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Article on unknown variation of WWII Army GCM

Discussion in 'Medals, Insignia, Badges & Recalls' started by emccomas, Nov 22, 2016.

  1. emccomas

    emccomas New Member

    Nov 16, 2016
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    Here is a copy of the article I wrote recently for the Journal of the Orders and Medals Society of America on a previously unknown variation of the WWII Army Good Conduct Medal. Someone asked about this in the responses to my intro to the forum. I deleted the variations table since it did not copy with the proper formatting.

    [SIZE=16pt]What is this thing?[/SIZE]
    [SIZE=16pt]An unknown World War II Army Good Conduct Medal?[/SIZE]
    [SIZE=14pt]by Edward W. J. McComas[/SIZE]
    I collect cased World War II medal set, and I prefer that they are unnamed and unattributed. I was offered the opportunity to purchase an early version WWII Army Good Conduct Medal set in the Army style untitled case.

    This particular medal was a full wrap brooch with a three digit numbered (998) pendant. This medal had all of the correct characteristics of an early three digit numbered Army Good Conduct Medal. Full wrap brooch, three digit numbered pendant, rounded style suspension lug. This medal is not named. Everything with the medal and the associated service ribbon and lapel pin, all housed in an early style untitled Army medal case appears to be correct.

    The seller and I agree on a price, and the seller indicated that he will also include another WWII vintage slot brooch Army Good Conduct Medal, that came in the case with the early wrapped brooch medal. Not a problem for me.

    The medal set arrives, and I set the slot brooch Army GCM to the side. I spend a good deal of time examining the wrap brooch medal, the ribbon, the lapel pin, and the untitled case. Everything is as it should be, and I was pleased with my purchase. I put everything back in the case and locked it in the safe.

    A while later I have a reason to take the medal set out and when I started to put it all back in the safe, I take a closer look at the slot brooch Army GCM that came with the purchase and noticed that something doesn’t look right - it is a slot brooch, and the medal is not named. But this medal has a wire (or ring) suspension on the pendant which doesn’t make sense.

    I know that approximately the first 250 Army Good Conduct Medals were wire suspension, numbered pendants, and full wrap brooch suspension device. Was it possible that this is an early pendant that has had a slot brooch ribbon attached to it after the fact?I quickly checked for a number on the pendant, expecting the mystery to be easily solved. No such luck, as there is not a number on the pendant. Now I was puzzled.

    What is this thing? It has all of the characteristics of a common later World War II vintage Army Good Conduct Medal: slot brooch suspension device, unnumbered pendant, correct color and style ribbon. Everything was correct except the wire suspension device on the top of the pendant.

    It was time to do some detective work. The starting point was, of course, the excellent article on Army Good Conduct Medals written by Fred Borch1.

    His article lists five separate variations of Army Good Conduct Medals, but the GCM that I have is not one of those variations.

    At this point I do what just about everyone else does when searching for information, I “Googled” it. The key to doing an internet search is figuring out how to ask the question. I tried a number of variations and finally got a hit on the phrase “WWII army gcm slot brooch ring suspension”. Others had run into this strange medal, actually more than one have been seen.

    There were additional references to this unknown variation of the Army Good Conduct Medal in various posts on the United States Militaria Forum website (www.usmilitariaforum.com/forums/)

    I started examining posts on various militaria forums from 2005 and 2006 time frame, and found that many others were wondering what this particular style of Good Conduct Medal really was. I was seeing more questions than answers until….

    Another collector has one of these style Army Good Conduct Medals, and is it still in the original blue box with the manufacturer’s label on it. The owner has posted photographs of the medal and the box with the label (Figure 1). The medal matches the GCM that I have.

    This slot brooch, wire suspension, unnumbered World War II Army Good Conduct Medal was now identified. The label on the box indicated that the medal was manufactured by CORO INC under a PQMD Purchase Order No. 10794, dated May 11, 1944.

    Wait a minute! CORO INC is not listed as a manufacturer of medals during World War II. What is going on here?

    Back to the detective work. Some poking around and asking questions uncovers some interesting information. CORO INC did, in fact, have a contract to manufacture Army Good Conduct Medals. A list of CORO INC contracts valued in excess of $50,000 (Figure 2) clearly shows an entry for a Good Conduct Medal. The value of the CORO INC contract for GOOD CONDUCT MEDALS is listed at $86,000, with a period of performance of May, 1944 to December, 1944.

    Some additional searching also disclosed the fact that CORO INC also manufactured Army Air Medals (Figure 3), and Army Distinguished Service Medals, both housed in the blue cardboard box. The Army Air Medals and Army Distinguished Service Medals produced by CORO INC do not appear to significantly differ from the same vintage medals produced by other manufacturers.

    Now it is time to examine the CORO INC Good Conduct Medal more closely. It is clear that the wire suspension on the CORO INC medal is not quite the same as the wire suspension on the early numbered Good Conduct Medals (which were manufactured by Medallic Art Company). The wire on the early GCM is soldered directly to the pendant. The wire on the CORO INC medal was sitting on a small post that is soldered to the pendant (Figures 4 & 5).

    Also, the coloring on the slot brooch on the CORO INC medal has a bright copper / brassy tint to it that is not seen on other slot brooch GCMs of the era. The same brassy tint can also be seen on the Army Air Medals and the Army Distinguished Service Medals produced by CORO INC. This characteristics is a bit difficult to see clearly until you put the CORO medals next to other manufacturer’s slot brooch medals of the same time frame.

    It is now clear that my Good Conduct Medal is a previously unidentified variation of an Army Good Conduct Medal. Table 1 is a reproduction of the table from Fred Borch’s article showing GCM Manufacturing Types to which I have added Type VI to indicate one with a wire loop (ring loop) and a slot brooch.

    TABLE 1 - Deleted​
    Chronologically, the Type VI Army GCM should fit between the Type II and the Type III, based on a mid-1944 manufacturing date.

    The manufacturer’s list in Fred Borch’s article should also be updated to include the following:

    CORO INC – produced Type VI GCMs under PQMD Purchase Order No. 10794, 11 May, 1944 to December, 1944.

    To date I have located four different CORO INC Army Good Conduct Medals (all with these same characteristics), two separate CORO INC Army Air Medals, and one CORO INC Army Distinguished Service Medal.

    So here we are, over 70 years after the fact, still finding new and unusual variations on World War II medals, and still learning new things. What an amazing hobby this is!

    The author wishes to thank the members of the United States Militaria Forum that posted information and photographs online for their assistance in this article. All photographs are either the property of the author or used with permission of the owner.

    1 Borch III, Colonel Fred L. ““For Exemplary Behavior, Efficiency, and Fidelity” – A History of the Army Good Conduct Medals,” Journal of the Orders and Medals Society of America, Volume 51, Number 2 (March – April, 2000), 3 – 23.

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