Images viewed during research for a monument to American efforts
during World War I inspired the design of new coins from the Royal Mint.
On July 29, the Royal Mint released the second pair of five-ounce
£10 coins in a series of five-ounce coins marking the 100 year
anniversary of World War I.
Available in Proof .999 fine gold or silver, the coins' reverse
design is by sculptor James Butler, while their obverse bears the new
definitive portrait of Queen Elizabeth II by Royal Mint engraver Jody Clark.
Butler’s haunting scene depicts a path of duckboards flanked by
war-ravaged trees, in what at first appears to be muddy ground, but
that on closer inspection reveals outlines of indistinct figures —
soldiers having laid down their lives, lost in the mud, with no hero’s grave.
The inspiration for the design derives from Butler’s years of
research into the WWI, for which he created a memorial that was
inaugurated in 2011. An American, the son of a soldier who earned a
Purple Heart during WWI, paid for the memorial.
Butler’s memorial sculpture pays tribute to the 167th (Alabama) Infantry Regiment and the United
States 42nd Infantry (Rainbow) Division of which it was part. The
Rainbow Division was formed of units from 26 states and the District
Placed at the Croix Rouge Farm at Fère-en-Tardenois in France, the
memorial statue depicts an American soldier carrying a
lifeless comrade, in memory of the troops engaged in combat at the site in July 1918, securing a
victory for the Allied forces.
In his research on the Battle of Croix Rouge Farm, photographs
provided the sculptor with vivid insight into scenes such as that
depicted on the new coin — images of stark landscapes and boggy
lands, often scattered with human remains — the aftermath of conflict.
On July 26, 1918, the 167th (Alabama) Infantry Regiment, along with
the 168th (Iowa), attacked German positions in the Battle of Croix
Rouge Farm. The Americans took heavy losses advancing across open
fields (in contrast with the trench warfare typical of WWI) toward the
farmhouse complex and in view of German machine gun nests in the
According to a report in the New York Times, “in the final
push, Maj. John W. Carroll, the First Battalion’s commander, shouted:
‘Save your fire, men! We’ll give ’em hell with the bayonet.’ One
soldier recalled ‘it was the only hand-to-hand fighting I saw during
the war,’ and Gen. Douglas MacArthur later spoke admiringly of the
Alabamians and Iowans, citing their gallantry.”
The Americans prevailed in the small but important battle, which
occurred some 45 miles east of Paris as part of the Second Battle of
The coins are accompanied by a booklet exploring the wartime events
of 1915 and revealing the designer’s inspiration.
Shane Bissett, the Royal Mint’s director of commemorative coin and
medals, said, in a press release: “James Butler’s atmospheric design
captures the reality of war — the devastation and the desolation
experienced by those who fought on the battlefields during the
terrible conflicts of 1914 [to] 1918.”
Butler said that work on the statue and coin was special.
“I am not a particularly religious man, but when I have researched
the subject over the years, I have been quite taken over and moved by
the powerful imagery that surrounds the war. It reveals the horrors
and the bravery of so many people often indistinguishable and sadly uncelebrated.”
Both coins weigh 156.295 grams. The silver £10 coin measures 65
millimeters in diameter, and the gold £10 coin measures 50 millimeters
The mintage limit for the silver coin is 500 pieces, and it retails
for £395 each.
The mintage limit for the gold coin is 50 pieces, and it retails for
To order, visit the Royal Mint website.
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