Soldiers sell Iraq medals through eBay
Soldiers thought to be disillusioned with the war in Iraq are selling their medals from the campaign for hundreds of pounds on the internet.
The Operation Telic medal
The Operation Telic medal
Dozens of the Operation Telic decorations have appeared for sale on eBay, the online auction site, just months after they were issued to troops.
The revelation is said to have "dismayed" senior officers and members of the Defence Medal Office, the organisation that issues medals.
Many of the troops auctioning medals are hoping to cash in on their rarity value. Although more than 90,000 have been issued, few have previously found their way on to the collectors' market.
The disclosure that sales are taking place while British troops are still under fire in the region has echoes of the Vietnam conflict when veterans threw away their decorations in protest.
One officer who served in the Iraq war told the Sunday Telegraph that many soldiers now believed they were sent to Iraq on a "false premise".
He said that while he was proud to have served in the war, he knew of soldiers who believed they had been sent to "fight and die" in an illegal war.
Any member of the armed services who has spent more than 30 days in Iraq is entitled to receive the medal. Those troops who took part in combat operations received an accompanying rosette which is understood to add greater value.
One set of medals that appeared on the auction site included decorations from the first Gulf war, the Queen's Jubilee Medal and a medal awarded for service on Op Telic. The set sold for £570 to a private collector in November.
According to the seller, whose details were anonymous, the Op Telic medal had been out of its packaging only twice and the recipient was a staff sergeant possibly still serving in the Army.
Another Op Telic medal, sold for £352, was originally issued to a member of the Royal Artillery.
The description read: "Iraq War medal with clasp reading 19th March to 28th April. Also issued with front line rosette, absolutely mint condition. Still in government box with ribbon."
Details of the sales appear in the new, January issue of Soldier, the official magazine of the British Army.
The magazine quoted a spokesman from the Defence Medal Office, at RAF Innsworth, Gloucestershire, which assesses medal applications, as saying: "It is disappointing to see awards up for auction.
"Those selling decorations will regret it in the long term. As demonstrated with the on-going demand for Second World War and Canal Zone (Suez) Medals, decorations mean more to veterans as they get older."
Patrick Mercer, the Conservative shadow homeland defence minister and a former commanding officer of an infantry battalion, said he was not surprised that some soldiers were selling military decorations. He added: "Morale must be very low if soldiers are selling their Op Telic medals just weeks after being issued with them."
A spokesman for the Ministry of Defence, said: "It is not illegal to sell a medal but it is something that we would not encourage. It is very disappointing."