Catalogue description Registry of Shipping and Seamen: Database of World War II Medals issued to Merchant Seamen

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Details of BT 395
Reference: BT 395
Title: Registry of Shipping and Seamen: Database of World War II Medals issued to Merchant Seamen

At the conclusion of World War 2 an initial medal assessment was carried out and medal papers were raised including details of a seaman’s service. These were sent to ports to await the signature of the veteran, as to the accuracy of the information, and then returned to the RGSS. Medals were not automatically issued but had to be claimed by the veteran. These papers are still retained by the RSS but, due to the ravages of time and the process, are not now totally complete.

This series contains a database of World War II Medals issued to Merchant Seamen 1946-2002 which is a record of medals claimed and issued. This gives details of the ribbons and medals issued to individual seamen for their service in World War 2. It records each seaman's name plus, usually, his discharge book number and date and place of birth as well as the medals, ribbons and clasps issued together with a reference to the medal papers file.

The medals awarded are indicated by:

  • 1939 1939-1945 Star.
  • AT Atlantic Star.
  • AF Africa Star.
  • PA Pacific Star.
  • BU Burma Star.
  • FR France and Germany Star.
  • WM War Medal.
  • IT Italy Star.
  • CL Clasp.
  • OLE Oak Leaf.

A cross (×) drawn through a symbol indicates the issue of that medal; a circle (O) drawn through a symbol indicates that only the ribbon for that medal has been issued. If a cross and a circle have been used then both a medal and a ribbon have been issued. An R sometimes appears and signifies that an application for that medal was reviewed and refused.

Other terms may be found on certain entries:

  • DNA: Director of Naval Accounts (the Royal Navy medal issuing authority) or, more recently, Do Not Authorise.
  • Refer to Aust: the medals were not issued to an individual by the Registry of Shipping but referred on to the Australian authorities.
  • Refer to NZ: the medals were not issued to an individual by the Registry of Shipping but referred on to the New Zealand authorities.

Ribbons were usually issued at the port by the Mercantile Marine Office; the medal normally followed 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. For those trying to discover whether a medal was issued, or was an unclaimed entitlement, then the RSS should be contacted, before undertaking lengthy searches at The National Archives, as they have the most up-to-date records.

Digital copies of Merchant seamen’s campaign medal records 1939-1945 can be searched and downloaded.

Date: 1946-2002

The records are arranged alphabetically, thereby preserving their original administrative format.

Related material:

Papers relating to applications for war medals, in particular World War 2 Campaign Stars are in BT 386

See also BT 399

Held by: The National Archives, Kew
Former reference in its original department: Medal Roll
Legal status: Public Record(s)
Language: English

Registry of Shipping and Seamen, 1992-

Physical description: 1 electronic document(s)
Access conditions: Available in digital format unless otherwise stated
Immediate source of acquisition:

Registry of Shipping and Seamen

Custodial history: These records were created by the Registry of Shipping and Seamen and it predecessors and have remained in their custody throughout their life.
Accumulation dates: File series ran from 1946 to 2002
Selection and destruction information: These records have been selected on the basis they reflect the economic, social and demographic condition of the UK, as documented by the state's dealings with individuals, communities and organisations outside its own formal boundaries ( of PRO's acquisition policy).
Accruals: Updates to the database should become available periodically as the RSS sends them.
Administrative / biographical background:

The Medal Roll was created at the end of WWII as an index to the medal papers held by the Registry of Seaman and Shipping.

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