The First and Second Arctic Medals (1818-1876)

The First and Second Arctic Medals (1818-1876)


Rear Admiral John A.L.Myres CB

978-1-909075-73-3 / 633pp / hb

The White Ribbon (A Medallic Record of British Polar Exploration) published by Neville Poulsom in 1968 was the “bible” for many years for anyone interested in Polar exploration and in the collecting of medals relating to the Arctic and Antarctic, until superceded in 2000 by British Polar Exploration and Research – A Historical and Medallic Record with Biographies 1818 to 1999 (known for short as Poulsom & Myres) with which John Myres collaborated to provide a greatly expanded edition of the earlier book, and in which ‘mini-biographies’ of some of the men were included.

In this new volume, The First and Second Arctic Medals (1818 to 1876), John Myres has concentrated entirely on the 19th Century and, following the same general format as the earlier volumes, has further expanded it to explore the lives and careers of the almost 2500 men who had been awarded the First Arctic Medal (with some 1500 medals being issued), as well as the 155 men who were awarded the Second Arctic Medal.

This was because it had dawned on him that much more justice should have been done to all the intrepid souls who had explored, searched and sometimes died in the Arctic in the 19th Century. Whilst the 'mini-bios' of some of the more senior officers were reasonably detailed, many of the sailors and marines had often only been described in a single (usual short) sentence, and he felt that they deserved that more about their lives and careers should be recorded, not least because this would allow descendants, researchers and collectors, a fuller framework upon which to build if they wished to explore them further.

As well as tracing the background and career of each man, and sometimes his death, this new volume also includes, wherever possible, a record of all the other medals and awards that he received in addition to his Arctic Medal. As the middle of the 19th Century involved much naval activity and conflict, many of the Arctic Medallists acquired a number of other campaign medals, as well as Long Service and Good Conduct Medals, and this record will be useful to collectors and descendants who possess these and can now link them to the men 's service in the Arctic.

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John Myres joined the Royal Navy in 1954, specialising in hydrographic surveying in 1959. Between 1969 and 1974 he commanded successively HM Surveying ships Woodlark, Fox and Hecla, being promoted to Commander in 1973. There followed alternate appointments in the Hydrographic Office and two further periods in command of Hecla, being promoted to Captain in 1980. From 1982 to 1985 he was the Hydrographer of the Royal Australian Navy. Between 1985 and 1990, he was the Naval Director in the UK Hydrographic Office and then Captain of the Hydrographic Surveying Flotilla. He was promoted to Rear Admiral in 1990 and appointed Hydrographer of the Navy and the first Chief Executive of the Hydrographic Office Defence Support Agency.

From 1990 to 1994, when he retired, he was (ex officio) Chairman of the UK Polar Medal Assessment Committee and, from 1995 to 2011, he continued as Secretary of that committee. He has collected medals since 1979, specialising in naval and polar awards and was President of the Orders and Medals Research Society from 1997 to 2001.