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South Atlantic medal
South Atlantic Medal obv.jpgSouth Atlantic Medal rev.jpg
Awarded by the United Kingdom
Type Campaign medal
Eligibility British military, Merchant Navy and civilian
Awarded for Service in the South Atlantic, during the Falklands War
Campaign Falklands War
Description Cupronickel disk, 36mm diameter.
Clasps No clasp, a rosette instead.
South Atlantic Medal BAR.svg

South Atlantic Medal w rosette BAR.svg
ribbon bars of the medal

The South Atlantic Medal is a British campaign medal awarded to British military personnel and civilians for service in the Falklands War of 1982, between the United Kingdom and Argentina; 29,700 were issued. The South Atlantic Medal Association was formed in 1997.


The medal is a coin, made of cupronickel, 36 mm in diameter,[1] and was struck by the Royal Mint and issued by the Army Medal Office, Droitwich. The obverse side bears a crowned effigy of the The Queen. Like a modern British coin, it has the abbreviated form of ELIZABETH II DEI GRATIA REGINA FIDEI DEFENSOR ("Elizabeth II, by the grace of God, Queen and Defender of the Faith") on the border and the Queen is facing to the right.

The reverse side has the Falkland Islands' coat of arms, which bears the words "DESIRE THE RIGHT" (an allusion to English explorer John Davis' ship, "Desire"). A laurel wreath and the words "SOUTH ATLANTIC MEDAL" make up the border.

The ribbon has a central stripe of "sea green" flanked on each side by stripes of white and "empire blue", shaded and watered.[2] The additional rosette that could be awarded was worn on the ribbon.

Awarding the medal

To be awarded the medal with the additional rosette, the recipient would have been required to do one days service within 35° and 60° South latitude or do at least one operational sortie south of Ascension Island, between 2 April and 14 June 1982 (April 2 being the date of the Argentine invasion, June 14 being date of Argentine surrender).

The medal alone was awarded for 30 days continuous or accumulated service between 7° and 60° South latitude between 2 April and 14 June 1982 (completing no later than 12 July 1982).[2]

The rosette remains an unusual feature for a British medal and was used in this case because otherwise fewer than two hundred medals would have been issued to the Royal Air Force. The vast majority of the medals were issued with a rosette whereas over 90% of the medals issued to the Royal Air Force are without the rosette and thus rarer, the recipients having been stationed on Ascension Island, some 3,300 nmi (6,100 km) north of the Falkland Islands and the war zone.


A pair of South Atlantic Medals. The one on the left shows the front of the medal and the rosette can be seen

Fewer than 29,700 people were awarded the medal, including The Prince Andrew. Members of the Merchant Navy and civilians were also eligible for the medal, such as journalist Michael Nicholson.[3]

Branch # of medals issued[4]
British Army 7,000
Royal Air Force 2,000
Royal Navy 13,000
Royal Marines 3,700
Royal Fleet Auxiliary 2,000
Merchant Navy/Civilian 2,000

The initials and surname, rank or rating, service number and unit of the recipient are diamond engraved on the edge of the medal though those for Royal Navy officers, as was the tradition, did not include the service number.

Distinct recipients

See also


  1. "South Atlantic Medal 1982". Retrieved 2008-01-30. 
  2. 2.0 2.1 "Ministry of Defence | Defence For... | South Atlantic". Retrieved 2008-01-30. 
  3. "Medals of Britain's Forgotten Wars". Retrieved 2008-01-30. 
  4. "From the Sea - Freedom". Archived from the original on 2008-01-23. Retrieved 2010-10-13. 
  5. - Sengupta, Kim "The Falklands Ceremony is too late for 'abandoned' Veterans", 18 June 2007 - The Independent
  6. John Geddes, Highway to Hell (An SAS Veteran's Bloody Account on the Private Army in Iraq) - Arrow Books, Random House, 2007, Page 180. ISBN 9780099499466.
  7. Tom Read, Freefall, Pages 112-123 (Little Brown, Edition 1, 1998). ISBN 0-316-64303-3.

External links

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