Rescue Association Medals
As Peterson mentions in his book, badges and medals awarded by this group are not official government-issued.
They are issued solely by the Sea Disaster Rescue Association, which is in operation even today.
This group's pre-WW2 name was prefaced by the word 'Teikoku [Imperial]' and the inclusion of that word on the
reverses indicates a pre-war vintage. See examples below.
Badges can also be dated by the appearance of this word. See some badges HERE.
Generally speaking, badges indicate membership in the group, while medals were given for merit. The medals had
three classes. The membership badges seem to have a few different classes, too, indicated (as on the medals) by
Here are two examples of the Merit Medals (3rd Class). Note that there
are three lines of text. To find out if the medal is pre- or post-war, look
at the second line. The pre-war medals have 'Imperial' on the second
line, but the post-war medals have two kanji that read 'Japan.'
Otherwise, the design is the same.
1st Class Merit Medal. Gilded entirely in gold.
2nd Class Merit Medal. Gold gilt suspension and surrounding life preserver.
3rd Class Merit Medal. All silver--no gold gilt.
A close-up of the obverse. The rim is in the
shape of a life preserver. Two men clinging to
the mast during a storm. Peterson notes that
there are minor variations in the srikes.
Pre-war Merit Medal cases.
Note the different kanji at the top of the row. This indicates the class.
The colors and shapes of the boxes vary.
2nd Class Merit Medal. Gold gilt on surrounding life preserver and on the suspension device.
Pre-war 3rd Class Merit Medal. All silver; no gold.
3rd Class Merit Medal. Note that this is a variant. The suspension device is a simple
ball and hook, not the more elaborate bar suspension that is more commonly found.
Pre-war medal and case. This case, too, is paulonia wood, not the pressed
cardboard normally found. Luckily, the maker is named, and it is one of the most
famous jewelers in Japan: Hattori.
Another pre-war case example. Greenish color with green velvet interior.
3rd Class Merit medal.
Above are the merit medals, but this is the Sea
Disaster Rescue Association regular member badge.
Post-war 3rd Class Merit Medal. All silver; no gold.