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500 000 free campaign medals available to the public in commemoration of the 200th Anniversary of the Battle of Waterloo

Press Release   •   Dec 15, 2014 09:00 GMT

Waterloo 200, the Government-backed organisation overseeing the celebrations of the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Waterloo, is giving away 500,000 commemorative Campaign Medals as a gift to the public. The medals, which are bronze replicas of those presented to all of the British soldiers that served at Quatre Bras, Ligny and Waterloo in 1815, have been funded by the The London Mint Office and are available here. The medals are limited to one per household.

Of the 500,000 commemorative Campaign Medals available, the first 37,500 are individually numbered, representing the number of soldiers to whom the Campaign Medal was originally issued. Following the announcement of the free medals at the Waterloo 200 event at Apsley House last month 30,000 of these have already been applied for.

The Waterloo Campaign Medal was originally commissioned by Sir William Wellesley Pole, brother of The Duke of Wellington, shortly after the battle. The medal features on the obverse an effigy of the Prince Regent looking left, with inscription ‘GEORGE P. REGENT’ and on the reverse is a seated figure of Victory, with inscription ‘WATERLOO’, the date ‘JUNE 18. 1815’ and ‘WELLINGTON’. The bronze medal commissioned was changed to silver by the Prince Regent and was intended to be issued to every soldier present at one or more of the battles. However, not all who fought (or relatives of the deceased) actually received a medal.

The Waterloo Campaign Medal holds much historical significance as it was the first time in British history that a medal was issued by the British Government to all soldiers present in a battle, regardless of rank. Prior to this, medals presented to participants in battle maintained a sense of the army hierarchy in the metal used – gold for generals and senior officers, silver-gilt for field officers and general staff, silver for captains and subalterns, bronze for native commissioned and European non-commissioned officers, and tin for privates.

“Wellington’s suggestion that all soldiers that took part in the battle should receive the same medal in the same metal, regardless of rank, was revolutionary and a clear recognition of the equal contribution made by all those who fought bravely in the Waterloo Campaign and reflects how deeply moved Wellington was by the courage of all those involved in Waterloo.

“The battle was a milestone in European history, it ended over 20 years of conflict in Europe and beyond as well as heralding over 50 years of relative peace and stability and it is our aim, as the Waterloo 200 committee to raise awareness of this in the build up to the anniversary in June next year”, commented Sir Evelyn Webb-Carter, Chairman of Waterloo 200.

The free medals are part of a programme of activity that Waterloo 200 is organising in the build up to the anniversary, which includes; a digital collection of 200 historic items associated with the Waterloo period from collections across Europe, various events at key locations including Apsley House, home to the 1st Duke of Wellington and Walmer Castle and Gardens, his official residence as Lord Warden of the Cinque Ports and where he died in 1852. 

On the 18th June 2015 there will be a service of national homage at St Paul’s Cathedral. Waterloo 200 would like to trace anyone in the UK or overseas whose relatives fought in the battle. The descendants will have the opportunity to apply for tickets to attend the event which will be attended by a senior member of the Royal Family as well as representatives from every regiment in the British army. Those with descendants involved in the battle are encouraged to enter their details here.

“It is a great honour to have a family connection with the Battle of Waterloo and it is fantastic that awareness is being raised to engage with other descendants. We have hired a historian to take a group of 20 of us around the battlefields at Waterloo next year to mark the 200 years and would encourage others to do the same. The Major’s letter to his wife is deeply moving and I’m sure there are many other fascinating stories out there that can be shared to create a piece of history” adds Chris Heyland, a descendent who recently contacted Waterloo 200.

Chris’s great-great Grandfather, Major Arthur Heyland, led the 40th Regiment at Waterloo. He submitted a letter written by Major Heyland to his wife Mary née Kyffin on the eve of the Battle of Waterloo.

- ENDS –

NOTES TO EDITORS:

The London Mint Office is part of the Samlerhuset Group, one of Europe’s largest coin and medal companies, founded in 1994 and operating in 14 European countries. This European connection, and the fact that Group operates in most of the countries which participated in the Battle of Waterloo, is one of the main reason why Waterloo 200 chose The London Mint Office as their official partner for distributing the Waterloo Medal and the Waterloo 200 coin sets.

Media contact:

Susan Perolls at Loudmouth PR, T 020 7981 9858, E susanp@loudmouthpr.co.uk 

Journalists: For more information and access to visuals please visit: http://www.mynewsdesk.com/uk/london-mint-office

About Waterloo200: Waterloo 200 Ltd is an organisation approved and supported by Government to oversee the celebration of the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Waterloo.

In 2009 Waterloo 200 Ltd was granted charitable status. For more information visit: http://www.waterloo200.org/

About The London Mint Office:  The London Mint Office is a trusted and respected partner for a large number of British coin collectors. Gold, silver and other precious metals have fascinated mankind for many centuries, making coin collecting a popular hobby the world over. The London Mint Office is at the centre of British numismatics, bringing the fascinating world of coin collecting to both existing and new collectors. Together with our sister organisations across Europe and China, The London Mint Office provides a wide range of coins from ancient to modern, originating from virtually every country in the world.  Visit www.londonmintoffice.org for more information.

About Worcestershire Medal Service: Worcestershire Medal Service is one of the largest suppliers of State Honours in the UK.  Granted a Royal Warrant as Medallists to Her Majesty The Queen in 2008, they are best known for the Diamond Jubilee Medal issued in 2012 and its sister organisation Gladman & Norman who designed and produce the Elizabeth Cross. They currently supply UK insignia ranging from the GCB to the BEM as well as awards to countries in Asia, Middle East and the Caribbean. It is this production heritage that lead Waterloo 200 to choose Worcestershire Medal Service as their production partner. Visit www.worcmedals.com for more information.

The London Mint Office was established in 2006 and since that time has become the UK market leader in the provision of collector coins and medals. The London Mint Office is a member of the Direct Marketing Association in the UK and is an official distributor for many national mints, including the Royal Mint.

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