|The Arctic Star|
|Awarded by the Monarch of the United Kingdom and the Commonwealth realms|
|Type||Military campaign medal|
|Awarded for||Entry into operational service|
|Campaign||Battle of the Atlantic, for service north of the Arctic Circle|
|Established||19 December 2012|
|First awarded||19 March 2013|
|Order of wear|
|Next (higher)||Atlantic Star|
|Next (lower)||Air Crew Europe Star|
The Arctic Star is a military campaign medal which was instituted by the United Kingdom on 19 December 2012 for award to subjects of the British Commonwealth for service in the Second World War, specifically those who served on the Arctic Convoys north of the Arctic Circle.
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.
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 which 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.
The Arctic Star is a retrospective award, coming nearly seven decades after the end of the Second World War, and was announced in late 2012. It was formally approved by the Queen for award to those who served on the Arctic Convoys during the Second World War, and production began in early 2013.
The institution of the medal, and of the Bomber Command Clasp, was the end result of a 16-year-long campaign by Commander Eddie Grenfell, Lieutenant Commander Dick Dykes and Merchant Navy veteran Jock Dempster, who stressed that service in the arctic convoys north of the Arctic Circle was entirely different from that in the Atlantic, for which the Atlantic Star had been awarded, with different aims and different conditions which had been described by Winston Churchill as "the worst journey in the world".
The institution of the Arctic Star has been controversial, since it is the first British medal to be instituted and awarded using a dead monarch's cypher or effigy, who did not give permission for it to be instituted. The medal has also been criticised by other groups, who maintain that the veterans of the convoys had already been amply rewarded with medals for this campaign, and they should not have received special treatment over other veterans who have been denied similar recognition.
The medal was awarded for any length of operational service north of the Arctic Circle by members of the British Armed Forces and the Merchant Navy. The qualifying area is defined as 66° 32’ North Latitude and the qualifying period recognises the particular severity of the conditions experienced by those who served in the Arctic.
The inclusive qualifying period of service is 3 September 1939 to 8 May 1945, the duration of the Second World War in Europe. Though the Arctic Star is intended to recognise the service of personnel in the Arctic convoys of World War II, other members of the military and civilians may also qualify. Eligibility is defined as follows:
- Royal Navy and Merchant Navy personnel must have served anywhere at sea north of the Arctic Circle. This includes, but is not limited exclusively to, those ships which participated in, and in support of convoys to North Russia. Fleet Air Arm personnel who did not qualify by sea service may qualify under the criteria applicable to Royal Air Force personnel.
- Air crew of the Air Forces are eligible if they landed north of the Arctic Circle or served in the air over this area. Non-air crew who performed operational service in the area, for example ground crew or those who sailed with Catapult Aircraft Merchant Ships, are also eligible.
- Army personnel who served on His Majesty’s ships or in defensively equipped merchant ships qualify under the rules applying to the Navy or Merchant Navy. Personnel who took part in land operations north of the Arctic Circle are also eligible for award.
- Civilian Members of the few approved categories who qualify for Campaign Stars will be eligible so long as they met any qualifying criteria while they served in support of military operations.
- Foreign nationals who served in British or Dominion Forces such as, for example, the Royal Canadian Navy and Royal Australian Navy, are eligible for the Arctic Star so long as the individuals have not been recognised by a similar award from their own governments.
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 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.
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 in the Military Forces can, or could be, awarded to South Africans after 6 April 1952. Should the 1954 South African ruling on the order of wear of British awards be strictly applied, the position of the Arctic Star in the South African order of wear would therefore be different from the order of wear prescribed by the British Central Chancery of the Orders of Knighthood, with the result that the Arctic Star would take precedence after the Chief C.D.F. Commendation Medal of the Republic of Ciskei and before the Korea Medal of the Union of South Africa.
However, since the Arctic Star is a retrospectively instituted pre-1952 campaign medal, its position in the South African order of wear in relation to the rest of the Second World War campaign stars is as prescribed by the British Central Chancery of the Orders of Knighthood.
The set of nine campaign stars was designed by the Royal Mint engravers. The stars all have a ring suspender which 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 George VI 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 ARCTIC STAR".
The ribbon is 32 millimetres wide, with a 3½ millimetres wide Air Force blue band, a 6 millimetres wide Navy blue band, a 4 millimetres wide red band and a ¼ millimetre wide black pinstripe band, repeated in reverse order and separated by a 4½ millimetres wide white band. The three colours represent the forces which were involved in the campaign, light blue for the Air Forces, dark blue for the Navy and red for the Merchant Navy, while the central white band, edged in black, represents the Arctic.
On 28 September 2014, Håkon Nilsen, who served as torpedo commander on HNoMS Stord and took part in eighteen Murmansk convoys as well as the Normandy landings, was the first and only Norwegian war veteran to be awarded the Arctic Star posthumously.
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