A scarce decorated 'Belgian Agent' and subsequent Political Prisoner medal group of 6 medals for service with the British Army in France: Monsieur Florent Degeaive, Belgian Secret Agent attached to Military Intelligence GHQ British Expeditionary Force
- Belgium: Military Decoration (Decoration Militaire (Article IV). Leopold II. First issue (1873-1900) Type II reverse. With gallantry (Article IV) riband
- Belgium: Civil Decoration (Decoration Civique). 2nd Class Cross. Silver. With silver clasp '1914-1918'
- Belgium: Political Prisoners Medal 1914-1918 (M?daille du Prisonnier Politique 1914-1918 ). With French un-lingual reverse
- Belgium: Commemorative Medal for the Great War (Medaille Commemorative De La Guerre 1914-1918) . With 'Crown' emblem (denoting service as a Volunteer or Agent)
- Belgium: Interallied Victory Medal (M?daille de la Victoire ou Interalli?e)
- United Kingdom: British War Medal. Silver issue (F. De Geaive.)
The recipients surname is variously shown as De Geaive (British records) and as Degeaive (Belgian records)
Note: The inclusion of the first type Military Decoration of type awarded 1873-1900, indicates an award for an act of gallantry performed prior to the Great War, either as a soldier or more likely as a member of the Gendarmerie
Important: The recipient Florent Degeaive is confirmed as being award a Mention-in-Despatches, per the official list of Belgian Agents decorated with the MID published in the London Gazette issue of 26 August 1919
The award of the BWM verified as recipients only British campaign medal entitlement per the respective campaign medal roll (ref WO 329/2356) compiled and signed by Lieutenant-Colonel Edmund Wallinger of British Military Intelligence, dated in London on 7 August 1919. In addition to Florent, the same medal roll entry page also includes the names of his family members, Madame Marie Degeaive and Mademoiselle Degeaive, all three members of the family shown as resident of, 12 Rue De Treves, Brussels, Belgium, and all three of whom are confirmed as subsequently being interred by the enemy as 'Political Prisoners' during the Great War 1914-1918
The British War Medal Roll shows the De Geaive's service as 'Volunteer Service with the British Army' - a poorly conjured euphemism for 'what was in reality ? Spying, the most hazardous of all occupations for Spy?s resident in enemy occupied territory! However, and so that there is no ambiguity, Florent's ?Medal Index Card? clearly states that his single BWM. entitlement was granted under the umbrella heading of ?Belgian Agents? and ?Agents 102?. The circumstances of Florent's subsequent imprisonment by the German's is not known by us, and although he was certainly lucky not to be have been executed, the below following extract from Michael Occleshaw?s book 'Armour Against Fate' is not without interest with regards to the possible fates that awaited Belgian Agents;
?There were, of course, many other organizations which, while successful to a lesser degree, nevertheless ran the same risks and penalties. Drake tells us that the number of agents employed by G.H.O. services alone was ?roughly 6,000?, of whom 98 lost their lives - 91 executed, 4 dying in prison, 2 shot and 1 electrocuted when trying to cross the Dutch-Belgian frontier. A further 644 were imprisoned for sentences totalling 700 years (the time actually served amounted to 175 years), and 10 were deported. Major Wallinger, however, told Colonel Kirke that the total number of G.H.Q. agents in the occupied territories was 5,500 of whom 1,200 were imprisoned, serving an average of 14 months, and 200 were shot or died in prison (though in a later letter he gave a total shot or dying in prison as 120). The reason for the disparity between the two men?s figures almost certainly resides in a question of terminology, a question of what was precisely meant by the words ?agent? and ?spy?. An agent is an individual directly employed by an Intelligence Service sent into a foreign country to obtain information. A spy is an individual who served in the enemy?s own ranks and, more often than not, is recruited by the agent ... the numbers employed both directly and indirectly by the British Intelligence Services was one that the Germans simply could not contain, much less control. Every sort of person was employed, ranging ?from abbes, high officials of the Gendarmerie, a Marchioness of some 60 years of age, big industrialists and prominent barristers, down to seamstresses, poachers, smugglers, bargemen and railway officials .
Florent Degeaive (1862-1939) was a resident of Brussels, Belgium, in 1914, and is believed to have been a member of the Gendarmerie or Civil Service. Florent died in 1939, and is buried at Grez-Doiceau, Walloon Brabant, Wallonia, Belgium, where his remains share a burial plot with other Great War 'Belgian Agents' and family members, vis his wife Madame Marie Francoise Maricq Degeaive (1866-1944) and their child Germaine Degeaive (1896-1970). The tombstones of all three are marked with the honorific title 'Prisonnier Politique 1914-1918'
The medals are contained in a contemporary wooden glazed frame (not suitable for overseas postage - we will not send the glass overseas - but suggest / recommend that overseas buyers have the pad with the medals removed and sent sans frame). For UK buyers, the frame can be sent at buyers-risk if required. Postage quoted reflects the additional costs incurred to handle this item
Condition: Medals mostly about EF