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Badge - World War I, Mothers & Widows, Edgar James McCarthy, circa 1919 Object Reg. No: ST 036589

Alternative Name(s): Mothers & Widows Ribbon

Mothers and Widows badge, World War I issue. Black badge with embroidered rising sun badge, wattle sprays and "For Australia" in yellow thread two silver type metal bars, top bar has pin, lower bar has brass star indicating the number of sons killed in action or died of wounds. Top bar numbered 33541. Issued to mother of Pte Edgar James Mccarthy, died of wounds 22.4.1917.

Edgar McCarthy was a 19-year-old labourer from Rosedale, Gippsland, Victoria, when he enlisted on 4 February 1916. As he was under 21 years of age, his father Henry gave his consent. Edgar was placed in the 8th Batallion, 17th Reinforcements (no. 5422) on 19 January and embarked for England on 4 April on the HMAT Euripides. He was shipped to France on 30 December 1916 and joined his unit on 4 February 1917 and his battalion on the 7th - probably in preparation for moving to the front. He was wounded in action on 16 April, including a fractured back and a severe head injury ('SW Head' may refer to a shell wound, although another document in his file refers to a gunshot wound). Edgar died at 8:40pm on 22 April at the 13th General Hospital, Boulogne, France. He had survived as little as ten weeks at the font.

Eight years later records in the National Archives indicate that his mother was 'still a patient at the Kew Hospital for the Insane'. Alice's incarceration was not related to the death of her son - she had been admitted there in 1899, probably as a result of post-natal depression. It is not known to whom thisand other items relating to Edgar was given, although a note in the Museum's supplementary file says that the donation of his material was 'handed to me (possibly the donor) from his mother, Alice McCarthy, about 1950'.

According to the Australian War Memorial, the badge was officially sanctioned in Military Order 64 of 1919. The Barrier Miner (NSW) announced on 4 June 1919 that badges were now being issued to the mothers and widows of those 'who have been killed in action or died of wounds or other causes while serving, or who after discharge died from causes directly attributable to wounds or sickness incurred while on service'. Appropriate wear was prescribed: 'When the badge is worn it should be attached to the dress, on the right breast'. A total of 30,000 badges were ordered (although over 60,000 were killed). Delivery was delayed due to power restrictions during 'the strike' (thousands of seamen were involved in industrial action during 1919), and the contractor struggling to produce the necessary quality for the metal bars.
Black ribbon machine-embroidered in gold with wattle sprigs, a Rising Sun badge and the words "For Australia". The badges were suspended from a white metal bar which bore laurel leaves. Stars were added to the bottom bar, each indicating the death of one man.
Acquisition Information:
Donation & Subsequent Transfer from Returned Servicemen's League of Australia Limited (RSL) Victorian Branch, 1981
Discipline: Technology
Dimensions: 6.50 cm (Width), 10.20 cm (Length)

More information

Tagged with: wars conflicts, death mourning, world war i 1914-1918, militaria australian, memorials
Themes this item is part of: Arms Collection, Public Life & Institutions Collection
Primary Classification: MILITARY HISTORY
Secondary Classification: Civilian Life
Tertiary Classification: presentations
Other Association (See Comments): Private Edgar McCarthy - 8th Battalion, A.I.F., Australia, 1919 or later

Issued to mother of Pte Edgar James McCarthy, 8th Battalion, A.I.F.
References: National Archives of Australia - Edgar James McCarthy, item barcode 1939171.

Australian War Memorial Encyclopaedia, 'The Mothers and Widows Badge', http://www.awm.gov.au/encyclopedia/badges/mothers_widows.asp, accessed 27 Mar 2013.

MOTHERS AND WIDOWS' BADGES. (1919, June 4). Barrier Miner (Broken Hill, NSW : 1888 - 1954), p. 1. Retrieved March 27, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article45485550.

WAR BADGES FOR WOMEN. (1919, September 19). The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 - 1956), p. 6. Retrieved March 27, 2013, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article4687136.

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