The ANZAC Commemorative Medallion
THE ANZAC COMMEMORATIVE MEDALLION
By A.E. PROWSE
This medallion (referred to in New Zealand as the Gallipoli Medallion), has been struck to reward the survivors of the ANZAC troops who fought in the Gallipoli campaign during the First World War, and to honour the families of those who died there.
The Australian and New Zealand Governments first announced in August 1966 that they intended to honour the deeds of those who took part in that campaign, 51 years after the historic landing.
All members of the N.Z. Expeditionary Force (men and women) who left Egypt for the Dardanelles operational areas between April and December 1915, are eligible for the medallion and its replica in the form of a lapel badge. The immediate next-of-kin of those who died at Gallipoli or of Gallipoli veterans who have died since, are entitled to the medallion only. The medallion has to be applied for and has been issued to women. Apart from members of the Armed Forces (including the Army Nursing Service) it is available to members of the Merchant Navy who manned hospital ships or transports under Australian or N.Z. registry which actually entered the operational zone.
The medallion and badge were designed by the well known Australian artist Raymond Ewers. The obverse design features Simpson and his donkey carrying a wounded soldier. It was based on a watercolour by 4/26A Sapper H. Moore-Jones, NZE, who fought on the ridges above Anzac Cove until overcome with exhaustion. He was later re-employed as an artist and made numerous sketches of the men and actions in and around the Gallipoli Peninsula. Three are three paintings by Mr Moore-Jones of a stretcher bearer and his donkey. One is in the Auckland Commercial Travellers Club and the second is in an Australian Art Gallery. The third is at the Aigantighe Gallery, Timaru.
The inspiration behind the painting was the good work done by two Anzacs, one a New Zealander and the other an Australian. On the night of 25th April, 1915 the Australian, Pte John Simpson Kirkpatrick, D.C.M., of the 3rd Australian Field Ambulance, hit upon the idea of using a donkey to move men wounded about the legs. Pte. Kirkpatrick, better known to the Anzacs as Simpson or “Murphy”, moved a great number of men in this way from the head of Monash valley to the beach before he was killed on 19th May, 1915. The task of evacuating wounded by donkey was then continued by a New Zealander, Pte. R.A. Henderson. Spr. Moore-Jones based his paintings upon a photograph of Pte. Henderson and a donkey taken by a fellow New Zealander, Mr I.G. Jackson.
Although Simpson was killed after some three weeks and replaced by the New Zealander, the legend had grown around the Australian and most people are under the impression that it was solely he who was associated with this Samaritan work. True to the Anzac tradition though, this task was shared by these two brave men. It should be appreciated that the movement of wounded by donkey became fairly general later. The supplies of ammunition, food and water from the beach were taken to forward positions on donkeys and walking or mildly injured were normally given a “lift” on the empty donkeys or mules on the way back.
The obverse design is circular, surmounted by St. Edward's Crown. Below the main design is a wreath of gum leaves (Australian Eucalyptus), below which is a scroll bearing the word “ANZAC”.
The circular portion of the reverse has a map of Australia and New Zealand with the Southern Cross. Beneath which is a wreath of fern leaves (representing New Zealand) and a blank scroll allowing for the inclusion of the recipient's name.
The medallion was struck in Australia, and all New Zealand supplies are being ordered direct through Australian Army. Measuring 76mm x 50mm the medallion was first minted in March/April 1967 and was available to Australians from that date. However, the first medallions to New Zealanders were not distributed until 14th September, 1967. All applications and distribution of the medallion in New Zealand is being handled by Army H.Q.
As at the 31st March, 1969, 2,806 medals and badges have been issued to veterans (including two to women), and 1,469 to next-of-kin. Of the 8556 New Zealanders who landed on the Gallipoli, 2721 were killed. Out of the 5835 survivors therefore almost half lived a further 50 odd years to claim their medallions as veterans.
The medallion is engraved on the reverse with the recipient's initials and surname only. Because of insufficient space on the scroll, the rank and number have had to be omitted. All the engraving for New Zealander's is being done in the R.N.Z.E.M.E. workshops at Trentham Military Camp.
Minister of Defence has pleasure in presenting the enclosed awards with the compliments of the Prime Minister and New Zealand Government and in sincere appreciation of loyal service rendered in the Dardanelles Campaign of 1915”.
The citation, headed with the NZ Coat of Arms and followed by the recipient's number and name, would be the only way of distinguishing between awards of the two countries. The medallion is identical for both nations, but conditions of award differ slightly between the two; the Australian issuances in the main being a little harder to obtain because of a stricter interpretation of the operational area. The Australian citation is of a similar size but with different text: “In / Commemoration of the heroic deeds / of the men of / ANZAC / at / GALLIPOLI in 1915 / and / in recognition of the great debt / owned by all Australians.” In the corner is a note to the effect that the medallion is issued “with the compliments of the Government of the Commonwealth of Australia”. The medallion itself (weighing 4Ω ounces) is issued in a handsome black case lined with purple velvet.
Veterans only, receive in addition to the large medallion, a lapel badge. The badge is an exact, though smaller, replica of the “Simpson” side of the large medallion. The badge measuring 34.5 mm x 23mm is engraved on the reverse with the recipient's regimental number.
One of the biggest problems associated with the issuing of the medallion, is who constitute immediate next-of-kin. Army H.Q. in N.Z. have prepared a form asking next-of-kin to show their relationship to the deceased, in order to overcome this problem. In all cases, however, only one medallion may be issued in respect of a deceased veteran. The person first entitled is his widow, followed by surviving sons in order of birth, then daughters in order of birth; or if unmarried, by his brothers, then his sisters in the same order. If none of these circumstances apply, then the prime beneficiary in his estate becomes eligible. Only in special circumstances will entitlement be approved for grandchildren or other beyond the first line of descent or succession.
Some veterans, however, despite this medallion being better than nothing at all, are still not satisfied. They complain that it is too heavy to carry in a pocket, that it has no method of suspension, and most of all that it has no ribbon and therefore it can not be worn on the ribbon bar with other medals and/or ribbons. Another compliant is in the naming, especially for those veterans who have the more common surnames. They contend that the serial number and rank should also be shown, but of course, lack of space on the scroll precludes this.
As a collector's piece this medallion will be rare. Veterans after waiting 52 years for some tangible recognition for their services on Gallipoli, are not likely to surrender their medals in any great haste. No doubt they will become prized possessions to be handed down to succeeding generations. The same would apply to next-of-kin. To take the trouble of applying for the medallion as next-of-kin obviously means that they wish to honour the memory of their loved ones. These next-of-kin medallions, if anything, will be more prized than those issued to veterans.
This page was last reviewed 29 September, 2011 and is current.