Mercantile Marine War Medal

Era: WW1

This bronze medal was issued by the Board of Trade to commemorate the war services of the officers and men of the Mercantile Marine, as the Merchant Navy was then called, who served one or more voyaged through a danger zone.  It was given in bronze only to officers and men alike. 

Men who were transferred in or out of the Mercantile Marine to or from fighting services would have the entitlement to the Victory Medal and sometime the 1914 or 1914-15 Star if appropriate, and still be eligible for the Mercantile Marine War Medal. 

A few members of the Royal Navy were seconded for service with the Mercantile Marine to man defensive weapons between 4th August, 1914 and 31st December, 1915.  These men received the appropriate Star, the British War Medal and the Victory Medal, as well as the Mercantile Marine Medal.

Certain members of the Mercantile Marine joined the Royal Navy between the above dates.  They also received the four medals.

Those who completed the whole of their service at sea with the Mercantile Marine, no matter for how long or between which dates, were only awarded the Mercantile Marine Medal and the Allied Victory Medal.

Service in costal trades – government cable ships, fishermen, lightships, pilots etc also qualified of this medal.


Materials:      The majority of the British medals and clasps are made of solid silver, though some were issue 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 – 32mm wide.  Green and red divided by a thin white (representing starboard and port running lights with the masthead steaming light in the centre).  The green to be the left facing the wearer.

Mercantile Marine War Medal ribbon
Mercantile Marine War Medal ribbon

Type – Campaign Medal

Eligibility – Mercantile Marine

Awarded for – Campaign service

Campaign – First World War 1914- 1918.

Naming – Impressed in small or large sans-serif capitals.  The recipients’ first given name is often in full.

Established – 1919

Designer – Harold Stabler

Total Awarded – 133,135

Suspender – Straight (plain)

Clasps – None.

Description – 36mm in bronze, obverse has a bareheaded effigy of King George V, facing left, with the legend “GEORGIVS V BRITT.  OMN: REX ET IND: IMP:” The reverse shows bows of a steamship with a sailing ship in the right background.  There is a sinking submarine in the right foreground, which is very hard to distinguish as such.  It’s in between the right-hand wave and the sailing ship.  In exergue the inscription “FOR WAR SERVICE MERCANTILE MARINE 1914-1918” in three lines.  Around the edge of the rim is a laurel wreath.


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


Major L L Gordon ‘British Battles and Medals’

Some of the material on this page was also partially derived from

< Mercantile_Marine_War_Medal >

Which are released under the terms of


Search for a name in our archive

Please enter a surname

Small Medium Large Landscape Portrait