The French Merchant Marine Medal for Service

In 1668, Jean-Baptiste Colbert (1619 – 1683), who served as Secretary of State for the Marine (Navy) under King Louis XIV, sponsored the development France’s Merchant Marine. From 1709 onwards, the sailors of the Merchant Marine were made eligible for the receipt of rewards such as medals.

The Merchant Marine Medals for Long and Honorable Service

Type 1
The Ministry of the Navy announced the establishment of a Medal of Honor to be awarded to French merchant sailors who complete three hundred months or more of service in the Official Journal of January 15, 1902 of the under the law of December 14, 1901. The 27 mm silver or silver plated medal was engraved by G. Marey.

Merchant Marine Medal of Honor Type 1 1901

First Diploma Type 1901 to 1925

Type 2
The Official Journal of July 31, 1925 sets forth the recommendations for modifying the existing version of the medal. As a result of this proposal, Pierre Turin (1891-1968) was chosen to engrave a modified design. The obverse of the silver 27 mm medal was changed to reflect the effigy of a sailor on a ship’s quarterdeck, with the curved inscription MARINE MARCHANDE to the left of the effigy. The diploma was also modified at the same time.

Merchant Marine Medal of Honor Type 2 1925 to 1929

Second Diploma Type 1925 to 1929

Type 3
The Decree of December 14, 1929 again modified the Law of December 14, 1901 with regard to the design and administration of the medal. The design of the 27 mm medal’s obverse was modified to reflect the effigy of a merchant sailor, dressed in a southwester. The engraver of this third (and current) design was Edmond-Emile Lindauer (1869 – 1942). The Diploma was also modified again at this time and is based on a painting by Marin Marie (1901 -1987), the official painter of the French Navy.

Type 3 1929 to Present

Third Diploma Type 1929 to Present

The medal, since its inception, has been suspended from a 30 mm wide horizontal tricolor ribbon in the national colors, with red close to the suspension brace and a blue anchor woven on the white central section.

The size of the diploma has varied since inception as follows: (1) 1901 to 1935 63 cm by 48 cm (2) 1936 to 1985 42 cm by 29.7 cm and (3) since 2001 21 cm by 29.7 cm.

Conditions for Award
The Medal of Honor for the Merchant Marine may be awarded to registered sailors of the commercial and fishing fleets, who complete 300 months or more of good and faithful service, including military service in the National Navy. Award of the medal is limited to 300 per year and these are awarded in March and September.

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