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WWII medals belonging to Merchant Mariner J.Hume

Date: c 1939
Dimensions:
Overall: 100 x 130 mm, 1 mm, 0.12 kg
Medium: Copper, silver, ribbon, thread
Credit Line: ANMM Collection Gift from Veronica Fisher
Classification:Coins and medals
Object Name: Medals
Object No: 00030666

User Terms

    Description
    A group of medals awarded J.Hume for service in the Second World War.

    The group of medal includes The Pacific Star (awarded to subjects of the British Commonwealth who served in the Second World War, specifically in the Pacific Campaign from 1941 to 1945), the War Medal /Victory Medal (awarded to subjects of the British Commonwealth who had served in the Armed Forces or Merchant Navy full-time for at least 28 days between 3 September 1939 and 2 September 1945. In the Merchant Navy, the 28 days must have been served at sea) and the Australia Service Medal 1939–1945 (which recognises service by Australia's armed forces, Mercantile Marine and Volunteer Defence Corps during World War II).


    SignificanceThese medals of Mr J Hume, record a merchant mariner's service during WWII. They are also important because the recipient's name, service number and other information is engraved on them (Australian war medals were stamped or engraved with the name and number of the recipient unlike their British counterparts).
    HistoryThe donor, Ms Fisher, found the medals among her late father's effects.
    Her father, George Fisher, had been welfare officer at the Bondi RSL club and in this capacity had attended to the affairs of several deceased members who had no close relatives. Ms Fisher believes that this is how her father came into possession of J. Hume's medals.

    During WWII many Australian commercial vessels were requistioned by the governement into service for the navy. These ships were used as supply ships, hospital ships, troop ships and some as armed merchant cruisers.
    The crews of these vessels became part of the Australian Merchant Navy, although they themselves were just ordinary seamen and officially untrained for war. Merchant ships that became armed with guns were continued to be staffed by merchant crews, but the guns were operated by Defensively Equipped Merchant Ships (DEMS) crew members who were selected assigned from naval reserves. Merchant crew members were able to undertake a "three day gunnery training course" to assist the DEMS and were then paid an extra sixpence per day.
    In 1989 an Inquiry into the Needs of Australian Mariners and included a reflection and reasssment of the merchant navy roles in the wars. In her conclusion Jocelyn McGirr remarked:
    "...all merchant seamen, by virtue of their jobs, were always in areas of risk, while members of the army, navy or air force quite often went through part or all of the war at home bases without ever being in a field of combat. And while sea-going members of the navy generally went to sea in vessels designed for warfare, with armour plating and watertight sections, merchant seamen went to sea in ships not designed for warfare. In naval ships whole crews were trained to engage and fight hostile forces, and naval ships had crews up to five times the size of merchant crews, and carried medical staff and facilities. Most merchant ships were coal-fired and were considerably exposed both by day and night because of sparks and smoke trails visible for vast distances, unlike the predominantly oil-fired ships of the navy."
    (McGirr, J., 1989. Inquiry into the needs of Australian Mariners, Commonwealth and Allied veterans and Allied Mariners. Repatriation Commission, Canberra.)


















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