Army Meritorious Service Medal, GV, Army Long Service and Good Conduct Medal, EDVII issue, Colour Sergeant Thomas Banfield, Royal Sussex Regiment. Awarded the MSM in 1949 aged 83, veteran of Hazara and a well known local around Sussex where he was born.
A colourful commonly seen character around Chichester and Sussex, Thomas was a Sussex man, born, raised and died in the county, served with the local 35th Royal Sussex Regiment for 22 years, with 16 years service in India including the “Black Mountain” Expedition. He was practically forced into Army retirement following a new War Office order that all long servers over 21 years were to be pensioned off, whilst serving on the Permanent Staff of the Sussex Militia.
He then went on to spend the next 19 years as a Chichester Postman, during which time, the staunch Labour supporter became Chairman of the Union of Post Office Workers. Upon his retirement the Union presented him a fine Arm Chair and a Pipe, as a token of esteem from his old colleagues.
Now almost 60 and with no sign of slowing down he took on a new job as a Gardener, which he continued for many more years, in his early 80s he was still the Groundsman for the Chichester Police Station.
Many years later in 1949, he was finally honoured, at the age of 83, with the award of the Meritorious Service Medal.
Aged 85, and described as “one of the Party’s oldest supporters in the City”, he pinned on the Yellow and Black Labour Candidate’s badge to Captain David Packham as he took on the current Tory MP for Chichester, Banfield liked him as he was also a Socialist and a fellow veteran of the Royal Sussex Regiment.
Army LS&GC Officially impressed: “2221 C. SERGT. T. BANFIELD. RL. SUSSEX REGt”
MSM Officiailly impressed: “2221 COL. SJT. T. BAMFIELD, R. SUSSEX.”
Contact marking to LSGC and general wear over decades but well taken care of, minor contacting to MSM from wear alongside LSGC (awarded only about 5 years before his death).
With full copy service papers.
Award of the MSM, Bognor Regis Observer, 5th March 1949:
“EIGHTY THREE YEAR OLD MAN GETS AN ARMY AWARD
NO SPUD PEELING TODAY
In 1908, Colour Sergeant Thomas Banfield of the Royal Sussex Regiment, left the army. On Monday, more than 40 years after he completed his 22 years as a soldier, he was presented with the Meritorious Service Medal by Major D.G. Gregson-Ellis, G.O.C., Home Counties, at Chichester Barracks.
A gratuity of £10 per annum goes with the medal.
Speaking of the modern army, Mr Banfield said, ‘They don’t let them wash up, or peel spuds, but in my days…’
His son, Leslie Banfield, rose to the rank of Major in the Sussex Regiment during the recent war.
Mr Banfield, joined the 3rd (Militia) Battalion of the Royal Sussex Regiment in 1886.
Then he decided to transfer to the Regular Army and was posted to the 1st Battalion, before finally joining the 2nd Battalion, just as it was about to sail for India.
He spent 16 years in India, where he gained his Sergeant’s stripes. He came home to England and in 1905 was awarded the Long Service and Good Conduct Medal.
He was attached to the staff of the Militia at Chichester Barracks and then a War Office Order, stating that all men on the Militia with more than 21 years soldiering experience must be pensioned off, was issued and Banfield left the army.
For the next 19 years, he worked as a Postman. After this he took a job as a Gardener, and today he works as Groundsman at the Chichester Police Station. His home is in Grove Road.”
Chichester Observer, 28th September 1927, his retirement as a Postman:
“PRESENTATION TO RETIRING POSTMAN
Mr Thomas Banfield, of 64, Grove Road, has just retired, after serving 19 years as a Postman, and on Saturday last he was the object of an interesting presentation at the ‘White Horse’, on South Street.
Mr Banfield (who previously to taking up his civil position, served in the Royal Sussex Regiment for 22 years and retired after having achieved the rank of Colour-Sergeant, and earned the North-West Frontier Medal, for the Black Mountain Expedition, 1855, with the Hazara Clasp the Long Service Medal and the Good Conduct Medal)
Had been for a number of years Chairman of the Chichester Branch of Post Office Workers (Outdoor Section).
Mr A.C. Baker, the new Chairman of the Branch, presided over the smoking convert held in honour at the ‘White Horse’ and Mr H.W. Wallace a member of the Executive Council of the U.P.W., presented Mr Banfield with an Arm Chair and a Pipe, as a token of esteem from his old colleagues.
Mr C. Vine, the local Honorary Secretary, added a tribute to Mr Banfield’s work, and the evening concluded very happily.”