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Devon County

Devonshire Rgt.

Directory Listings





Parish Records




War Memorials



by Duncan Brownlie 


UK and Commonwealth Great War service medals were

 worn in the following order of precedence:

1914 or 1914-15 Star
British War Medal
Mercantile Marine Medal
Victory Medal or South African Victory Medal
Territorial Forces War Medal


Established in July 1919 and issued by the Board of Trade, this bronze medal was awarded to members of the Mercantile Marine or Mercantile Marine Reserve who had served at sea on at least one voyage through a danger zone.


The medal was also awarded to those who had served at sea for at least six month in certain named occupations, for example, pilot ships, crews of lighthouse vessels and post-office ships.


Due to the slight difference in award criteria between the British War Medal and Victory Medal for the Mercantile Marine, those who served solely in the Mercantile Marine received the Mercantile Marine Medal and British War Medal only.  Whilst those who served on commissioned ships and auxiliaries under Special Naval Engagement could be entitled to the 1914-15 Star, British War Medal, Mercantile Marine Medal and Victory Medal (the highest combination of Great War campaign medals you could attain).


The obverse shows the head of George V, identical to the British War Medal.






The Mercantile Marine Medal - obverse

Courtesy of http://medals.nzdf.nz/legal.htm

The Mercantil Marine Medal - Obverse


The Mercantile Marine Medal - Reverse

The reverse, designed by Harold Stabler, depicts a steamship sailing through a rough sea, with a sailing ship on the horizon and a sinking U-boat.  Below is the inscription, 'FOR WAR SERVICE - MERCANTILE MARINE 1914 - 1918'.


The Mercantile Marine Medal - reverse

Courtesy of http://medals.nzdf.nz/legal.htm


The ribbon colours of green, red and white symbolise a ship's port, steaming and starboard navigation lights and is worn with the green furthest from the shoulder.


Generally the recipient’s first and last name in full is impressed into the rim in capitals, or first name, initial(s) and last name.  However I have seen versions where the initials only and last name are used.  Those to Australians have the recipient’s initials and surname, followed by 'AUSTRALIA' and the service number.


Forgeries have been found where an ordinary Mercantile Marine Medal has been stamped with the word 'AUSTRALIA' and a false service number, to pass it off as the scarcer Australian version.  These should be easy to detect, as the word 'AUSTRALIA' should appear directly below the suspender claw, and the forgery may show the recipient's first name and not initials.



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