Mary Ann Simmons is a jeweller and silversmith, who now works in Islington, London. Having studied jewellery design and making at George Brown College, Toronto, she worked with a small gold casting company and a private jewellery firm before joining a team of designers at Burkhardt Jewellers, suppliers to retail outlets worldwide. Her tricolour gold bracelet was featured on the cover of Canadian Jeweller. She also designed jewellery for films and television, and ran her own business fulfilling private jewellery commissions. Leaving full-time employment to study at London’s Guildhall University, she gained a 1st class honours degree in 1997, and also won awards from the Jerwood Foundation and the Goldsmith’s Company. By this point concentrating on silversmithing, she won a place at the Royal College of Art, where she completed her master’s degree in 2000. Her millennium medal, Imminent Change (illustrated in The Medal, 36 (2000), p. 96), won the Royal Mint’s first prize in the 1999 RCA medal competition. About her BAMS medal, The Fourth Service 1939-1945, which commemorates the role of the merchant mavy in the Second World War, the artist writes: ‘My first encounter with information about the merchant navy was in listening to accounts of merchant navy sailors on a BBC Radio 4 programme. I was vaguely aware of the merchant navy, but, like many others, I knew very little about their status as a “service” and had never heard recounted any sailor’s experiences in war. Of course, merchant seamen have existed for hundreds of years and many generations have found themselves serving as “lifelines” during wartime. The stories recounted on the programme, however, were stark accounts of life on active duty and the treatment many received on their return home. A visit to the Imperial War Museum’s exhibition and library provided many and varied accounts of the toll of life, sacrifices made and hardships endured. ‘From the moment war broke out the merchant navy was transformed from a private business concern to part of Britain’s fighting forces. Merchant ships began supplying everything from food and munitions for the nation to transport for troops. With this role came the certainty that the merchant navy had become a military target. Training on their ships’ guns was provided, but the main duties were that of a merchant navy seaman rather than a military sailor. In addition, whilst a serviceman or woman could expect their pay to continue both while serving and when off active duty through injury, the merchant navy sailor\’s pay stopped the moment his ship went down. Some went back to Britain, after miraculously surviving the sea, to tax demands and bills and with no way to pay them. ‘This treatment contrasts with comments made in the House of Commons by the then serving member of Parliament for Epsom, Archibald Southby, after the Second World War: “The world will never be able to repay the debt it owes to the officers and men of the merchant navy.” Yet true recognition has been slow in coming. ‘According to the Imperial War Museum, “Some 185,000 seamen including 40,000 Indian, Chinese and other nationalities, served during the war. 30,248 lost their lives, proportionally a higher death rate from enemy action than in any of the armed services.” Despite these colossal losses, the merchant navy was granted permission to participate in the Remembrance Day ceremony at the Cenotaph only as late as 2000, and the sad truth is that many merchant navy seamen are now dying without the recognition they deserve. Like the armed forces, they faced terrible dangers, some freezing in the arctic seas and dying of hunger, thirst and exposure after being cast adrift, and others injured in the line of duty. One account tells of nine men drifting for more than forty days, with in the end only two surviving. One of these two was eventually killed in action aboard another merchant navy vessel – a story by no means uncommon. ‘The merchant navy is referred to as “The Fourth Service”, and it is this that I have chosen for the title of my medal. The reverse depicts a map. The vertical and horizontal lines criss-crossing the reverse represent longitude and latitude lines. On the right side is the outline of land. Other lines drift lazily up and down the centre. To the left appear coordinates and an encircled X. On 3 September 1939, ten hours after the outbreak of the Second World War the passenger liner Athenia, bound for Montreal, was torpedoed by the U-boat U-30. A single torpedo hit the liner as it sailed 220 miles north-west of Ireland. Of the 312 crew and 1,102 passengers, ninety-three perished leaving the survivors to await rescue in the seas. It is this event that the encircled X marks. The upper left side of the medal shows a series of notches, which sailors used to count off the number of days they drifted at sea. On display at the Imperial War Museum is a lifeboat actually used by the nine merchant sailors previously mentioned with the notches clearly marked on the gunwale. ‘I used the Athenia as a starting point because it marks the transformation of the passenger liner from pleasure cruiser to a legitimate military target. It also marks the dramatic change in circumstances for the merchant seaman. I modelled the medal\’s reverse around a map because, looking at the lines and numeric information, I thought of activity and action. The eye follows lines here and there, stopping at numeric information, and puzzling over strange, unfamiliar symbols. Turning the medal, one reads THE FOURTH SERVICE 1939-1945 carved around the circumference. The four compass points are carved between the words, symbolising the length and breadth of merchant navy involvement, both in terms of where the sailors travelled and where they came from. The obverse is the opposite. There is no information, numeric or otherwise. In contrast, simple concentric waves undulate over the surface. The pattern represents water and the quiet after activity. And, like a drop into water, the action has stopped, leaving radiating ripples. It is here one lingers to contemplate the purpose of the medal: to commemorate merchant navy men who served in the Second World War. As Captain A. Agar, V.C., R.N., wrote in Footprints in the sea (1959), ‘They had nothing yet they never hesitated and we take our hats off to them.’ More information is available in G.H. and R. Bennett’s Survivors: British merchant seamen in the Second World War, published by the Hambledon Press in 1999.