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Service Medals Melbourne

Medal mounting from people who are passionate about service history

Information and stories from the medal-mounting desk of Neville Crawford


and will be fully illustrated shortly

They react to the environment, humidity, pollution, gases etc. and even sweat from handling can etch in fingerprints.

  • Tarnishing is evidence of the metal attempting to revert to the metals original state.

  • Metals attack each other by rubbing and hitting each other when worn, or by electrolysis (or reduction) where the ions travel up from the chain from the base to noble metals, the noble metals in effect cannibalize those lower down the chain.

The aim of proper mounting is to conserve the medals in their current state so they can be worn or displayed with pride.


Our mounting techniques will differ from many others offering this service and in principle we follow that of the Australian War Memorial and the Department of Defence.

Most metals are given a protective coating after manufacture however usage over time and cleaning can remove this. The naming of medals also breaks this protective coating and provides a concentrated entry point for corrosion. Continual cleaning will remove the sharpness of detail in the medal and in the case of the WWI Victory medal even remove the gold plating.

"Google" Australian War Memorial/Care of Medals for the basic details as to how we look after your medals.

STEP 1. Strip old lacquer and grime

STEP 2. Minimal clean to preserve integrity of the medal. Over-cleaning removes metal and detail

STEP 3. Wash in methylated spirits to remove any residual oils

STEP 4. Coat in Incralac to provide a protective coating

RIBBONS - Medals often had their ribbons changed a number of times in their life and we normally fit new ribbons, however if you have medals with original silk ribbon (e.g.WWI) in good condition, we like to maintain them but it is best they are not actually worn as they are quite fragile. Before reusing, we dry-clean the original ribbon.

MOUNTING STYLES - There are two styles, Swing (or Service) and Court Mount.

If you care about your medals, Court Mounting is the only option as the medals are stitched securely to an archival backing so they can't move about damaging each other and rubbing off the protective coatings. This Member of Australia Medal (AM) has only been worn once!!

The damage to the reverse side clearly shows all the scratches and damage to the medal and the engraved name caused by the adjoining medal both hitting and rubbing against it.

Damaged Member of Australia Medal with bad scratches to the name caused by other medals hitting it when worn.

Service medals depicted as worn with damage being caused by every step taken!

Court mounting prevents

this type of damage

(See at right)

Note -The points of WWII stars

causes similar damage to this

and shows up on the adjoining

Defence and War Medals.

A Court Mounted trio of full size medals, including a Member of Australia, and a miniature group as well.

The majority of medal mounters stick their ribbons down with double-sided tape something the War Memorial warns against. This prevents the ribbons from draping properly and showing their fullness.

Others stick the medals down with silicone and other adhesives which can be extremely difficult to remove and in crevices becomes nigh on impossible to do so.

The AWM warns against the use of silicone polish as it makes the application of protective coatings in the future almost impossible to remove without lengthy and considerable effort.

Only one Conspicuous Gallantry Medal was issued to a RAAF member during the reign of Queen Elizabeth II - second to a Victoria Cross and much rarer - this was mounted with sticky tape and silicone adhesive! Only three were ever issued in the British Commonwealth - the other two were Royal Navy members. This medal has been discontinued and will therefore remain unique. Navy medals have different ribbons.

We are dealing here with not only family sentimental value but also serious monetary and historic value.

This group was remounted, stitched not glued, and a replica group was also supplied to the family.

MEDAL GROUPS - The rules dictate that up to five medals can be mounted side by side. Over this number the medals begin to overlap in slightly increasing increments up to 200mm wide, no matter how many are in the group

In large groups there may be only a few mm of the overlapped medal showing.

PHOTO C Large group and also a Vietnam group

In uniform you have to follow the rules, post service it is possible to stretch them out a bit but fifteen medals mounted side by side is almost half a metre and looks ridiculous - if you want to frame them showing the whole medal it will be better to mount them separately.

Although the reverse of the medal may look more interesting, the sovereign's head, federation star or coat of arms will face the front as this signifies who you represented or were defending.

The ribbon then is the real identifier of the medal and for this reason, when framing, we always include ribbon bars which show the entire ribbon.

These bars are four ribbons wide for males and three ribbons wide for females who normally have narrower shoulders.

Back of Service Ribbon Bar showing butterfly clips used to secure to clothing

Front of Service Ribbon Bar showing butterfly clips used to secure to clothing

Most people in the services today do not wear their original medals but wear replicas. So once you have your original medals treated, to look after them use replicas instead, especially if the grandchildren want to take them to school for ANZAC Day Show and Tell.

Making duplicates means that others also can honour the original recipient.

Duplicated replica war service medal groups in black cases with names engraved on brass plates

Are your medals and your family's medals presentable, ready and correct for ANZAC Day and Armistice Day - the day that signified the end of World War I?

There will be special Commemorations at the Australian War Memorial in Canberra on November 11th, 2018 as well as many other places.

Medals are in effect a shorthand presentation of the recipient's career and achievements.

Many medals have been lost, some have gone to other branches of the family and many have never been claimed - some of these are simply because of change of address or simply because the recipient thought "been there,done that and didn't enjoy it very much".

As time goes on. these very people often start to put their past into perspective and remember the good times along with the bad.

Many were permanently damaged by their experiences and/or didn't want to talk about it.

This is often a blank page in a family's history. Some research will help our understanding and why we should pay tribute to their memories.

The medals are a visual reminder, honouring their sacrifice and service.

In some cases medals have been issued over 50 years after the event. Some medals have been upgraded and for others the qualification for the award has been changed. For example most conscripts who went to Vietnam originally had two medals - they now normally have five.

The two main internet sites to look at are the Australian War Memorial and the National Archives of Australia.

For WWI on the NAA site go to the conflict involved and the service and then do a name search. The service number is more direct than given names especially if the name is fairly common.

OR go to "Discovering ANZACS" for Boer War and WWI - use the place of birth or residence at enlistment to help your search if you don't know the number.

The last or second last page of the 1st World War Service records will give you the medal entitlement. Any medal that has N.E. written on it means that the person was not entitled to it. Other awards, Mentions in Despatches, Silver war badges (if invalided out) and Memorial plaques (if died as a result of war) will be noted on this page.


Later records do not have service medal entitlements on them. If you are unsure of entitlements or unclaimed medals go to 'Honours and Awards', follow the prompts and find the appropriate forms.

To make a claim for unissued medals you should be the spouse or oldest surviving child or grandchild etc.

Lost medals that have been issued cannot be reclaimed unless you are the original recipient, although some exceptions have been made following natural disasters such as

the Victorian fires or the Queensland floods.

Service Medals Melbourne

Medal mounting from people who are passionate about service history

Information and stories from the medal-mounting desk of Neville Crawford


1914-15 Star For Australians this means that the person will have seen action prior to 31st December 1915 and will generally mean Gallipoli or en route (e.g.Egypt)'.

British War Medal
To all who enlisted whether they saw action or not.

Victory Medal Anyone who saw active service.

"Pip Squeak and Wilfred" - the trio of medals named above.

"Mutt and Jeff" - the two medals issued from 1st January, 1916

Both of these nicknames came from comic strips popular at the time when the medals were being issue in the early 1920s.

Silver War Badge
issued to those who were invalided out. Known as the "White Feather Badge" to stop people handing outwardly-fit-men a white feather for being cowards.

Memorial Plaque
Over 1.3 million issued to families of those killed.

SOME NOTES ON MEDALS WWII - In WWII, if you are not sure of the medals, go to 'Honours and Awards' and make an application.

Since the end of the 2nd World War there have been a number of changes to eligibility for various awards.

1939-45 Star Originally awarded for 6 months operational service from 3rd September 1939 till 2nd September 1945. RAAF ground crews in the UK were not originally entitled but this was changed in 2001. Some missed out because the war finished before their 6 months service was up. They are now entitled to claim it. Changed 1995.

Also now entitled to claim the 1939–45 Star are personnel who served for 6 months north of Katherine (during the Japanese raids in 1942 and 1943) as this area was later declared a war zone. Changed 1995. These people would also have a Defence Medal.

Bomber Command Clasp for the 1939-45 Star for Bomber Command flying out of the UK (introduced in 2013).

Arctic Star Introduced in 2013 for those who served in the North Sea convoys to Russia.

War Medal 1939-45 Originally for 28 days continuous service - difficult to miss out on - and gained the name of 'Every-bugger's Medal'. This has been changed (1995) to "not necessarily continuous" for those few who missed out.

Australian Service Medal 1939-45 Originally for 18 months full time or 3 years part time service. In 1995 this was changed to full time duty of 30 days or part time of 90 days.

SOME NOTES ON MEDALS POST WWII - Later Australian Issues covering the immediate post war and Korean etc conflicts:

Australian Active Service Medal 1945-75 Instituted 1995 - covers active service from Korea to Vietnam with appropriate clasp.

Australian Service Medal 1945-75 Instituted 1995 - covers non-combatant service in the same period with clasps. Troops who were in the Pacific theatre for 30 days after September 2, 1945 will qualify for this with a clasp PNG or SW PACIFIC – these are the two most common clasps.

NB the clasp THAI MALAY has been upgraded to that of the Active Service Medal.

If this medal has the clasp KOREA, the recipient may have served in the post-armistice period 1953-56 and will be eligible for the Australian General Service Medal instituted in 2010, 54 years after this service. Many of these people will obviously have passed away, so research to get it right is imperative.

FOREIGN AWARDS - The general rule is that you can't get two medals for the same thing so you shouldn't have a Netherlands War Commemorative Cross with a clasp for the Dutch East Indies if you also have a Pacific Star. But you could have a Greek War Medal 1941 for Crete as no British Commonwealth Medal covers this. Government approval is required if you are officially allowed to wear foreign awards.

ASSOCIATION MEDALS - such as the Tobruk Siege medal and the Infantry Frontline Service medals are association medals and must not be mounted with the official medals

Then there are the TIN MEDALS - minted often to just make someone some money or boost the ego. A lot of medals don't necessarily make one a hero.

HONOURS AND MEDALS FOR VALOUR etc. -These can be found on the Australian War Memorial website.


  • Some time ago a client brought us a group of 7 medals saying that they had had no luck in finding any records of their great grandfather signifying service in the Boer War and in the First World War.

Falsely claimed war service medals - Boer War and World War One medal group

A little sleuthing showed the probability that he had deserted a family in West Australia before moving to Victoria and changing his name.

His First World War army records show 'wife' written in inverted commas and that he had only received The British War Medal meaning that he had enlisted but did not see action. All the other medals had been renumbered and renamed.

The British War Medal - only legitimate medal in this war service medal group

The Boer War Medals were to “No. 326 Lieutenant Xxxxxxx Scottish Horse”. This is someone else's number although many Australians joined the Scottish Horse, he obviously didn't.

Then there was the 1902 Coronation Medal – the Australian contingent numbered only 6 and he wasn't on it – with proven provenance this alone would be very valuable. Heading up the group was a Distinguished Conduct Medal named to Lieutenant Xxxxxxx.

However if he had been a Lieutenant he would have been awarded a DSO (the DCM is for other ranks below that of commissioned officer). So obviously false.

Value? An untampered Boer War DCM - $20,000 plus. If the other medals were legitimate this group would be five, ten or more times that as a group.

Real value now?

Curiousity value!! I have left the person's name blank to protect the privacy of his family.

Distinguished Conduct Medal in falsely claimed Boer War and World War One Medal group

Remember it is an offence to wear medals to which you are not entitled - punishable by fine and imprisonment. If you do, there is a strong possibility you will be exposed and posted on the ANZMI (Australian and New Zealand Military Imposters) website.

  • This photo is also of a First World War group with a Meritorious Service Medal. However it is shown at the end of the group and has Elizabeth II and not George V. In this position it is a long service award but with a different ribbon.

In this particular case however the medal was awarded for active service and comes at the front of the group but with the ribbon as shown in the photo. Someone made a mistake in the past that should not have been made.


A copy of the recommendation for the medal and its approval is shown.

A reputable business will do these checks.

PROTOCOLS FOR WEARING MEDALS - When wearing medals there are certain protocols that must be observed. Your own medals are normally left breast but wearing a relative's medals they are worn right breast.

Commonwealth medals to the recipient are worn on the left but state and internal awards are normally worn on the right, but this can vary in different jurisdictions.

UNISSUED MEDALS - may take a little detective work and some determination!

This group may look a little odd to the knowledgeable but let us tell you why. The recipient was awarded a Military Medal in 1916 and a Meritorious Service Medal in 1918 but the latter was never issued, probably because of a spelling error. His name was Cahir but was misspelled in the records as Carr.

99 years later in 2017, the modern equivalent, a Distinguished Service Medal was finally issued to his son. His father had died in 1928.

This group which had just been completed by another medal mounter looked a little strange – the Military Medal and a British War Medal, both of which are silver, looked gold because of the protective honey coloured coating applied. Fortunately it was possible to rectify by stripping and recoating.

The Victory Medal however had been gold plated – impossible to take back to its original condition without also removing the original plating.


Another reason to deal with reputable and knowledgeable professionals.


As I was finishing writing this, another group landed on my counter 'ready for framing and fresh from the medal mounter' or so I was told. This time the medals were uncleaned and unlacquered.

The General Service Medal had clasps for the Malay Peninsula and Borneo which should mean that there would be a Pingat Jasa Malaysia Medal. Not there. And the Defence Force Service Medal should have had at least one and possibly two clasps,and the National Medal possibly one as the recipient had served approximately 25 years. None of this should have happened, so we will have to redo this before framing, leaving the client out of pocket for this earlier 'medal mounting'.


Service Medals Melbourne

Medal mounting from people who are passionate about service history

Information and stories from the medal-mounting desk of Neville Crawford

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