A Collection of Life Saving Awards formed by Dr Paul Démogé

A Collection of Life Saving Awards formed by Dr Paul Démogé

Dr Paul Demoge

Paul H. Démogé was born in Paris in 1925. His father had served as an officer with the French Colonial troops who stopped the original German attack on Verdun in February 1916, losing an arm in the battle. His mother was born in Yorkshire and came to France in 1917 as a member of General Pershing’s civilian staff at the American Expeditionary Force Headquarters in Chaumont. Living in France during the Second World War as a schoolboy, Paul Démogé joined the French Army that landed in Southern France in 1944. Since he was under-age and lacked parental permission to do so, he enlisted for the duration of hostilities in the French Foreign Legion, and was assigned to the Regiment de Marche de la Légion Etrangère, who were the armoured infantry of the 5th Armoured Division. He saw action in the Vosges mountains, breaking through the German defences at Belfort to reconquer Alsace, and then in 1945, after the battle of Colmar saw the last of the German presence on French soil, his Regiment broke through the Siegfried Line into Germany, where they advanced through the Black Forest, took Stuttgart, and proceeded all the way into Austria. After the War was over, he qualified first as a dental surgeon, then as an orthodontist, trying at the Forsyth Institute, Harvard University, and then at the Royal College of Surgeons, London. Establishing a private practice in Paris in 1958, he was appointed a Lecturer in Orthodotics in 1969 and became a full Professor in 1975 at the Université Paris-Descartes. He served as a reserve officer with the French Armed Forces Joint Medical Service, retiring as a Chief Dental Surgeon (with the rank of Colonel), and was created a Chevalier in the Legion of Honour, an Officer of the National Order of Merit, and a Commander of the Royal Moroccan Order of Ouissam-Alaouite.

Paul Démogé started collecting medals in 1964. His first goal was to build a ‘type-collection’ of one of each order, medal, decoration awarded by the French Government. As time went by, foreign orders and awards were added. This brought a special interest for British awards to Frenchmen, starting with the Crimean medal given to French troops. However, his collection was not limited to combat awards. Everyday life has its own moments of acute danger: the firemen who rescued people from burning buildings; the lifeboatmen who saved stricken crews on the stormy seas; the doctors and nurses who cared for the sick in epidemics when no cure was known; and the ordinary people who stopped run-away horses or pulled out the neighbour’s child drowning in the river next door, all risked their lives for others. They were and still are heroes. The wonderful stories that accompany their life saving medals adds the pleasure of research to the thrill of possession. Paul Démogé has been one of the earlier members of the Life Saving Medals Research Society when it was founded by Bill Fevyer. He has also been a long standing member of both the O.M.R.S and O.M.S.A, as well as Symboles et Traditions in France.