Sydney Emden medal : Able Seaman H T Bird, HMAS Sydney

Unit HMAS Sydney
Accession Number REL/10634
Collection type Heraldry
Object type Medallion
Physical description Silver
Maker W Kerr
Place made Australia: New South Wales, Sydney
Date made 1918
Conflict First World War, 1914-1918

Unofficial medal made from a silver Mexican dollar and surmounted by a King's crown and scroll. The obverse of the dollar shows an eagle surrounded by a wreath and the words 'REPUBLICA MEXICANA'. The scrolls on the fitting above read 'NOV 1914' and 'HMAS.SYDNEY.SMS.EMDEN'. The reverse of the coin shows a liberty cap surrounded by stylised sun rays. Treasury details are located around the rim. The reverse of the fitting is marked with the maker's name, 'W.KERR SYDNEY' and engraved with 'H.T. BIRD 2062 R.A.N.'.

History / Summary

Unofficial medal presented to Able Seaman Henry Thomas Bird, a British sailor who served with the Royal Australian Navy during the First World War aboard HMAS Sydney. 6429 silver Mexican dollars were recovered from the German cruiser SMS Emden after she was sunk by the Sydney off Cocos Island on 9 November 1914. In 1918 1000 coins were mounted by the Sydney jeweller W Kerr and presented by Captain John C.T. Glossop to the officers and men of the Sydney who were on board at the time of the engagement. Others were given to the staff on Cocos Island as well as the Admiralty, the Australian War Museum and other approved museums. The remainder were sold to the public. Of the remaining unmounted coins 653 were distributed by the Department of Navy, 343 were sold to the public and 4433 were melted down and the money used by the RAN Relief fund.