egypt, Salonika, Malta and Palestine), and he also served with the Eastern Command, 1917-1919. His service is described in greater detail in the May 2015 post to Untold Stories, ‘William Hunter & the Order of St. Sava’.

The Medal is contained within the collection of Medals, awards and decorations of William Hunter (1861-1937) curated by the Centre for Research Collections (CRC), Edinburgh University Library, Coll-1146.

Victory narrowDr. Graeme D. Eddie, Assistant Librarian Archives & Manuscripts, CRC

Sources: (1) Online resources. (2) British battles and medals. Lawrence L. Gordon. London: Spink, 1979. Ref. .7372(42) Gor. (Closed stack)

William Hunter (1861-1937) & the Order of St. Sava

EDINBURGH UNIVERSITY ALUMNUS SERVED IN SERBIA IN CHARGE OF A MEDICAL MISSION AND EARNED THE ORDER OF ST. SAVA, ONE OF SERBIA’S HIGHEST HONOURS

BannerDuring the First World War, and just shy of 100-years ago in June 1915, Colonel Sir William Hunter, an Edinburgh University alumnus, was appointed as a Grand Officer of the Serbian Order of St. Sava.

The Serbian Order of St. Sava - medallion/badge with ribbon. Coll-1146 - Medals, awards and decorations of William Hunter

The Serbian Order of St. Sava – Medallion/badge with ribbon. Coll-1146 – Medals, awards and decorations of William Hunter

Hunter had been serving in Serbia with the British Military Sanitary Mission and there he developed de-lousing techniques to control typhus. In Serbia he was associated with the  use of the ‘Serbian barrel’ for disinfection and the eradication of lice.

The Serbian Order of St. Sava - detail. Coll-1146 - Medals, awards and decorations of William Hunter

The Serbian Order of St. Sava – Detail. Coll-1146 – Medals, awards and decorations of William Hunter

William Hunter was born on 1 June 1861 in Ballantrae on the Ayrshire coast. He was educated at Ayr Academy, and then studied Medicine at Edinburgh University, graduating in 1883 with M.B., C.M. (1st Class) 1883, and M.D. (Gold Medal) 1886. He served as a house physician at the Royal Infirmary, Edinburgh, and as a Physican to the Western Dispensary, Edinburgh. He had also studied overseas at Leipzig in 1884 with a grant from the British Medical Association, and during the period 1887-1890 he visited Vienna and Strasbourg.

The Serbian Order of St. Sava - Breast Star. Coll-1146 - Medals, awards and decorations of William Hunter

The Serbian Order of St. Sava – Breast Star. Coll-1146 – Medals, awards and decorations of William Hunter

Also during 1887-1890 Hunter worked full time on laboratory research at Cambridge, devoting himself to pernicious anaemia. He was the first person to note that the alimentary and the nervous system were often affected in this disorder. From 1895, Hunter was affiliated with the Charing Cross Hospital and the London Fever Hospital. Earlier, in 1894, he married Beatrice Fielden, daughter of Joshua Fielden MP.

BannerAlong with Julius Otto Ludwig Moeller (1819-1887), a German Professor of Medicine and Surgery from Königsberg (now Kaliningrad), he is associated with ‘Hunter’s glossitis’ caused by B12 or folic acid deficiency (‘Moeller-Hunter glossitis’).

The Serbian Order of St. Sava - Detail, with wording in older cyrillic letters 'One's own work achieves all'. Coll-1146 - Medals, awards and decorations of William Hunter

The Serbian Order of St. Sava – Detail, with wording in older cyrillic letters ‘One’s own work achieves all’. Coll-1146 – Medals, awards and decorations of William Hunter

As far as wartime Serbia is concerned however, the country had been ravaged by a disastrous epidemic of typhus lasting from November 1914 to March 1915. Indeed, it was estimated that around 500,000 people were affected by the disease, and of these some 150,000 died, along with 30,000 Austrian prisoners-of-war. Many physicians also lost their lives. An appeal was made by the Serbian government to the British Foreign Office for a mission of doctors, and Hunter who was senior physician at the London Fever Hospital at the time was given the task of building a team. In his role as Colonel in charge of the British Military Sanitary Mission in early-1915, Hunter put into place preventive measures, but the most successful treatment was achieved after steam dis-infestation using improvised tin barrels – the so-called ‘Serbian Barrel’.
BannerIn addition to the honour of his appointment as a Grand Officer of the Serbian Order of St. Sava for medical services to Serbia, in January 1916 Hunter was mentioned in Dispatches (Dardanelles) and was awarded the Companion Order of the Bath (CB). He went on to become President of the Advisory Committee, Prevention of Disease, in the Eastern Mediterranean and Mesopotamia (Gallipoli, Egypt, Salonika, Malta and Palestine), and he served with the Eastern Command, 1917-1919, as Consulting Physician. He continued to hold the rank of Colonel.
The Serbian Order of St. Sava - Detail, oval enamelled portrait of the Prince Bishop St. Sava (Rastko Nemanjić). Coll-1146 - Medals, awards and decorations of William Hunter

The Serbian Order of St. Sava – Detail, oval enamelled portrait of the Prince Bishop St. Sava (Rastko Nemanjić). Coll-1146 – Medals, awards and decorations of William Hunter

St. Sava is most important saint of the Serbian Orthodox Church and the patron saint of Serbia. The Order of St. Sava was a decoration instituted by the Serbian King, Milan I (1854-1901), in 1883. The Order was established to recognize civilians for meritorious achievements to the Church, to arts and sciences, the royal house and the state. In 1914 a change was made permitting military personnel to receive the honour for military merit. After the ending of the First World War, the Order of St Sava was awarded by the king of then-Yugoslavia until the abolishment of the monarchy in 1945 (Serbia had been a part of the Kingdom then Republic of Yugoslavia between 1918 and the early 1990s).

The Serbian Order of St. Sava - Detail. Coll-1146 - Medals, awards and decorations of William Hunter

The Serbian Order of St. Sava – Detail, Serbian Eagle and Cross. Coll-1146 – Medals, awards and decorations of William Hunter

Five grades of the Order of St. Sava were awarded: Grand Cross, Grand Officer, Commander, Officer and Knight. Other very varied recipients of the Order were Nikola Tesla (electrical engineer, physicist 1856-1943), Peter Norman Nissen (mining engineer, developer of pre-fab’ shelter 1871-1930) and Helen Keller (author, political activist, lecturer 1880-1968).

BannerHunter’s published work includes: Oral sepsis as a cause of ‘Septic gastritis’, ‘Toxic neuritis’ and other septic conditions (1901); Pernicious anaemia: its pathology, septic origin, symptoms, diagnosis, and treatment. Based upon original investigations (1901); A research into epidemic and epizootic plague (1904); Severest anaemias. Their infective nature, diagnosis and treatment (1909); Historical account of Charing Cross hospital and medical school (University of London): original plan and statutes, rise and progress (1914); and, The Serbian epidemics of typhus and relapsing fever in 1915: Their Origin, Course, and Preventive Measures employed for their Arrest  (1920).

The Serbian Order of St. Sava - Medallion/badge with ribbon. Coll-1146 - Medals, awards and decorations of William Hunter

The Serbian Order of St. Sava – Medallion/badge with ribbon. Coll-1146 – Medals, awards and decorations of William Hunter

William Hunter was a Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians (FRCP London 1896) and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh (FRSE).

Letter from William Hunter acknowledging the award of Hon. LLD. to be conferred on him by Edinburgh University. EUA INI/ADS/STA/15 1914-1930. Acceptances of Honorary Degrees

Letter from William Hunter acknowledging the award of Hon. LLD. to be conferred on him by Edinburgh University. EUA INI/ADS/STA/15 1914-1930. Acceptances of Honorary Degrees

In 1927 he was awarded an Honorary LL.D. by Edinburgh University, and acknowledging the notification of award in a letter dated 8 June 1927, Hunter offers his ‘most grateful appreciation […] of the great honour’ his alma mater has conferred on him.

Letter from William Hunter acknowledging the award of Hon. LLD. to be conferred on him by Edinburgh University. EUA INI/ADS/STA/15 1914-1930. Acceptances of Honorary Degrees

Letter from William Hunter acknowledging the award of Hon. LLD. to be conferred on him by Edinburgh University. EUA INI/ADS/STA/15 1914-1930. Acceptances of Honorary Degrees

The letter goes on: ‘It will be a great pleasure to me to be at the Graduation on July 20th’.

Colonel Sir William Hunter died on 13 January 1937.

BannerDr. Graeme D. Eddie, Assistant Librarian Archives & Manuscripts, Centre for Research Collections

Sources used included online medal sites, and: (1) University of Edinburgh. Roll of Honour 1914-1919. p.383, Edinburgh: Oliver & Boyd, 1921 (2) Serbia under typhus in 1915. p.219. The British Journal of Nursing. 10 April 1920 (3) Bosiljka M. Lalević-Vasić. History of dermatology and venereology in Serbia – part III/2 ; Dermatovenereology in Serbia from 1881-1918. p.162. Serbian Journal of Dermatology and Venereology 2009 (4), pp.159-165