Alternative Name(s): Mothers & Widows Ribbon

Mothers & Widows ribbon, World War I. Presented to the next of kin of Private J.E. Reilly, 51 Bn. A.I.F. In box.

James Edward Reilly was a 24-year-old unmarried labourer when he enlisted on 5 July 1915 in Echuca, Victoria. He was given service number 3923 (3234 crossed out on his enlistment form) and placed in the 51st Battalion (Infantry) (originally his records state 24 Infantry Battalion, then 28 Infantry Battalion, both crossed out). He embarked for overseas on 12 February 1916 in Fremantle, on the HMAT Miltiades, and was in Egypt for training by April 1916. He disembarked at Marseille, France, on 12 June 1916, and on 3 September was reported missing in action in France near Albert. He was later declared dead, and is commemorated at the Villers-Bretonneux Memorial, France. His next of kin were listed as both his parents. His mother's name was Mary Reilly.

According to the Australian War Memorial, the ribbon 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.

Physical Description

Black ribbon secured with silver bar top and bottom. The ribbon features a rising sun motif, with a crown at centre and inscribed ribbon across middle. Sprigs of wattle are featured above. The lower silver bar has a single silver star attached, indicating the death of one soldier in the family.

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