Polar Medal

Polar Medal

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Polar Medal

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The Polar Medal is a medal awarded by the Sovereign of the United Kingdom, which was originally instituted in 1857 as the Arctic Medal to reward earlier explorers attempting to discover the Northwest Passage.

  • The first awards were made to the men engaged in a search expedition to discover the fate of Sir John Franklin and his crew who were lost in 1847 while looking for the Northwest Passage.
  • A second Arctic Medal was sanctioned for the crews of three ships exploring in the Arctic in 1875–76.
  • In 1904 a third and current series, the Polar Medal, was instituted for members of Captain Scott's first expedition to Antarctica. Medals were also awarded to members of Ernest Shackleton's expedition.

Originally the medal came in both silver and bronze; the bronze medals were awarded to personnel of relief ships for Antarctic expeditions. No bronze medals were awarded for Arctic expeditions. Today the medal comes in silver only. The die for the medal was engraved by Leonard Charles Wyon.

Before 1968 the Polar Medal was awarded to all who participated in any Polar expedition endorsed by the government of any of the Commonwealth Realms. Today however the Polar Medal is only awarded to selected British individuals for extreme human endeavour against the appalling weather and conditions that exist in the Arctic and Antarctic. An increasing number are awarded to members of expeditions and scientific bases that are kept constantly manned in the Antarctic. The Regulations...
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