I have some statement to make to the House, on a subject which I regard as agreeable but about which there will be many differences of opinion. As has already been announced, His Majesty has decided to commemorate the victory in North Africa by the creation of the Africa Star and at the same time to institute the 1939–43 Star as a reward for those in the Services who have taken part in hard fighting elsewhere during the first four years of war. The Merchant Navy will be included. No individual will qualify for both Stars. I must explain that Stars are given in a war and medals only at the end. There will be Clasps to the Africa Star for the Eighth and First Armies. There will also be a Clasp to the 1939–43 Star for the Navy, the Air Force and the Merchant Navy for services in connection with the North African campaign.
The manufacture of the Stars themselves will be postponed until after the war. The ribbons will be made now and issued as soon as supplies are ready. In addition the Clasps will be denoted by Emblems on the ribbon. These Emblems will be an Arabic "8" and an Arabic "I" or a "silver rose" as the case may be.
The King has also approved a bronze Emblem to denote Mention in Despatches which can be worn on the coat in the place where a single Medal ribbon would be worn or immediately after any Medal ribbons, and has authorised the institution of Wound Stripes and Chevrons for years of war service.
The Wound Stripes and Chevrons will be awarded, not only in the Armed Forces, but also in the Merchant Navy, Civil Air Transport, the Police, the National Fire Service, in specified Civil Defence services and, in addition, in the Fire Guard and to Nurses in Government or Local Authority Hospitals or in the recognised Voluntary Hospitals.
Further details of these matters are contained in a White Paper which will shortly be available to hon. Members in the Vote Office. It is an extremely elaborate Paper, and I have personally devoted a very great deal of time to settling the various difficulties. As I say, there can be no doubt that different views will prevail upon this, but I believe it will be found that we have good ground for the various decisions we have formed. The Paper will be found in the Vote Office.
To what extent has the award of posthumous decorations been decided upon? For example, a complaint has been made to me concerning Pipe Major McLaughlan, now dead, who led the Eighth Army in the African campaign. Great regret is felt in the vicinity where he lived that no award has been made to him because he has died. This occurs in a great many cases. Would it not be possible for some posthumous award to take place?
The question of posthumous awards has been very much studied, and various statements made upon it. I would not like to add to these statements anything prompted by the question which the hon. Member has asked, but the Paper is a very full one, and it should, I think, be studied. No doubt opportunities will occur in the ordinary working of Parliamentary Business, and the particular points which arise out of it can be raised.