It has been some time since we looked at a British campaign medal of the Second World War. Today we are looking at the Atlantic Star, and this specific example is a bit special as it was awarded to my grandfather. Unfortunately this means it lives in a display case on my father’s wall so the picture quality below is not as good as I would like, however I particularly wanted to show this example so I hope you wont mind and I will use stock photographs further in the post.
The obverse follows the usual pattern for the World War II campaign medals with a six pointed star with a central design of the Royal Cypher “GRI VI”, surmounted by a crown. A circlet, the top of which is covered by the crown, surrounds the cypher and is inscribed “THE ATLANTIC STAR”.
The reverse of the medal is unmarked in the UK, although some Commonwealth nations did add the recipient’s name here. The medal hangs from a blue, white and sea green ribbon representing the colours of the Atlantic Ocean:
The qualifying areas for the award of the Atlantic Star were the Atlantic and Home Waters excluding the Mediterranean, the south Atlantic between the longitude of Cape Horn and longitude 20° East (South Africa), and the convoy routes to ports in North Russia.
The Atlantic Star was awarded for six months service afloat in the Atlantic or in Home Waters within the period from 3 September 1939 to 8 May 1945. It was also awarded to air crew who had taken part in operations against the enemy at sea within the qualifying areas, subject to having served for two months in an operational unit. The 1939–1945 Star must have already been earned by six months service, or two months for air crew, before commencing qualifying service for the Atlantic Star.
Merchant seaman also qualified for the award of the medal, also on condition that the 1939–1945 Star must have already been earned. They were required to have served in the Atlantic, Home Waters, North Russia Convoys or the south Atlantic.
The award of a gallantry medal or Mention in Dispatches for action while serving in the qualifying areas, qualified the recipient for the award of the Atlantic Star, regardless of service duration. Personnel whose required service period was terminated prematurely by death, disability or wounds due to service were also awarded the Star regardless of service duration.
Certain special conditions applied governing the award to those Naval personnel who entered operational service less than six months before the end of the War, with them receiving for the Atlantic Star provided this was their last operational theatre of the war.