Dogger Bank Medal 1781

Doggersbank-medaille

From 1588 till 1795 The Netherlands were a republic: the Republic of the Seven United Provincies ("Republiek der Zeven Verenigde Provincies"). Fought free from Spanish suppression in 1588 by rebellion and finally overthrown and suppressed in 1795 by Napoleon Bonaparte this was the first ever republic to excist. Instead of a president the head of this republic was a "Stadhouder" (a direct translation should be City Holder). In all cases this was a descendant of William the Silent, Prince of Orange (1533-1584), who was the initiator of the rebellion against Spain.

In 1776 the Americans won their independence by revolution. Since this independence was won in a similar way by the Dutch in 1588 it found many sympathisers in the Republic of United Provincies. As could be expected this led to a declaration of war from England. Thus started the Fourth British-Dutch War, which should last from 1780 till 1784.
On August 5, 1781 rear-admiral J.A. Zoutman (1724-1794) with a flotilla of 17 men-at-war at his command battled with a British fleet at Dogger Bank. This British fleet consisted of 19 fully armed and well trained warships under the command of admiral Sir Hyde Parker. Although in the minority the Dutch flotilla managed to hold 'ground' and the British fleet was forced to withdraw.

For this victory City Holder William V (1751-1791) awarded rear-admiral Zoutman with the Ambassador's Medal. In addition to this all officers, midshipmen and non-commissioned officers present at the Battle of Dogger Bank received a commemorative medal.
This Dogger Bank Medal ("Doggersbank-medaille") was oval, 36 x 28 mm in size. The obverse has the winged figure of Victory shown at her right side. With her right hand she holds out a wreath of laurel. She is standing at the prow of a war galley. On this war galley the word "DOGGERS/BANK" can be read. Starting at her right foot and ending at the wreath of laurel the legend "PAX QVAERITVR BELLO" (peace is won by war) can be read near the left edge of the medal. Between the prow of the war galley and the wreath of laurel the date "V AVG/MDCC/LXXXI" can be read.
On the reverse the legend "EXI/MIAE/VIRTU/TIS/PRAEM/IVM" (reward for excellent bravery) in a wreath of laurel leaves. Between the wreath and the edge of the medal the legend "MVNIFICENTIA PRINCIPIS AVRIACI" (by the munificence of the Prince of Orange) can be read.

The medal was awarded in gold with a red-white-blue ribbon ninetheen times (one to Zoutman, one to his First Officer and seventheen times to his ship captains). The medal was awarded in silver with a red-white-blue ribbon the officers and in silver with an orange ribbon to the midshipmen and non-commissioned officer who where present at the battle. The sailors of lesser rank were awarded with a bonus to their wages.

Because this was the first national medal awarded to commemorate a battle it is seen by most historicans as the first official Dutch war medal.

It is also interesting to note that by Royal Decree no. 6 of August 5, 1861 (eighty years after the battle) four survivors of the battle were made Knight 3rd class in the Military William's Order. These were: Salomon baron van Dedel (born 1775), J. van Hoogenhouck Tulleken (born 1762), C.H. Ver Huell (1764-1845) and F. baron Fagel (born 1768).
The last survivor, sailor Abraham Losgert (1764-1856) was made Knight in the Order of the Oaken Crown by Royal Decree of September 9, 1853.


Sources:

"Orders and Decorations of The Netherlands" by H.G. Meijer, C.P. Mulder and B.W. Wagenaar;
"Onderscheidingen van de Koning-Groothertog, De Orde van de Eikenkroon 1841-1891" by C.P. Mulder and P.A. Christiaans;
"Nederlandse en buitenlandse Ridderorden en Onderscheidingen" by C. baron van Heerdt;
Encyclopedia.