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Antarctic Service Medallion
Antarctic Service Medallion
By J M O'Connor
The Australian Antarctic Territory was formally declared in 1933 and in 1947 the Australian National Antarctic Research Expeditions (ANARE) was established to plan and co-ordinate exploration and research of the Antarctic.
Until the International Geophysical Year (1957-58) all members of an Australian expedition who wintered on the Antarctic continent were awarded the Imperial Polar Medal because of the emphasis given to awards being made on a team basis. However, following that year, rules for awarding of the medal were altered so that it was no longer given for service in an expedition but became more of an award for individual merit.
After assuming responsibility for the Antarctic Division in 1968, the Department of Supply considered that those who wintered over should receive some special recognition. Following discussions with the Prime Minister's and External Affairs Departments an exclusive Departmental award, the Antarctic Service Medallion (known unofficially as the Winterer's Medal) was conceived and subsequently approved by the Minister of Supply for issue by the Antarctic Division to those who wintered over in Antarctica (i.e. south of 60 degrees south) and at Heard Island. Eligibility was extended to include Macquarie Island in 1973.
Wintering is defined as at least six continuous months and such period must include Midwinter's Day ) June 22) with the only exception being if a person dies during a wintering. The medallion is awarded posthumously.
The first style of the medallion with a certificate was awarded for service at one of the Antarctic continental stations from 1968 although the actual distribution of medallions was not made until August, 1971. Service at the sub-continental station of Macquarie Island being awarded from 1973. In 1988 modifications were made whereby individual medallions were struck for each station with the station name incorporated into the design.
The medallions, made by the Royal Australian Mint, are issued in a fitted presentation case with the Australian Coat-of-Arms on the front. The hinged case can be dark blue or black made from vinyl in an imitation leather style or in a least one year, namely 1976, it was made from a royal blue velvet type material. The Coat-of-Arms is coloured gold in some years and silver in others.
The inscription on the white silk lining inside the lid matches the Department name as is on the medallion except from 1988 onwards in which case the inscription is "Australian Antarctic Division" as compared to the medallion legend of the Antarctic Division.
The first issue of medallion for the years 1968, 1969 and 1970 was distributed in August, 1971. Thereafter, as a general rule, the medallions were brought by ship with the changeover staff and handed over by the Voyage Leader, usually an Antarctic Division staff member, the the leader of the Winterers during the changeover ceremony. The Voyage Leader thanks the Winterers, welcomes the changeover staff and congratulates the Station Leader who then hands out the medallions. An exception to the rule occurred with the one-off wintering at Heard Island in 1992 as there was no changeover ceremony.
In several years service certificates of various designs and sizes have also been issued to winterers.
Following a review of the Australian Honours and Awards System, it was decided in 1997 to award this medallion retrospectively to those Winterers who had previously received no recognition either by way of an Imperial Polar Medal or an Antarctic Service Medallion.
As a result, medallions are to be issued in 1998 to expeditioners who wintered at Mawson, Davis or Wilkes in the years from 1959 to 1967, Heard Island from 1948 to 1954 and Macquarie Island from 1948 to 1972. No service certificates will be issued. Expeditioners who wintered more that once will receive a medallion for each wintering. Medallions will be issued posthumously to next-of-kin.
The medallions to be issued are identical with those currently on isssue for each respective station with a new medallion of the current type being made with the station name "Wilkes"which station had been replaced by Casey in 1969. Wilkes never had its own medallion and Winterers there in 1968 had been issued with a medallion of the first type issued namely, Mawson, Davis, Casey obverse but with "Wilkes" engraved on the rim after the recipient's name. The same medallion type had also been issued for the 1968 Winterers at Amery Ice Shelf and Repstat (replacement station for Wilkes) with the respective names engraved on the rim being "Amery" and "Repstat".
A large globe depicting the Southern Hemisphere, and upon which is shown the South Polar circle and a series of three parallel and six meridian lines. In the upper section of the globe is Australia, the top of which stops at the edge of the globe. Below and to the right is New Zealand, lower and to the left and right are small dots representing Heard Island and Macquarie Island and at the bottom is the whole continent of Antarctica with Australia's territory highlighted with a mottled effect. The bottom right edge of the Antarctic continent stops at the edge of the globe. To the bottom left are the designer's initials 'V.V." (Vanbola Veinberg). Around the border is the legend. 'AUSTRALIAN NATIONAL ANTARCTIC RESEARCH EXPEDITIONS' at the top and "*MAWSON . DAVIS *CASEY " at the base.
As for Type 1 but with the following variations.
The sub-continental islands are depicted and named with the wording. "HEARD I." and "MACQUARIE I.".
The whole Antarctic cntinent is replaced by that portion of the continent from Queen Mary Land in the east across to the edge of West Antarctica with Australia's Territory highlighted in a mottled effect.
The designers initials 'V.V." are moved to the bottom right.
The station names at the base are replaced by 'MACQUARIE ISLAND"
As for Type 1 but with the following variations,
There are five parallel lines instead of three.
The top of Australia stops at the top parallel line instead of at the edge of the globe.
The bottom right edge of the Antarctic continent is inside the bottom paralled line instead of at the edge of the globe.
New Zealand is not depicted.
There are no designer's initials.
At the base is the name of the station, (station name i.e. CASEY or DAVIS or HEARD ISLAND or MACQUARIE ISLAND or MAWSON or WILKES).
In the centre is the Australian Coat-of-Arms above a scroll bearing the word "AUSTRALIA" all resting on branches of wattle. Around the border is the legend of which there are nine different types,
Metal, Bronze matt finish. From 1988 bronze antique finish.
Impressed or engraved. In at lease one year (1992) engraved in a calligraphic style. The details recorded are,
With Type-1 Obverse. Name, Station Name and Year, Note: Amery Ice Shelf abbreviated to Amery.
With Type-2 Obverse. Name and Year.
With Type-3 Obverse. Name and Year or Name only.
Available to be issued retrospectively in 1998.
*Repstat (replacement station for Wilkes) was not officially declared Casey until February, 1969. medallions have REPSTAT engraved on the rim.
Note:- This article is an excerpt from a series of books being prepared by the author, John O'Connor, on Honours, Decorations and Awards to Australians
Photos Fred Elliott
Much of the information as regards the various types of medallions issued over the years have been obtained through the generous help of the following recipients: Denise Allen, Col Christiansen, Max Corry, John Gillies, Steve Harris, Malcolm Kirton, Mike Knox-Little, Rod MacKenzie, Tom Maggs, Bob Nicholson, Mick Phillips, David Slip, Ross Walsh and Warwick Williams. Mary Mulligan and Suzanne Stallman of the Antarctic Division have also been of great assistance.
The numbers issued have come from tables and lists compiled by Max Corry using lists of ANARE wintering parties supplied by the Division.
This article was first published in AURORA December 1998 issue.