Royal Artillery Distinguished Conduct Medal 1917

Via Flickr:

Thursday May 16th 2013. I acquired a First World War DCM Medal Group.

Whole group

Distinguished Conduct Medal and Star, BWM, Victory Trio. 4 medals in all. Wrongly mounted on 2 bars. I bought it knowing that there was a problem with the 1914 – 15 Star. The other medals were mounted in an incorrect order however the stitching indicates that this was done many years ago. The reverse of the Star was damaged to the extent that the naming was illegible. This did not look accidental. More of which later.

The DCM has some knocks and has definitely been worn which is good to know.

DCM Obverse close up

DCM Reverse close up

The interesting piece that came with the medals is a framed signed note from Major-General T Matheson. Again more of which later.

The medals as follows:

Distinguished Conduct Medal named to: 74672 GNR A BMBR F R HOUCHIN 134/By R.F.A.

DCM naming 1

DCM naming 2DCM naming 3

British War Medal and Victory Medal named to:  74672 CPL F R HOUCHIN R.A.

Houchin BWM and Victory naming

Francis Raymond Houchin’s DCM index card confirm the award dated 4th March 1918. The Citation in the London Gazette dated 4th March 1918 can be seen below.

2740 Supplement to the London Gazette 4 March 1918

DCM with London Gazette

74672 Gnr (A/Bmbr) F R Houchin. R.F.A.  (Crewe).

For conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty. When a gas shell wrecked the officers’ dug-out and all the occupants became casualties, he showed great coolness and determination as one of the rescue party, working under heavy fire and in spite of gas fumes. On the following morning, though suffering from gas, he manned a gun with the only other man available and fired a bombardment programme made out for the whole battery. His splendid courage and determination enabled the battery to remain in action and carry out its task during a most important period of the operations.

DCM LG citation

He is also Gazetted in London and Edinburgh as follows:

10742 Supplement to the London Gazette 12th September 1918 and The Edinburgh Gazette September 17th 1918.

74672 Bombardier Francis Raymond Houchin, D.C.M. Royal Field Artillery (Crewe)

This is for the Award of The Italian Bronze Medal for Military Valour. I have no further information on this Italian Decoration and would welcome feedback.

Regarding the damaged Star we have a possible answer below.

Bogus star

The Medal Index Card for Francis Raymond Houchin confirms his entitlement to a First world War Trio. However it states that he entered France 19th August 1914 as Gunner in the 15th Brigade Royal Field Artillery. This makes him eligible for a 1914 Mons Star Trio, not a 1914 – 15 Star Trio. It seems probable that the original Mons Star medal was lost or sold and he, or a family member, has replaced it with an incorrect Star and tried to eradicate the naming in such a way as to appear genuine.

DCM with MICs

The hunt starts for his Mons Star!

The MIC also confirms that the naming on the BWM and Victory medals is correct as he is shown as a Corporal.

Additional basic research shows, on the 1891 Census, that Francis Raymond Houchin was born circa 1890 in the Parish of Coppenhall Monks, Crewe, Cheshire. His parents are named as Frederick and Mary Ann Houchin. On the 1911 Census he is shown as living at 66 Lockitt Street, Crewe and that he was a Railways Labourer.

The interesting framed note reads:

DCM with Framed Matheson note

4th Division 

The Major-General Commanding 4th Division has received a report of the gallant conduct of

74672 Bombr F R Houchin. 134th Battery R.F.A.

And he wishes to congratulate him on his fine behaviour. 

Signed  T J Matheson Major General Commanding 4th Division.

It is intriguing that the document has been dated 22/10/17 (22nd October 1917)

DCM with Matheson note

Francis Raymond Houchin survived the war and died in 1962

Where is his 1914 Mons Star?

Where is his Italian Bronze Medal for Military Valour?

Why was he awarded the Italian Medal?

There is a good story to research here.

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