Campaign and Gallantry Medals

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Campaign Medals

1914 Star medal

1914 Star

Established in April 1917.
Also known as 'Pip' or the 'Mons Star'.

This bronze medal award was authorized by King George V in April 1917 for those who had served in France or Belgium between 5th August 1914 to midnight on 22nd November 1914 inclusive. The award was open to officers and men of the British and Indian Expeditionary Forces, doctors and nurses as well as Royal Navy, Royal Marines, Royal Navy Reserve and Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve who served ashore with the Royal Naval Division in France or Belgium.

A narrow horizontal bronze clasp sewn onto the ribbon, bearing the dates '5th AUG. - 22nd NOV. 1914' shows that the recipient had actually served under fire of the enemy during that period. For every seven medals issued without a clasp there were approximately five issued with the clasp.

Rose clasp for 1914 Star Medal

Recipients who received the medal with the clasp were also entitled to attach a small silver heraldic rose to the ribbon when just the ribbon was being worn.

The reverse is plain with the recipient's service number, rank, name and unit impressed on it.

1915 Medal

1914–15 Star

Established in December 1918.
Also known as 'Pip'.

This bronze medal was authorized in 1918. It is very similar to the 1914 Star but it was issued to a much wider range of recipients. Broadly speaking it was awarded to all who served in any theatre of war against Germany between 5th August 1914 and 31st December 1915, except those eligible for the 1914 Star. Similarly, those who received the Africa General Service Medal or the Sudan 1910 Medal were not eligible for the award.

Like the 1914 Star, the 1914-15 Star was not awarded alone. The recipient had to have received the British War Medal and the Victory Medal. The reverse is plain with the recipient's service number, rank, name and unit impressed on it.

An estimated 2.4 million of these medals were issued.

British War Medal

The British War Medal 1914–18

Established on 26th July 1919.
Also known as 'Squeak'.

The silver or bronze medal was awarded to officers and men of the British and Imperial Forces who either entered a theatre of war or entered service overseas between 5th August 1914 and 11th November 1918 inclusive. This was later extended to services in Russia, Siberia and some other areas in 1919 and 1920.

Approximately 6.5 million British War Medals were issued. Approximately 6.4 million of these were the silver versions of this medal. Around 110,000 of a bronze version were issued mainly to Chinese, Maltese and Indian Labour Corps. The front (obv or obverse) of the medal depicts the head of George V.

The recipient's service number, rank, name and unit was impressed on the rim.

Victory Medal

The Allied Victory Medal

Also known as 'Wilfred'

It was decided that each of the allies should each issue their own bronze victory medal with a similar design, similar equivalent wording and identical ribbon.

The British medal was designed by W. McMillan. The front depicts a winged classical figure representing victory.

Approximately 5.7 million victory medals were issued. Interestingly, eligibility for this medal was more restrictive and not everyone who received the British War Medal ('Squeak') also received the Victory Medal ('Wilfred'). However, in general, all recipients of 'Wilfred' also received 'Squeak' and all recipients of 'Pip' also received both 'Squeak' and 'Wilfred'.

The recipient's service number, rank, name and unit was impressed on the rim.

Territorial Medal

The Territorial Force War Medal 1914–1919

Instituted on 26th April 1920.

Only members of the Territorial Force and Territorial Force Nursing Service were only eligible for this medal. They had to have been a member of the Territorial Force on or before 30th September 1914 and to have served in an operational theatre of war outside the United Kingdom between 5th August 1914 and 11th November 1918. An individual who was eligible to receive the 1914 Star or 1914/15 Star could not receive the Territorial War Medal.

The obverse (front) of the medal shows an effigy of King George V with the words GEORGIVS BRITT OMN:REX ET IND: IMP:

The reverse of the medal has the words TERRITORIAL WAR MEDAL around the rim, with a laurel wreath and the words inside the wreath FOR VOLUNTARY SERVICE OVERSEAS 1914-1919.

Approximately 34,000 Territorial Force War Medals were issued.

Silver War Badge

The Silver War Badge

Issued on 12th September 1916.

The badge was originally issued to officers and men who were discharged or retired from the military forces as a result of sickness or injury caused by their war service. After April 1918 the eligibility was amended to include civilians serving with the Royal Army Medical Corps, female nurses, staff and aid workers.

Around the rim of the badge was inscribed “For King and Empire; Services Rendered”. It became known for this reason also as the “Services Rendered Badge”. Each badge was also engraved with a unique number on the reverse, although this number is not related to the recipient's Service Number.

The recipient would also receive a certificate with the badge. The badge was made of Sterling silver and was intended to be worn on the right breast of a recipient's civilian clothing. It could not be worn on a military uniform.

There were about 1,150,000 Silver War Badges issued in total for First World War service.


Mercantile Medal

Mercantile Medal

Mercantile Marine War Medal

The medal was established in 1919.

The Board of Trade awarded this campaign medal, the Mercantile Marine War Medal, to people who had served in the Merchant Navy and who had made a voyage through a war zone or danger zone during the 1914-1918 war.

It was a circular bronze medal. It was 1.42 inches in diameter. On the obverse (front) there was an effigy of King George V facing to the left with the words GEORGIVS V BRITT: OMN: REX ET IND: IMP:.

The reverse of the medal has a laurel wreath around the rim with an image of a merchant ship on a stormy sea with an enemy submarine and an old sailing ship to the right of the merchant ship. The inscription on this side of the medal is FOR WAR SERVICE/MERCANTILE MARINE 1914-1918.

The ribbon (1.25 inches wide) is green on the left and red on the right with a thin white line in the centre between the two. The green and red colours of the ribbon represent the starboard and port running lights of a ship with the centre white colour being representative of the masthead steaming light.

133,135 Mercantile Marine War Medals were awarded.

Silver War Badge
On some army medal records the reason for a soldier's discharge from the armed services is quoted as "265/17 Para 2b" .
Army Order 265 of September 1917 pertains to the issue of the Silver War Badge.

Under the amended conditions the badge will, subject in every case to the approval of the Army Council, be issued only to the individuals specified below, who have served with the military forces subsequent to the 4th August, 1914:
(a) Those who, having served as officers and being still of military age, have retired, resigned or relinquished their commissions:
(i) After service overseas in the armed Forces of the Crown, on account of disablement or ill-health caused otherwise than by misconduct,
(ii) After service at Home, and have been medically examined and finally discharged from liability to further military service under sub-section (5) of Section 1 of the Military Service (Review of Exception) Act, 1917, as permanently and totally disabled, otherwise than from misconduct.
(b.) Those who, having served as soldiers and being still of military age, have been discharged under the conditions set forth at (i) and (ii) in (a).
(c.) Those who, having served as officers and being now over military age, have retired, resigned or relinquished their commissions.
(d) Those who, have served as soldiers and being now over military age, have been discharged otherwise than for misconduct.
(e) Civilians who have served with the Royal Army Medical Corps under a fixed agreement for a period of service, or who have been employed with the army overseas (provided such employment received official sanction), who have resigned their military employment on account of wounds or sickness, and who, if of military age, have received a final discharge under sub-section (5) of section 1 of the said Act.
(f) Nurses and members of Voluntary Aid Detachments who have been discharged on account of old age, wounds, or sickness, such as would render them permanently unfit for further service.

Gallantry Medals

Military Medal

Military Medal

The Military Medal (MM)

The Military Medal was established on the 25th March 1916 to be awarded for "acts of gallantry and devotion to duty performed by non-commissioned officers and men of our army in the field". Some retrospective awards were made. Women were included (by an amendment of the 21st July 1916) whether British subjects or not for "bravery and devotion under fire". The award of the Military Medal was announced officially in the London Gazette.

Military Cross

The Military Cross (MC)

Established on 28th December 1914.

The Military Cross was a decoration for gallantry during active operations in the presence of the enemy. Commissioned officers with the rank of Captain or below (or Warrant Officer) were eligible for the award. From June 1917 officers of the rank of captain but who had a temporary rank of major could receive the award.

From August 1916 an individual could receive one or more Bars to the Military Cross. Recipients of the medal are entitled to use the letters M.C. after their name.

The Military Cross (M.C.) is the British Army equivalent of the Distinguished Service Cross (D.S.C.) and Distinguished Flying Cross (D.F.C.).

DCM medal
DCM Medal

The Distinguished Conduct Medal (DCM)

Established in 1854, during the Crimean War.

The medal is an extremely high level award for bravery. It was a second level military decoration awarded to other ranks of the British Army.

It was equivalent of the Distinguished Service Order (DSO) awarded for bravery to commissioned officers.

Although considered to be the army's second ranking gallantry award, the DCM was almost always seen as a "near miss for the VC".

DSO Medal

The Distinguished Service Order (DSO)

Instituted on 6 September 1886 by Queen Victoria.

Awarded for meritorious or distinguished service by officers of the armed forces during wartime

It is typically awarded to officers ranked Major (or its equivalent) or higher, but the honour has sometimes been awarded to especially valorous junior officers. 8,981 DSOs were awarded during the First World War, each award being announced in the London Gazette.