The Canadian Medal Rolls - Distinguished Flying Medal (1939-1945)
Sidney Allinson is a Victoria-based communications consultant, Canadian
news correspondent for Britain’s The Army Quarterly and Defence, and
author of The Bantams: The Untold Story of World War I.
Nowadays, military medals are rare items, objects of specialized study by collectors and military historians. Medals awarded to Canadian servicemen are of particular interest to collectors in this country. However, supportive information about the award of individual medals is almost as rare, especially those medals won by airmen. Therefore, collectors will welcome Martin Ashton’s The Canadian Medal Rolls — Distinguished Flying Medal (1939-1945).
Considering the enormous role played by Canadian airmen in World War II, most of them Non-Commissioned Officers, this study of one of their gallantry awards is useful and significant. The author’s diligence is remarkable, in that he has managed to assemble so much detail about all DFM medal-holders by name, individual medal numbers, and the circumstances under which each was won. One of the hallmarks of truly well-researched material of this kind is the assumption that the reader may know nothing at all. Such a ground-zero base provides reassurance to the seasoned collector that fine points will also be filled in at the top end of the knowledge scale, and it is greatly helpful to the tyro who comes new to the field.
Martin Ashton’s study of the DFM provides solid understanding by starting with the Royal Warrant that originated the medal. He provides the complete London Gazette documentation of the awards, which brings out the high drama that is inherent to the excitement of medal collecting. Page after page of understated prose describes the heroic actions of now-unknown Canadian airmen who carried on though wounded, burned, or deathly afraid, to do more than their duty.
However, it is the detailed documentation that will most commend the book to collectors as a much-needed primary source of confirmation of Distinguished Flying Medals awarded to Canadians in World War II.