The new General Service Medal, known as GSM 08, was approved last year to recognise service on specified operations since January 2008. Its recipients have served on medal worthy operations facing dangerous and demanding circumstances that do not qualify for other medals.
Examples include the evacuation of UK personnel, including British consular staff, from Libya during 2011, capacity building activities in Yemen, and support to the French Operation SERVAL aimed at halting the progress of insurgents in Mali.
Defence Secretary Michael Fallon said:
We ask a great deal of our Armed Forces and part of our commitment to them is to recognise their service. These medals recognise a number of important operations, from North Africa to the Arabian Peninsula, and I am proud to see these servicemen and women recognised by the nation for the work they have done to keep Britain safe. Each medal is richly deserved.
Recipients at the ceremony in London included Liverpudlian Leading Seaman James Meacock. He was spotting potential threats from aboard HMS Cumberland when the Royal Navy was called upon to evacuate British and other nationals from Benghazi. He commented:
It’s great to get recognition and accept this medal on behalf of HMS Cumberland, who proved herself yet again in Libya.
The warship was the first and last Royal Navy warship into Benghazi and Britain’s biggest contributor to the evacuation in 2011.
Also receiving the new medal was Capt Amanda Wilcox-Jones from Winchester. Deployed to Libya in 2012 as part of a 2 person team, she designed, wrote and delivered an English language course for Libyan Armed Forces. She said:
“It was exciting to go on deployment, and while no one expects a medal it’s wonderful to be recognised.”
Sqn Ldr Matthew Jupp from Plymouth received the GSM for his work in Bamako, the capital of Mali, as part of a liason team supporting French forces and Malian authorities in 2013. Now based back in RAF Honington, he said he was “delighted” to receive the medal:
It was an honour to be presented with a medal by the Secretary of State. My role was a small part of a much larger team effort.
The new medal is struck in silver and features the Ian Rank-Broadley effigy of Her Majesty on the obverse, while the reverse comprises a central design feature of a standing figure of Britannia holding a trident with a lion, symbolising Britain, behind. The clasps are geographical in nature, representing service across regions rather than specific operations or countries. The whole is encircled by a wreath of oak leaves, as per the previous GSM medals.