To mark the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month, The Royal Mint today conducted its annual Remembrance Day ceremony at the war memorial at our site in Llantrisant.
Staff gathered around the memorial for the Remembrance address and the laying of wreaths, which this year was conducted by our Financial Director, Vin Wijeratne, and a special guest.
The Rt Hon David Jones MP, Secretary of State for Wales, paid us a visit today, and while he was here he joined us for the Remembrance Day ceremony and laid a wreath at our war memorial.
We were also joined by CSgt Jason Pickin of the Grenadier Guards, who played The Last Post that precedes the traditional two minute silence. You can watch the ceremony now at the ITV Wales website
The annual Remembrance ceremony continues a long-standing association between The Royal Mint and the act of honoring the brave servicemen and women who serve in our Armed Forces.
It is a little-known fact that, as well as producing all of the nation’s coinage, The Royal Mint also makes many of the medals awarded to honour service in our Armed Forces. Up until the early 19th century, medals and awards for bravery in battle were the reserve of the officer class and not for the common soldier.
This all changed with the Battle of Waterloo in 1815, where British troops led by Field Marshal Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington, defeated Napoleon at the Battle of Waterloo, and the decision was made that every man who served in battle should be honoured for his loyalty to King and country.
It was to the skilled craftsmen of The Royal Mint that the government turned to produce these historic medals, where, incidentally, The Duke of Wellington’s brother, William Wellesley Pole, was ‘Master of The Royal Mint’ at the time. So began a near-200 year association with the creation of military service awards for our brave servicemen and women.
The names of all those who were awarded the campaign medal for taking part in the Battle of Waterloo, some 35,000 people, were recorded in the Waterloo Medal Roll. It takes the form of a large beautifully leather-bound volume, exquisitely hand written, with the names of the soldiers entered under their regiments. The Royal Mint Museum holds a copy of the Roll, as all the medals for the Battle were made by the Royal Mint and were named at the Royal Mint before issue.
Quite apart from the survival of an original Waterloo Medal Roll being important in its own right, the volume in the Royal Mint Museum is of special interest because of the supplementary pages appended at the end.
They contain names of additional servicemen to whom the medal was awarded some years later, extending into the 1830s. In some instances the circumstances could have related to loss of the medal or what were regarded as late claims. The Roll is a handsome and rare item and in itself is a hugely potent symbol of this most famous of campaign medals.
The skilled craftsmanship and expertise of The Royal Mint’s medal division continues to create awards on behalf of the Ministry of Defence medals office to this day.
The George Cross, the Conspicuous Gallantry Cross and the Air Force Cross are just some of the medals hand-made over the years by The Royal Mint medals team, itself featuring a number of individuals with up to thirty years’ service. Servicemen and women returning from a tour of duty in Afghanistan are recognised with the award of the Operational Service Medal for Afghanistan, one of the most recent medals to be made by The Royal Mint.
Whilst precision-tooling plays a part in the modern-day process, traditional skills that have been passed down through generations of Royal Mint medal-makers are still employed, each medal produced to the highest possible standard with care, precision and pride as a lasting legacy to the courage of its recipient.
Everyone at The Royal Mint is very proud of our association with military service medals, and the role that our wonderfully skilled craftsmen and women play in honouring those who serve Queen and country, the brave servicemen and women who we have today remembered, and whose sacrifices must never be forgotten.