|The Atlantic Star|
|Awarded by the Monarch of the United Kingdom and the Dominions of the British Commonwealth, and Emperor of India|
|Type||Military campaign medal|
|Awarded for||180 days of operational service or
60 days of operational flying
|Campaign||Battle of the Atlantic|
|Clasps||AIR CREW EUROPE
FRANCE AND GERMANY
|Order of wear|
|Next (higher)||1939–1945 Star|
|Next (lower)||Arctic Star|
Air Crew Europe Star
France and Germany Star
Ribbon bar without and with rosette
The Atlantic Star is a military campaign medal, instituted by the United Kingdom in May 1945 for award to subjects of the British Commonwealth for service in the Second World War, specifically those that took part in the Battle of the Atlantic, the longest continuous campaign of the war.
Two clasps were instituted to be worn on the medal ribbon, the Air Crew Europe Clasp and the France and Germany Clasp.
The Second World War Stars
Altogether eight campaign stars and nine clasps were initially instituted for campaign service during the Second World War. On 8 July 1943 the 1939–1945 Star and the Africa Star were the first two of these Stars to be instituted. One more campaign star, the Arctic Star, and one more clasp, the Bomber Command Clasp, were belatedly added on 26 February 2013, more than sixty-seven years after the end of the war.
Only one of these campaign stars, the 1939–1945 Star, covered the full duration of the Second World War from its outbreak on 3 September 1939 to the victory over Japan on 2 September 1945.
No-one could be awarded more than five (now six) campaign stars and no-one could be awarded more than one clasp to any one campaign star. Five of the nine (now ten) clasps were the equivalents of their namesake campaign stars and were awarded for the same respective campaigns as those stars, to be worn on the ribbon of that campaign star of the applicable group that had been earned first. The maximum of six possible campaign stars are the following:
- The 1939–1945 Star with, if awarded, either the Battle of Britain Clasp or the Bomber Command Clasp.
- Only one of the Atlantic Star, Air Crew Europe Star or France and Germany Star and, if awarded, the first to be earned respectively of the Air Crew Europe Clasp, France and Germany Clasp or Atlantic Clasp, to be worn on the ribbon of that one of these three campaign stars to have been first earned and awarded.
- The Arctic Star.
- The Africa Star with, if awarded, the first to be earned of the North Africa 1942–43 Clasp, 8th Army Clasp or 1st Army Clasp.
- Either the Pacific Star or Burma Star or, if awarded, either the Burma Clasp or Pacific Clasp respectively, to be worn on the ribbon of that one of these two campaign stars to have been first earned and awarded.
- The Italy Star.
Since only the first of the Atlantic Star, Air Crew Europe Star and France and Germany Star to be earned could be awarded to any one individual, the possible Star and Clasp combinations for these three campaign stars are:
- The Atlantic Star with either the Air Crew Europe Clasp or the France and Germany Clasp.
- The Air Crew Europe Star with either the France and Germany Clasp or the Atlantic Clasp.
- The France and Germany Star with the Atlantic Clasp. As a result of the different date ranges involved, the earlier period Air Crew Europe Clasp could not be added to the later period France and Germany Star.
The Battle of the Atlantic took place between 3 September 1939 and 8 May 1945, as German U boats attacked convoys transporting vital supplies from America and the Colonies to Britain. Battleships of the Royal Navy and aircraft of the Royal Air Force escorted these convoys, hunted the U boats and, despite some notable successes by the U boats, won a comprehensive victory in the Atlantic.
The Atlantic Star was instituted in May 1945 to honour those who took part in the Battle of the Atlantic and was intended primarily for award to those who served in shipping convoys and their escorts and anti-submarine forces, as well as to those who served on fast merchant ships that sailed alone. Two clasps were instituted to be worn on the Atlantic Star's medal ribbon, the Air Crew Europe Clasp and the France and Germany Clasp.
British uniform regulations stipulated that no one person could be awarded more than one clasp to any one campaign star, and neither the Air Crew Europe Star nor the France and Germany Star could be awarded to a recipient of the Atlantic Star. Subsequent entitlement to either of these two stars was denoted by the award of either the Air Crew Europe Clasp or the France and Germany Clasp to the Atlantic Star. Regulations further stipulated that only the first clasp earned could be worn with the medal.
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 immediate award of the Atlantic Star, regardless of service duration. Personnel whose required qualifying service period in the qualifying areas was terminated prematurely by their death, disability or wounding due to service were awarded the Star regardless of service duration.
Certain special conditions also applied governing the award of the Atlantic Star for those Naval personnel who had entered service in the qualifying sea area less than six months before the end of the qualifying period, provided it was the last operational theatre in which they served.
Order of wear
Campaign Medals and Stars are not listed by name in the order of wear prescribed by the British Central Chancery of the Orders of Knighthood, but are all grouped together as taking precedence after the Queen's Medal for Chiefs and before the Polar Medals, in order of the date of the campaign for which awarded.
The order of wear of the nine campaign stars was determined firstly by their respective campaign start dates, secondly by the campaign's duration and thirdly by their dates of institution.
- The 1939–1945 Star, from 3 September 1939 to 2 September 1945, the full duration of the Second World War.
- The Atlantic Star, from 3 September 1939 to 8 May 1945, the duration of the Battle of the Atlantic and the War in Europe.
- The Arctic Star, from 3 September 1939 to 8 May 1945, the duration of the Battle of the Atlantic and the War in Europe.
- The Air Crew Europe Star, from 3 September 1939 to 5 June 1944, the period until D-Day minus one.
- The Africa Star, from 10 June 1940 to 12 May 1943, the duration of the North African Campaign.
- The Pacific Star, from 8 December 1941 to 2 September 1945, the duration of the Pacific War.
- The Burma Star, from 11 December 1941 to 2 September 1945, the duration of the Burma Campaign.
- The Italy Star, from 11 June 1943 to 8 May 1945, the duration of the Italian Campaign.
- The France and Germany Star, from 6 June 1944 to 8 May 1945, the duration of the Northwest Europe Campaign.
- British order of wear
With effect from 6 April 1952, when a new South African set of decorations and medals was instituted to replace the British awards used to date, the older British decorations and medals applicable to South Africa continued to be worn in the same order of precedence but, with the exception of the Victoria Cross, took precedence after all South African orders, decorations and medals awarded to South Africans on or after that date.
The Arctic Star, the Queen Elizabeth II Coronation Medal and the Queen's Medal for Champion Shots can or could be awarded to South Africans after 6 April 1952. The position of the Arctic Star in the South African order of wear is therefore different from the order prescribed by the British Central Chancery of the Orders of Knighthood and, as a result, the Atlantic Star takes precedence after the 1939–1945 Star and before the Air Crew Europe Star.
- South African order of wear
The set of nine campaign stars was designed by the Royal Mint engravers. The stars all have a ring suspender that passes through an eyelet formed above the uppermost point of the star. They are six–pointed stars, struck in yellow copper zinc alloy to fit into a 44 millimetres diameter circle, with a maximum width of 38 millimetres and 50 millimetres high from the bottom point of the star to the top of the eyelet.
The obverse has 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 is plain and, as with the other Second World War campaign medals, a no-engraving policy was applied by all but three British Commonwealth countries. The recipient's name was impressed on the reverse for Australians, Indians and South Africans, in the case of South Africans the recipient's force number, initials and surname in block capitals.
Both clasps were struck in bronze and have a frame with an inside edge that resembles the perforated edge of a postage stamp. They are inscribed "AIR CREW EUROPE" and "FRANCE AND GERMANY" respectively and were designed to be sewn onto the medal's ribbon. Regulations only allow one clasp, the first earned, to be worn with the Star. When the ribbon is worn alone a silver rosette is worn on the ribbon bar to denote the award of a clasp.
The ribbon is 32 millimetres wide with shaded and watered bands of blue, white and sea-green, with the colours representing the colours of the Atlantic Ocean. The ribbons for this medal and the Defence Medal as well as those of the other Second World War campaign stars, with the exception of the Arctic Star, were devised by King George VI.
- 1939–1945 Star
- Arctic Star
- Air Crew Europe Star
- Africa Star
- Pacific Star
- Burma Star
- Italy Star
- France and Germany Star
- Defence Medal
- War Medal
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