Ministry of Defence
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Lest We Forget
British Legion
The Royal British Legion

World War 2 Medals Awarded
(Extract from The National Archives - Merchant Seamen Medals)

Eight medals were awarded to British merchant seamen who served in World War Two and who met the qualifications for each medal. The Mercantile Marine Office usually issued the ribbons at the port, with the medal normally following on some time later, after it had been produced by the Mint. It is believed that the Atlantic Star and the 1939-1945 ribbon were issued in advance of the others.

Medal
Qualification
War Medal
(1939-1945)
Generally awarded if the service period qualified for one of the Stars and if terminated by death, disability due to service or capture as a prisoner-of-war. A merchant seaman had to have served a minimum of 28 days at sea
Atlantic Star
(1939-1945)
Awarded after the Battle of the Atlantic for service between 3 September 1939 and 8 May 1945 and if the service period was terminated by their death or disability due to service. The qualifying service period for the Atlantic Star could only begin after the 1939-1945 Star had been earned by 6 months' service. A merchant seaman had to serve in the Atlantic, home waters, North Russia Convoys or South Atlantic waters. The Atlantic Star was also awarded to those awarded a gallantry medal, with no minimum qualifying period.
1939-1945 Star
Awarded for service between 3 September 1939 and 2 September 1945 and if the service period was terminated by death or disability due to service. A merchant seaman could qualify after 6 months' service with at least one voyage in an operational area. The 1939-1945 Star was also awarded to recipients of a gallantry medal, with no minimum qualifying period.
Africa Star
(1940-1943)
Awarded for service between 10 June 1940 and 12 May 1943, serving in the Mediterranean. A merchant seaman might also qualify serving in operations off the Moroccan coast between 8 November 1942 and 12 May 1943. The minimum qualifying period was one day.
Pacific Star
(1941-1945)
Awarded for service in the Pacific Ocean, South China Sea or the Indian Ocean between 8 December 1941 and 2 September 1945. Generally the qualifying service period for the Pacific Star could only begin after the 1939-1945 Star had been earned by 6 months' service.
Burma Star
(1941-1945)
Awarded for service in the Burma Campaign between 11 December 1941 and 2 September 1945. A merchant seaman qualified serving within a restricted area in the Bay of Bengal. Generally the qualifying service period for the Burma Star could only begin after the 1939-1945 Star had been earned by 6 months' service.
France & Germany Star
(1944-1945)
Awarded for service between 6 June 1944 and 8 May 1945, in direct support of land operations in France, Belgium, Holland or Germany, in the North sea, the English Channel or the Bay of Biscay (service off the coast of the south of France could qualify for the Italy Star, see below). There was no minimum time qualification for a Merchant Seaman.
Italy Star
(1943-1945)
Awarded for service between 11 June 1943 and 8 May 1945, in the Mediterranean and the Aegean Sea. Operations in and around the Dodecanese, Corsica, Greece, Sardinia and Yugoslavia after 11 June 1943 would also qualify. Generally the qualifying service period for the Italy Star could only begin after the 1939-1945 Star had been earned by 6 months' service. There were no clasps awarded with the Italy Star.

A single oak leaf emblem attached to the War Medal ribbon denotes a Mention-in-Despatches; the silver oak leaf, a King's Commendation for Brave Conduct. Even if a person had several "mentions", he would only have one emblem.

Anyone who qualified for both the Pacific Star and the Burma Star would be awarded the first Star earned. A Clasp would be worn to signify service for the other Star.

Anyone who qualified for both the France & Germany Star and the Atlantic Star would be awarded the first Star earned, with a Clasp. A silver rose on the ribbon bar signifies the award of a bar.

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Last updated: 1 September, 2007

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