Through the Ages

Through the Ages

Wednesday, 2 December 2015


One oddity to note from the early UNIT era is that the Brigadier is the only member of UNIT we ever see with any medals ribbons on his uniform. Logic, however, tells us that Sergeant Benton should also have medals. It typically takes about twelve years (minimum) to attain the rank of sergeant, suggesting that Benton should have seen some form of action in the 1960s (the British campaigned in Korea, Borneo, Radfan, South Arabia, Malay Peninsula, South Vietnam, Northern Ireland, and Dhofar, in the 1960s, all of which were eligible for a General Service Medal). Not to mention that fact that he would conceivably have won other decorations for bravery or gallantry (such as the Military Medal, for example) or exemplary conduct. The many Captains that served under the Brigadier (Munro, Hawkins, Turner, Yates) could also have been awarded medals. Since UNIT would surely only recruit the best of the best from the services I find it hard to believe that none of them have ever been decorated. Obviously, the real reason was that the costume department probably had neither the time nor the inclination to source the correct medals for each character’s history, beyond the Brigadier himself.

Brigadier Alistair Lethbridge-Stewart CMG DSO

With regards to the Brigadiers medals, on the top row he has the Order of St Michael and St George (presumably he's a Companion of the Order, since any higher and he would have been a Sir, which we know doesn't happen until much later); the British Empire Medal (awarded for meritorious military service worthy of recognition by the Crown); and the Distinguished Service Order (DSO), which in actual fact means he should properly be addressed as Brigadier Alistair Lethbridge-Stewart CMG DSO (It should also be noted that the order of precedence is wrong; the DSO should come before the British Empire Medal). On the bottom row of medals he wears the General Service Medal; and the Queen Elizabeth II Coronation Medal. After this he wears medal ribbons for foreign awards he has earned, including the Legion of Merit; the medal of a Chevalier of the Legion of Honour; and the Canadian Forces Decoration.

The Brigadier's medal ribbons during the early 1970s

Regarding medals, it should also be noted, just to add to the UNIT dating controversy, that none of the military characters wear the Queen Elizabeth II Silver Jubilee Medal, which was issued in 1977 to commemorate the twenty-fifth anniversary of Elizabeth II’s accession to the throne of the United Kingdom. This suggests, as observed in the Fifth Doctor Story “Mawdryn Undead” that the UNIT stories do indeed take place before 1977 (interestingly, in “Battlefield” it can be seen that this particular medal has actually been added to the Brigadier’s Service Dress uniform).

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