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Identification token from HMAS SYDNEY (I)

Date: before 1916
Overall (diameter): 24 mm
Medium: Silver
Credit Line: ANMM Collection Gift from John Gunson
Object Name: Token
Object No: 00047958
Related Place:Indian Ocean,

User Terms

    This identification token was fashioned from a German Empire 1 Mark silver coin and details the service number, initials, surname, religion, rank and ship of British RN sailor Able Seaman William James Tamblin who served in HMAS SYDNEY (I) between 1913 and 1917. The coin was most likely recovered from the wreck of the German raider SMS EMDEN after it was defeated by SYDNEY in November 1914 and fashioned into an identity tag that also served as a souvenir of the battle.
    SignificanceFollowing the successful action against the cruiser EMDEN off the Cocos Islands in 1914, Mexican coins recovered from the German vessel were turned into medals and given to many of the SYDNEY's crew. It may be that this token was made from a coin recovered from the EMDEN, making it a practical souvenir of the naval event.
    HistoryTokens and tags such as this (now commonly called dog tags) were originally used as far back as the 1860s and 1870s during the American Civil War, the Spanish-American War, and the Franco-Prussian War for the identification of the holder if found dead or wounded; the inclusion of relgion was in order to administer the correct Last Rites if required. The British Army and the Commonwealth forces in Canada, Australia and New Zealand issued id (identification) tags from the beginning of World War I. They were red or green fibre discs worn around the neck and contained rank, surname, initials, force number and religious affiliation. The Australian Defence Force currently issues octagonal or circular discs with AS (denoting Australia), service number, name and initials, religion and blood group.

    This token was fabricated from a German Empire 1 Mark silver coin. Able Seaman Tamblin's official number (7908) and name are inscribed on the obverse of the coin. Born in Plymouth in 1885, Tamblin joined the Royal Navy (RN) in 1903 but was lent to the Royal Australian Navy (RAN) in March 1913. He joined HMAS SYDNEY (I) at Portsmouth at the time of its commissioning in June 1913 and served aboard until 24 November 1917. It was during this period that HMAS SYDNEY sank the German raider SMS EMDEN (9 November 1914) in battle off the Cocos-Keeling Islands in the Indian Ocean.

    William Tamblin's service record notes that he was also present at the taking of German New Guinea on 11 September 1914. At the end of his service with the RAN in 1917 Tamblin reverted to service in the RN.

    Additional Titles

    Web title: Identification token from HMAS SYDNEY (I)

    Assigned title: Identification token of service aboard HMAS SYDNEY (1)

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