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The Mercantile Marine War Medal

The Mercantile Marine War medal was awarded by the Board of Trade to all Mercantile Marine ranks who had undertaken one or more voyages through either a war zone or a considered danger zone. This included men who served in the coastal trade such as lightship crews, pilots and fishermen. Additionally, it was awarded to all those who had served for more than six months at sea between 4th August 1914 and 11th November 1918.

No fixed address

Approximately 250,000 Mercantile Marine War medals were produced in bronze. Yet only 133,345 of these medals were actually issued. The explanation for this was that seamen had to actually claim the medal themselves. Many decided not to do this, or were in fact unable to because they had no fixed address for the medal to be sent to.

Design and manufacture

The Mercantile Marine War medal was designed by Harold Stabler and die cast in bronze measuring 36 mm in diameter. The obverse depicts King George V’s head by Sir Bertram Mackennal enclosed by the legend ‘GEORGIVS V BRITT: OMN: REX ET IND: IMP’. The reverse depicts a Merchant Navy ship sailing on rough seas with a sinking U boat with its stern pointing out of the water to the right of the ship with a Schooner in the background. Beneath the image is an inscription reading ‘FOR WAR SERVICE IN THE MERCANTILE MARINE 1914 1918’ with both the image and inscription enclosed within a laurel wreath to the outer edge. Harold Stabler’s initials H.S. are incorporated in the bottom right corner of the maritime image amongst rolling waves.

For more medal blogs, please see British World War One Medals: The 1914 and 1914-15 Stars and British World War One Medals: The British War Medal 1914-1920.

If you have any military medals you would like to have valued, please contact Robin Newcombe of Grand Auctions, Folkestone, Kent.