Atlantic Star Medal


Awarded for service in World War Two, the Atlantic Star is a campaign medal of the British Commonwealth.

The Star was to commemorate the Battle of the Atlantic which took place between 3rd September, 1939 and 8th May, 1945, while Allied convoys transporting goods and valuables from America and the colonies were under attack by German U-boats. The medal was granted for ‘six months’ afloat in the Atlantic, Home Waters, parts of the South Atlantic and convoys to Russia.

Awarded to personnel of the Royal Navy and Merchant Navy, provided they had earned the 1939-45 Star for six months service in operational areas.  The locations and areas differ from the Royal Navy and Merchant Navy to qualify for this campaign medal.  Special conditions apply governing this award for those Naval personnel entering service less than six months before the end of the qualifying period, provided it was the last operational theatre that they would serve. 

The Atlantic Star was also awarded to the R.A.F and aircrew who took part in operations against the enemy at sea within the qualifying areas, subject to two months service in an operational unit.  However, the 1939-1945 Star medal must also be earned by the recipient before commencing qualifying service for the Atlantic Star medal.

In common with other campaign stars, the Atlantic Star was awarded to those whose service period was terminated by death, disability or wounding.  Also the award of a gallantry medal or Mention in Despatches led to an immediate award.

Due to British uniform regulations, neither the France and German Star nor the Air Crew Europe Star would be worn by a recipient of the Atlantic Star.  The recipient of this medal could wear a silver rose emblem on the ribbon of the first star when wearing the ribbons without the medals attached.  Due to the recipient only being allowed to wear one emblem there is no way of telling whether they qualified for the Air Crew Europe or France Germany Star as the pattern is the same for both.  When the Atlantic Star is worn the appropriate clasp/bar can be fitted to the ribbon with the title ‘Air Crew Europe’ or ‘France and Germany’, however regulations state that only the first clasp earned can be worn with the medal.

The qualifying period for this campaign medal was 3rd September, 1939 to 8th May, 1945.

Qualifying details for the Navy.

  1. For service in the Russian convoys or west of longitude 20 degrees east.
  2. The recipient’s period of qualification for the France Germany Star could not run concurrently with the Atlantic Star.
  3. Prisoners of War would also qualify providing they had already completed the qualifying period of the 1939-45 Star, then had been captured as they begun to earn the Atlantic Star.

Qualifying details for the Merchant Navy.

  1. The recipient must first have earned the 1939-45 Star and there must have been a further six months service anywhere at sea between 3rd September, 1939, and 8th May, 1945.  This must include service in the South Atlantic west of longitude 20 degrees east, Home Waters, and serving in the convoys to North Russia during the second period of the six months.
  2. For service afloat in fishing vessels and certain types of coastal craft recipients would not be awarded the Atlantic Star, although they were recognised for the 1939-45 Star.
  3. Prisoners of War would also qualify for the award, providing they had completed six months service for the 1939-45 Star and completed at least one voyage through the specified area.

Qualifying details for the R.A.F

  1. Air crew members had taken part in active operations within the specified areas, on condition that they had completed two months service in an operation unit after earning the 1939-45 Star.
  2. Awarded for four months service in an operational unit or an air crew member, providing that they qualified for the Star.
  3. Any time spent as a Prisoner of War was not counted, unless the recipient had completed the period necessary to earn the 1939-45 Star and then been captured.


Materials:   The majority of the British medals and clasps are made of solid silver, though some were issued in bronze versions, mainly to Indian non-combatants.  The majority of the British campaign awards are circular, usually 36mm in diameter.

Ribbons:     Medals are worn suspended from their own specific ribbons. These were first made of silk but cotton was increasingly used as the nineteenth century developed.  Their own colours often have a symbolic significance: the equal stripes of the ‘1939 to 1945 Star,’ for example, are dark blue to represent the service of the Royal and Merchant Navies, red, to represent that of the Armies and light blue to represent that of Air Forces.

Ribbon width can vary slightly though it is generally 32mm wide.

Ribbon –  Shaded watered stripe of blue, white and sea green to signify the Atlantic.  Worn with the blue edge furthest from the left shoulder

Atlantic Star ribbon
Atlantic Star ribbon

Type – Campaign medal

Eligibility – Six months operational service (two months for Aircrew).

Awarded for – Service

Campaign – Battle of the Atlantic 3rd September, 1939, to 8th May, 1945

Designer – The Star campaign medals were designed by the Mint engravers.

Naming – All issued unnamed by the British Government.  Although Stars issued to Australian and South African personnel have recipient names impressed.

Description – The Atlantic Star is a six–pointed star of yellow copper zinc alloy, with a height of 44mm and a maximum width of 38mm. The obverse of the star is comparable in design to the Gwalior Star from the campaign of 1843.  The centre of the star is the Royal Cipher of King George VI, surmounted by a crown overlaid on a circlet which bears the title of the award ‘The Atlantic Star’.  The reverse of this medal is the same as other WWII Star campaign medals and plain, with no naming. 

Clasps – two issued

Clasps are commonly, although not strictly, also referred to as ‘bars’.  They are single-faced metal bars carried on a ribbon attached to the medal, indicating service in a particular campaign or battle.  The clasps carry side flanges to enable them to be attached to the medal and riveted to each other, so that new ones can be attached as earned.  Usually the first earned Clasp is borne nearest to the medal, so that the latest earned should be at the top, although they can be found in the wrong order. 

Air Crew Europe.

Awarded to those who subsequently became entitled to the Air Crew Europe Star.

France and Germany.

Awarded to those who subsequently became entitled to the France and Germany Star.


This guide will help you through all the parts and descriptions of military medals


Major L L Gordon ‘British Battles and Medals’


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