Guidance

Medals: campaigns, descriptions and eligibility

Medals awarded to service personnel and civilians in recent times with an explanation of who can receive them.

Overview

Medals are only issued by the Ministry of Defence (MOD) Medal Office and can be claimed retrospectively and by next of kin. They are listed alphabetically and include currently available medals for the Afghanistan and Iraq conflicts through to medals associated with the Crimean War.

1939 to 1945 Star

World War 2 Star
For all overseas operational areas in World War 2

Sometimes mistakenly referred to as the ‘Victory medal’

Ribbon

Equal stripes of dark blue to represent the service of the Royal and Merchant Navies, red, to represent that of the Armies and light blue to represent that of Air Forces. Worn with the dark blue stripe furthest from the left shoulder.

Criteria

The 1939 to 1945 Star was awarded for any period of operational service overseas between 3 September 1939 and 8 May 1945 (2 September 1945 in the Far East).

The criteria is 180 days’ service between these dates, although some special criteria apply when, at certain specified times, just 1 days’ service is required.

Naval personnel qualify after 180 days afloat in areas of operations as laid out in the regulations between certain specified dates.

RAF air crew will qualify with 60 days service in an operational unit including at least one operational sortie.

Air crew of fighter aircraft engaged in the Battle of Britain between 10 July and 31 October 1940 were awarded the clasp ‘Battle of Britain’ to be worn on the ribbon of the 1939 to 1945 Star.

Accumulated Campaign Service Medal

Medal

The ACSM is silver and circular in shape. The obverse of the medal shows the crowned effigy of Queen Elizabeth II, while the reverse (shown here) bears the words ‘For Accumulated Campaign Service’ set within a four part ribbon surrounded by a branch of oak leaves with laurel and olive leaves woven through the motto ribbon.

Clasp

Bears the design of laurel leaves. When the ribbon alone is worn, a silver rosette denotes award of the clasp.

Ribbon

Purple flanked by green edges with a central narrow stripe of gold to denote excellence.

Criteria

The ACSM is awarded for 1,080 days aggregated service in those theatres for which the General Service Medal (GSM) (eg. Northern Ireland, Air Ops Iraq), an Operational Service Medal (OSM) (eg. Sierra Leone or Afghanistan) or the Iraq Medal has been issued. An additional 1,080 days is required for the award of the clasp to the ACSM. More than 1 clasp may be earned.

Separate criteria apply to part time members of the Ulster Defence Regiment (UDR) and Royal Irish (Home Service) Regiment.

Full details are laid out in DCI Gen 65/94 and, for the RAF, AP3392 Vol 4 Leaflet 2007 Annex B.

Accumulated Campaign Service Medal 2011

Accumulated Campaign Service Medal
For 1080 days aggregated service

Medal

Silver and circular in shape. The obverse of the medal shows the crowned effigy of Queen Elizabeth II, while the reverse (shown here) bears the words ‘For Accumulated Campaign Service’ set within a four part ribbon surrounded by a branch of oak leaves with laurel and olive leaves woven through the motto ribbon.

Clasp

Bears the design of laurel leaves. When the ribbon alone is worn, a silver rosette denotes award of the clasp.

Ribbon

Central stripe of purple with 2 vertical stripes of gold flanked on either side by a stripe of green.

Qualifying criteria

To be awarded the ACSM 2011 an individual must hold a qualifying operational medal such as the GSM (eg. Northern Ireland, Air Ops Iraq), an OSM (eg. Sierra Leone or Afghanistan), the Iraq Medal or other specifically designated multinational campaign medals, have completed more than 24 months (720 days) campaign service and be serving on or after 1 Jan 08. Bars are to be awarded for each additional period of 720 days approved operational service. A month is defined as 30 days and part months may be accumulated.

Full details are laid out in ACSM 2011 DIN (2011DIN09-008), which replaces ACSM DCI Gen 65/94.

Afghanistan Operational Service Medal (formerly the OSM for Op Veritas)

Medal

Silver and circular in shape. The obverse of the medal shows the crowned effigy of Queen Elizabeth. The reverse bears the Union Flag, surrounded by the inscription ‘For Operational Service’ and the 4 major points of the compass, with 4 Coronets: Royal (top left), Naval (top right), Mural Army (bottom left), and Astral Royal Air Force (bottom right).

Clasp

‘Afghanistan’. Awarded with the medal for service specifically in Afghanistan. When the ribbon alone is worn, a silver rosette denotes award of the clasp.

Ribbon

A broad central red stripe, flanked each side by a stripe of royal blue and one of light blue, to represent the 3 services, with an outer stripe of light brown to reflect the landscape of Afghanistan.

Criteria

Complex criteria govern the award of this medal, with varying lengths of service required depending on the operation and location.

To qualify for award of the Medal with clasp, personnel must have served in Afghanistan for either 5, 21 or 30 days continuous service between various dates depending on the operation, from 11 September 2001 to 1 August 2002 for Ops Jacana and Bandog, or to a date to be decided for Ops Veritas, Fingal and Landman.

Service of varying lengths depending on the operation on Ops Landman, Veritas, Oracle, Ramson or Damien in other Middle East countries during certain specific dates will qualify for the OSM for Afghanistan without clasp.

Full details are laid out in DCI JS 126/03 and were amended in 2005DIN 01-008.

About the OSM

The new OSM was introduced on 1 January 2000 and at the same time the GSM was discontinued, with the exception of the award of the GSM for Northern Ireland.

Since its introduction, 3 OSMs have been issued: for service in Sierra Leone, Afghanistan and the Democratic Republic of Congo. Although each OSM will look the same, separate ribbons will denote each separate award.

A clasp may be awarded with the OSM to signify service in a more dangerous area or period of conflict.

Africa Star

Africa Star
World War 2 medal for battles in Africa

Ribbon

Pale buff to symbolise the desert, overlaid with a central red stripe and one narrow stripe each of dark and light blue to represent the 3 services. Worn with the dark blue stripe furthest from the left shoulder.

Criteria

Star awarded for 1 or more days’ service in North Africa, Malta or Egypt between the above dates.

The qualifying areas for the Africa Star also include the earlier areas of conflict against the Italians in East Africa; those serving in Abyssinia, Sudan, Eritrea, Kenya or Somaliland between certain other specified dates will also qualify.

Naval personnel anywhere at sea in the Mediterranean or in harbour in North Africa, Malta or Egypt between the above dates will qualify. Those serving in direct support of the Eritrean and Abyssinian campaigns between certain other specified dates will also qualify.

RAF air crew landing in or flying over an area of an Army operational command or flying over enemy occupied territory in North Africa will also qualify.

Service with either the 1st or 8th Army in North Africa during certain specified dates will qualify for award of the ‘1st Army’ or ‘8th Army’ clasp to be worn on the ribbon of the Africa Star.

Provided neither the 1st or 8th Army clasps have been qualified for, staff of the 18 Army Group Headquarters who served between certain specified dates under a specified General will qualify for award of the clasp ‘North Africa 1942-43’.

Campaign History

In North Africa, British forces fought against the Germans and Italians between 10 June 1940 and 12 May 1943.

Italy entered the war in July 1940 when their forces invaded British colonies in East Africa. When the British fought back Germany sent troops to help the Italians. The British were then weakened after sending forces to aid Greece and German forces advanced, taking control of large areas of Egypt, Libya and Tunisia.

The desert conflict continued with the balance of power shifting between the 2 sides until the British eventually secured victory on 12 May 1943 when the remaining German forces surrendered at Tunis.

Some historians consider the British victory over the German forces here to have been the turning point in the war which led to victory.

Air Crew Europe Star

Aircrew Europe Star
For aircrew operations over Europe in World War 2

Ribbon

A wide central stripe of light blue, flanked at the edges by narrow stripes of yellow and black to symbolise the continuous service of the Air Force by night and day.

Criteria

The Air Crew Europe Star was earned almost exclusively by RAF personnel and can only be awarded after the 1939 to 1945 Star has been qualified for.

Aircrew Europe Star was awarded for 60 additional days’ service in an RAF Unit engaged in operational flying over Europe from bases in the UK with at least one operational sortie. After 5 Jun 44, operational flying over Europe qualified aircrew for the France and Germany Star.

Campaign History

The strategic bombing campaign against German industrial cities, military installations, and a wide variety of other targets continued throughout the War and made a decisive contribution to Allied victory.

The RAF endured significant losses of both men and aircraft but by the end of the War the campaign had severely curtailed German industrial production and virtually immobilised her military power.

Air Force Cross

Air Force Cross
For gallantry in the air for non opp actions

All ranks of the RN, RM, Army and RAF in recognition of exemplary gallantry in the air on non active operations.

Medal

A cross, in silver, the obverse (shown here) made up of a thunderbolt surmounted by another cross of aeroplane propellers, the ends of which are inscribed with the letters of the Royal Cypher, the base bar terminated with a bomb and the top bar by the Imperial Crown, with the arms conjoined by wings. A central roundel depicts Hermes mounted on a hawk in flight bestowing a wreath. The reverse bears the image of the Royal Cypher above the date ‘1918’.

Clasp

A silver bar ornamented by an eagle may be issued to AFC holders performing a further act of such gallantry which would have merited award of the AFC.

Ribbon

Alternate narrow diagonal stripes of white and crimson.

Criteria

All ranks of the RN, RM, Army, and RAF in recognition of exemplary gallantry in the air on non active operations.

History

Instituted in 1918, the Air Force Cross (AFC) was issued for acts of gallantry while flying on non active operations to warrant officers and officers of the Royal Air Force (RAF). It was later made available to equivalent ranks in the Royal Navy (RN) and Army for acts of gallantry in the air.

The equivalent award for the other ranks for acts of gallantry in the air on non active operations was the Air Force Medal (AFM), instituted at the same time as the AFC and which was also later made available to other ranks of the RN and Army.

Following the 1993 review, the AFM was discontinued and the AFC became available to all ranks of all services for exemplary gallantry in the air not in presence of the enemy. It is at the same level as the Queen’s Gallantry Medal, which is awarded for the same degree of gallantry on land or at sea.

Arctic Star

Arctic Star medal
Arctic Star medal

Criteria

The Arctic Star is granted for operational service of any length north of the Arctic Circle (66 degrees, 32’N) from the 3rd September, 1939, to the 8th May, 1945, inclusive. The Arctic Star is intended to commemorate the Arctic Convoys and is designed primarily for the ships of the convoys to North Russia and their Escorts.

Eligibility

Eligibility is defined as follows:

  • Royal Navy and Merchant Navy: naval and Merchant Navy service anywhere at sea north of the Arctic Circle to include, but not limited exclusively to, those ships participating in, and in support of, Convoys to North Russia. Fleet Air Arm Personnel, not qualified by sea service may qualify under the conditions applying to the Royal Air Force.

  • Royal Air Force: aircrew of the Royal Air Force will be eligible if they landed north of the Arctic Circle or served in the air over this area. Non aircrew on operational service in the area, for example ground crew or those sailing with CAM ships (Catapult Aircraft Merchant Ships), are also eligible.

  • British Army: army personnel serving in His Majesty’s ships or in defensively equipped merchant ships qualify under the rules applying to the Royal Navy or Merchant Navy. In addition, personnel taking part in land operations north of the Arctic Circle will also be eligible.

  • Civilians serving with the forces: members of the few approved categories of civilians who qualify for Campaign Stars will be eligible if, in support of military operations, they meet any of the above qualifying criteria.

  • Foreign nationals commissioned or enlisted into British or, the then, Dominion Forces (e.g. Royal Canadian Navy, Royal Australian Navy) are eligible provided the individuals did not receive a similar award from their own Government.

  • General: eligibility to the Arctic Star has no effect upon eligibility for World War 2 recognition previously awarded and does not suggest automatic eligibility for any further awards.

Atlantic Star

Atlantic Star
Home waters and the Atlantic

Ribbon

Shaded and watered stripes of blue, white and green to represent the Atlantic. Worn with the blue edge furthest from the left shoulder.

Criteria

Awarded only after the 1939 to 1945 Star has been qualified for, the Atlantic Star is for 180 days’ additional service as ships crew (RN or Army) in home waters or the Atlantic.

Certain special conditions apply governing award of the Star for those Naval personnel entering service less than 6 months before the end of the qualifying period, provided it was the last operational theatre in which they served.

RAF air crew will qualify after award of the 1939 to 1945 Star for an additional 60 days service in an operational unit having taken part in operations against the enemy at sea.

Campaign History

The Battle of the Atlantic took place between 3 September 1939 and 8 May 1945 as German U boats attacked the convoys transporting valuable supplies from America and the colonies to Britain.

Battleships of the RN and aircraft of the RAF escorted the convoys, hunted the U boats and despite some notable successes by the U boats, the Allies won a comprehensive victory in the Atlantic.

Bomber Command Clasp to the 1939-45 Star

Bomber Command Clasp to the 1939 to 1945 Star
Bomber Command Clasp

Criteria

The Bomber Command Clasp is granted to the aircrew of Bomber Command who served for at least 60 days, or completed a tour of operations, on a Bomber Command operational unit and flew at least one operational sortie on a Bomber Command operational unit from the 3 September 1939 to the 8 May 1945 inclusive. This applies to servicemen after they have met the minimum qualification for the 1939-45 Star, which in many cases, though not exclusively, is 60 days.

To be clear, servicemen must have already qualified for the 1939-45 Star before their time can count toward the required 60 day qualification period for the Bomber Command Clasp.

Eligibility

Eligibility is extended to those members of Bomber Command aircrew who did not meet the qualifying criteria due to service being brought to an end by death, wounds or other disability due to service, service marked by a gallantry award or taken as a prisoner of war.

Foreign nationals commissioned or enlisted into British or, the then, Dominion Air Forces (e.g. Royal Canadian Air Force or Royal Australian Air Force) are eligible provided the individuals did not receive a similar award from their own government.

Eligibility to the Bomber Command Clasp has no effect upon eligibility for World War 2 recognition previously awarded and does not suggest automatic eligibility for any further awards.

Visit the Veterans-UK website for the application form

Burma Star

Burma Star

Ribbon

Dark blue overlaid with a central red stripe to represent the Commonwealth Forces and 2 narrow stripes of orange to symbolise the sun.

Criteria

Star awarded for 1 or more days’ service in Burma, 1941 to 1945. Those serving in Bengal and Assam (in India), China, Hong Kong, Malaya or Sumatra between other specified dates will also qualify.

Naval personnel must qualify first for the 1939 to 1945 Star before the Burma Star can be awarded. It is then awarded for service at sea, restricted to the Bay of Bengal within certain specified boundaries.

Certain special conditions apply governing award of the Star for those Naval personnel entering service less than 6 months before the end of the qualifying period.

RAF air crew engaged in operations against the enemy will also qualify provided that at least one operational sortie has been completed.

Campaign History

The campaign in Burma took place between 11 December 1941 and 2 September 1945, during which time the Japanese invaded Burma, driving British forces to the Indian border. As the Japanese held superiority in the Pacific it wasn’t until early in 1944 that the Allies were in a position to strike back and regain a foothold in Burma with the aim of finally defeating the Japanese in the Pacific and Far East.

Total surrender of the Japanese came on 2 September 1945 following the dropping of the atom bombs by the Allies on 2 Japanese cities.

PoWs were forced to labour on construction projects such as railway building (as depicted in the film ‘The Bridge on the River Kwai’) and were frequently tortured and starved. Around 13,000 British soldiers and 2,000 civilians died in Japanese wartime camps.

Cadet Forces Medal

Cadet Force medal
Recognition for long service

Medal

Cupronickel and circular in shape. The obverse of the medal shows the crowned effigy of Queen Elizabeth II, while the reverse bears the inscription ‘The Cadet Forces Medal’ and a representation of a torch.

Clasp

Bears the image of the Queen’s Crown. When the ribbon alone is worn a silver rosette denotes award of the clasp.

Ribbon

Green with yellow edges with narrow stripes of dark blue, red and light blue superimposed.

Qualifying criteria

The CFM and clasps are awarded to officers and uniformed adult instructors in recognition of long service of proved capacity in the Cadet Forces. 12 years reckonable service is required for award of the medal. 6 years further service is required for award of each subsequent clasp. Prior to 1991, 8 years service was required for the clasp.

Service after the age of 18 as a cadet will count up to a maximum of 4 years.

Service in the Reserve Forces, Regular Forces, OTC and University Air Squadrons which has not been used as qualifying service towards any other medal (eg LS and GCM or VRSM) may be used towards CFM up to a maximum of 3 years.

At the discretion of service boards the following are not counted as breaks in continuity of service for the Medal: * any break which does not exceed 6 months * breaks of up to 3 years by reason of change in place of residence or change in civilian employment. This should be verified when an application is made

For award of the clasp service does not necessarily have to be continuous. The award of the CFM is governed generally by Royal Warrant dated 19 November 2001.

Conduct and Reserves medals

Long Service and Good Conduct, Meritorious Service, Accumulated Campaign Service, Reserve and Cadet medals

The services have recognised long service since the Army instituted its Long Service (LS) and Good Conduct Medal (GCM) in 1830, with the RN instituting theirs the following year.

Both were initially issued for 21 years service with exemplary conduct. Over the years the design of the medals and the qualifying criteria have altered, with 15 years now being the length of time required for consideration. Other medals have also been introduced over time to recognise varying aspects of long, efficient and accumulated service.

These medals, recognising particularly meritorious service, accumulated service on various campaigns, as well as long and efficient service in the Reserve Forces and the Cadet Forces are all still awarded today in one form or another.

Conspicuous Gallantry Cross

Conspicuous Gallantry Cross
Recognition for acts of conspicuous gallantry during active operations against the enemy

Medal

A cross pattée in silver mounted on a wreath of laurel leaves. The obverse of the medal bears in the centre a circular medallion depicting St. Edward’s crown. The reverse is plain in design and bears the rank, name and unit of the recipient. The date of the award is also engraved.

Clasp

A silver bar may be issued to CGC holders performing a further act of such gallantry which would have merited award of the CGC, though none have been awarded to date.

Ribbon

White with narrow stripes of dark blue at each edge and a central stripe of crimson.

Criteria

All ranks of the RN, RM, Army, and RAF in recognition of acts of conspicuous gallantry during active operations against the enemy.

History

Instituted in 1993 as part of the review of gallantry awards, the Conspicuous Gallantry Cross replaced 3 previous awards: the Distinguished Service Order for gallantry (issued to officers), the Distinguished Conduct Medal (Army other ranks) and the Conspicuous Gallantry Medal (RN other ranks).

The CGC is at the level below the Victoria Cross.

Defence Medal: 1939 to 1945

Medal

The obverse of the medal shows the uncrowned head of King George VI. The reverse bears the Royal Crown resting on an oak tree, flanked by two lions above the words ‘The Defence Medal’, with the date 1939 top left and 1945 top right.

Ribbon

Flame coloured in the centre flanked by stripes of green to symbolise enemy attacks on Britain’s green and pleasant land, with narrow black stripes to represent the black out.

Criteria

The Defence Medal was awarded for non operational service. This type of service in the UK included those service personnel working in headquarters, on training bases and airfields and members of the Home Guard. Home Guard service counts between the dates of 14 May 1940 and 31 December 1944. The Defence Medal was also awarded for non operational service overseas, for example in India or South Africa.

The table below shows the qualifying time required depending on the area served.

Area Time required
UK 1080 days
Overseas non-operational 360 days
Overseas non-operational with close threat or air attack 180 days

Distinguished Flying Cross

Awarded to all ranks of the RN, RM, Army and RAF in recognition of exemplary gallantry during active operations against the enemy in the air.

Medal

A cross flory, in silver, the horizontal and base bars terminating in bombs, the upper bar in a rose. This cross is surmounted by another, composed of aeroplane propellers, charged in the centre with a roundel within a laurel leaf, from which 2 wings stretch across the horizontal bars. At the centre of the roundel is the RAF monogram surmounted by the Imperial Crown. The reverse of the cross has at its centre an encircled Royal Cypher above the year ‘1918’.

Clasp

A silver bar ornamented by an eagle may be issued to DFC holders performing a further act of such valour which would have merited award of the DFC.

Ribbon

Alternate narrow diagonal stripes of white and deep purple.

Criteria

All ranks of the RN, RM, Army, and RAF in recognition of exemplary gallantry during active operations against the enemy in the air.

History

Instituted in 1918, the Distinguished Flying Cross was issued for acts of valour while flying in operations against the enemy to warrant officers and officers of the RAF. It was later made available to equivalent ranks in the RN and Army for acts of valour in the air.

The equivalent award for the other ranks for acts of valour in the air on operations against the enemy was the Distinguished Flying Medal (DFM), instituted at the same time as the DFC and which was also later made available to other ranks of the RN and Army.

Following the 1993 review, the DFM was discontinued and the DFC became available to all ranks of all services for exemplary gallantry in the air in presence of the enemy. It is at a level below the Conspicuous Gallantry Cross and is at the equivalent level to the Distinguished Service Cross (for exemplary gallantry at sea) and the Military Cross (for exemplary gallantry on land).

Distinguished Service Cross

Awarded to all ranks of the RN, RM, Army and RAF for exemplary gallantry against the enemy at sea.

Medal

A silver cross with rounded ends. The obverse bears in the centre the Royal Cypher surmounted by the Imperial Crown. The reverse is plain in design, though from 1940 onwards the year of the award was engraved on the lower limb of the cross.

Clasp

A silver bar, with rounded ends, ornamented by the Crown may be issued to DSC holders performing a further act of such gallantry which would have merited award of the DSC.

Ribbon

A central stripe of white flanked by equally sized stripes of dark blue.

Criteria

All ranks of the RN, RM, Army, and RAF in recognition of exemplary gallantry during active operations against the enemy at sea.

History

Instituted in 1901, this award was originally known as the Conspicuous Service Cross and was issued for gallantry in presence of the enemy to warrant and subordinate officers of the RN who were ineligible (on account of their rank) for the Distinguished Service Order. Renamed the Distinguished Service Cross in 1914, it also became available to Naval junior officers. In 1940, it also became available to Army and RAF officers serving aboard naval vessels.

The equivalent award for the other ranks for gallantry at sea in presence of the enemy was the Distinguished Service Medal (DSM) which had been instituted in 1914 and, similarly to the DSC, later became available to Army and RAF other ranks serving at sea.

Following the 1993 review, the DSM was discontinued and the DSC became available to all ranks of all services for exemplary gallantry at sea in presence of the enemy. It is at a level below the Conspicuous Gallantry Cross and is at the equivalent level to the Military Cross (for exemplary gallantry on land) and the Distinguished Flying Cross (for exemplary gallantry in the air).

Distinguished Service Order

Distinguished Service Order
Awarded for highly successful command and leadership during active operations

Medal

A gold cross, with curved edges, overlaid in white enamel. The obverse of the medal has at the centre of the cross a raised laurel wreath, enamelled green, surrounding the Imperial Crown in gold, on a red enamelled background. The reverse has a similar raised centre with the laurel wreath surrounding the Royal Cypher ‘VRI’. The suspender is decorated with laurel leaves, and a bar of the same design is positioned at the top of the ribbon.

Clasp

A gold bar ornamented by the Crown may be issued to DSO holders performing a further act of such leadership which would have merited award of the DSO.

Ribbon

Crimson flanked by narrow dark blue stripes at the edges.

History

The Distinguished Service Order was instituted originally to reward junior officers in the Army for distinguished service or acts of gallantry against the enemy. While the Order of the Bath had been available for senior officers and the Distinguished Conduct Medal for the other ranks, no award below the level of the Victoria Cross (VC) had existed for junior officers. The DSO was also made available to junior officers of the other services.

After the 1993 review, the DSO ceased to be awarded for gallantry replaced by the new all service, all ranks Conspicuous Gallantry Cross at the level below the VC. Although theoretically available to all ranks, the DSO, now awarded for distinguished leadership during active operations against the enemy, is likely to be awarded only to the more senior officer ranks.

The Elizabeth Cross: Died on Operations Recognition Award

This award was created to provide national recognition for the families of armed forces personnel who have died on operations or as a result of an act of terrorism.

Background

The Elizabeth Cross and Memorial Scroll are granted to the next of kin of UK Armed Forces personnel who have died on operations or as a result of an act of terrorism in national recognition of their loss and sacrifice. The Elizabeth Cross is not a posthumous medal for the fallen but an emblem demonstrating tangible national recognition for service families for their loss.

Not all deaths of service personnel are included in this scheme. The death of any service person, whatever the circumstances, is a tragic loss to his or her family and to the Armed Forces as a whole, but the Elizabeth Cross was instituted specifically to recognise the unique challenges that service personnel face on operations and from terrorism, and the particular burden this places on service families.

The first Elizabeth Crosses and Memorial Scrolls were granted from 1 August 2009 (and retrospectively to the end of the World War 2). All eligible next of kin of those who died between 1 January 1948 to date (see below ‘Eligibility’) are strongly advised to apply, although the MOD Medal Office will endeavour to establish contact with the more recent eligible families, where up to date contact details are held. See below: ‘Recipients and How to Apply’.

Description

The Elizabeth Cross is made of hallmarked silver and is in the form of a cross with a laurel wreath passing between the arms. The arms of the Cross bear floral symbols representing England (Rose), Scotland (Thistle), Ireland (Shamrock) and Wales (Daffodil). The centre of the Cross bears the crowned Cypher of Her Majesty The Queen. The reverse of the Cross is engraved with the name of the service person in whose memory it is granted. The Elizabeth Cross, accompanied by a miniature version, is presented in a black leather style presentation box with the Royal Cypher on the lid and the Royal Coat of Arms on the inner silk lining.

The Memorial Scroll

The Memorial Scroll is on parchment style paper, headed with the Royal Coat of Arms and the following words “This Scroll Commemorates…who gave his/her life for Queen and Country on…” The Scroll bears the signature of Her Majesty The Queen in the upper left hand corner.

Eligibility

Eligible personnel to be remembered in this way are those who were serving with, or former members of the Regular and Reserve Armed Forces or the Royal Fleet Auxiliary when deployed in direct support of a designated operation.

The next of kin of eligible personnel whose deaths fall into the following categories are to be recognised:

  • those who died from whatever cause whilst serving on a medal earning operation. Medal earning operations are those in which deployed personnel received a Campaign Medal, GSM or OSM which demonstrated the risk and rigour involved. Operations where a UN, NATO or other international body or other nations’ campaign medal was accepted for wear, in the absence of a UK medal also qualify
  • those who died as a result of an act of terrorism where the available evidence suggests that the service person, whether on or off duty, was targeted because of his or her membership of the UK Armed Forces
  • those who died on a non medal earning operational task where death has been caused by the inherent high risk of the task
  • those who died a subsequent and premature death as a result of an injury or illness attributed to the circumstances outlined above

In addition to recognising future operational deaths in this way, deaths in the circumstances outlined above that occurred after 1 January 1948, or as a result of service in Palestine since 27 September 1945, will be recognised retrospectively. These dates reflect the fact that the Commonwealth War Graves Commission attributed deaths up to 1 January 1948 to World War 2 service - with the exception of Palestine.

Recipients and how to apply

Next of kin can apply for both the Elizabeth Cross and Memorial Scroll. For retrospective claims and when the next of kin is deceased, their legal successor may apply. Only one Elizabeth Cross is granted for each death recognised.

An additional Memorial Scroll only is available to the following (or their legal successors) where they are not the next of kin:

  • the parents of the deceased
  • the spouse/partner of the deceased or someone who had a substantive relationship with the deceased

Note, that as a Memorial Scroll was issued at the time to those who died in the Korean War, the Elizabeth Cross only (and not the new Memorial Scroll) will be issued in remembrance of those who died during that war.

Presentation of Elizabeth Cross and Memorial Scroll

For new qualifying deaths after 1 August 2009, it is intended that, in most cases, the next of kin will be offered the opportunity for the Elizabeth Cross and Memorial Scroll to be presented privately and in an appropriate way at the time of the funeral if they so wish.

For retrospective cases, next of kin who are resident in the UK will be offered the choice of whether they wish to receive the Elizabeth Cross and Memorial Scroll at a formal presentation ceremony in the region where they live. Such presentations may be made by a Lord Lieutenant or a senior military representative. It is likely to be some months before these events are arranged as locations will very much depend on the number of recipients living in a particular region and we cannot establish this until applications are received. Further details will be sent to those who are to receive the Elizabeth Cross and Memorial Scroll.

If they prefer, families may choose to receive the Elizabeth Cross and Memorial Scroll by Recorded Delivery post. Next of kin living overseas will normally receive the Elizabeth Cross and Memorial Scroll in this way.

France and Germany Star

France and Germany Star World War 2
Northwest Europe 1944 to 1945

Ribbon

In the colours of the Union flag, also symbolising those of France and the Netherlands, a central red stripe flanked by white and blue stripes of equal width.

Criteria

Star awarded for 1 or more days’ service in France, Belgium, Luxembourg, Netherlands or Germany between the above dates. Naval personnel will qualify for service afloat in the North Sea and English Channel within certain specified boundaries.

RAF air crew, who have not already qualified by service on land, will qualify with one operational sortie over the appropriate land or sea area.

Campaign History

Concurrently to the campaigns in the Far East, the Allies were preparing for a final campaign in Northwest Europe. On 6 June 1944 (D-Day) British, American and Canadian forces landed on the beaches of Northern France.

Over the next year the British, American and Canadian forces advanced across Western Europe, liberating German occupied France, Belgium and the Netherlands. At the same time the Russians advanced from the East, through German occupied Poland, Hungary, Slovakia and Austria towards Berlin.

German forces surrendered when the Allies reached Berlin, bringing the war in Europe to an end on 8 May 1945.

General Service Medal (1962) and clasps

General Service Medal 1962
Awarded to all ranks for all campaigns and operations

Medal

Silver and circular in shape. The obverse of the medal shows the crowned effigy of Queen Elizabeth II, while the reverse bears the image of an oak wreath surrounding the words ‘For Campaign Service’.

Clasp

13 different clasps have been awarded with the GSM 1962. Award of clasps to the GSM are not denoted by the wearing of an emblem when the ribbon alone is worn.

Ribbon

A wide central purple stripe flanked by narrow green stripes.

About the GSM 1962

Until 1962 separate GSMs had been issued to Naval personnel (the Naval GSM 1915) and Army and RAF personnel (the GSM 1918). The GSM 1962 was instituted in 1962 to replace these medals and was awarded to personnel of all services for campaigns and operations that fell short of full scale war.

Since its inception, it has been awarded for 13 such campaigns: ‘Borneo’, ‘Radfan’, ‘South Arabia’, ‘Malay Peninsula’, ‘South Vietnam’, ‘Northern Ireland’, ‘Dhofar’, ‘Lebanon’, ‘Mine Clearance Gulf of Suez’, ‘Gulf’, ‘Kuwait’, ‘N. Iraq and S. Turkey’ and ‘Air Operations Iraq’.

Award of any new clasps to the GSM was discontinued on 31 December 1999 on the introduction of the new OSM on 1 January 2000.

George Cross

George Cross
Gallantry award for civilians and military not on operations

Medal

A plain, bordered cross in silver. The obverse of the medal (shown here) bears in the centre a circular medallion depicting St. George and the Dragon surrounded by the words ‘FOR GALLANTRY’. In the angle of each limb of the cross is the Royal Cypher ‘GVI’. The reverse is plain in design and bears the rank, name and service, or description, if appropriate, of the recipient. The date of notification of the award in the London Gazette, rather than the date of the act of gallantry, is also engraved.

Clasp

A silver bar ornamented with laurels in the same design as the suspender may be issued to GC holders performing a further act of such bravery which would have merited award of the GC, though none have been awarded to date.

Ribbon

Dark blue. When the ribbon alone is worn a replica of the cross in miniature is affixed to the centre of the ribbon.

Criteria

The highest gallantry award for civilians, the GC is also awarded to military personnel for those acts for which military honours would not normally granted, such as acts of gallantry not in the presence of the enemy.

History

As Britain came under intense air attack during the summer of 1940, Winston Churchill introduced a new medal to recognise the many acts of gallantry being performed by civilians. Although awards to recognise civilian gallantry not in presence of the enemy already existed, none held the prestige of the equivalent award for gallantry in battle, the Victoria Cross.

The King agreed and in January 1941 the Warrant relating to award of the George Cross was published. Those holders of the Empire Gallantry Medal, Albert Medal and the Edward Medal which had been awarded prior to the introduction of the GC, were all invited to exchange their awards for the GC.

To date, 157 GCs have been awarded directly, including 4 to women, with 47 of those awarded since 1947. The 3 most recent recipients of the George Cross have been Army personnel serving in Afghanistan and Iraq. One was awarded posthumously for gallantry displayed both before and after sustaining mortal injuries when entering a minefield in Afghanistan. The other 2 were awarded for service in Iraq, for gallantry displayed in a ‘friendly fire’ incident and for gallantry displayed after receiving severe injuries caused by an Improvised Explosive Device. All were hugely courageous acts, although not in actual presence of the enemy, and therefore were successfully considered for award of the GC.

George Medal

Awarded to civilians for acts of great bravery but not so outstanding as to merit consideration for the George Cross. The George Medal is also awarded to military personnel for those acts for which military honours would not normally be granted, such as acts of great bravery not in presence of the enemy.

Medal

Silver and circular in shape. The obverse of the medal (shown here) shows the crowned effigy of the current reigning monarch (although King George VI is shown here). The reverse bears the image of St. George on horseback slaying the dragon, circumscribed by the words ‘The George Medal’.

Clasp

A silver bar with laurel leaves may be issued to George Medal holders performing a further act of such bravery which would have merited award of the GM. When the ribbon alone is worn, a silver rosette denotes award of the clasp.

Ribbon

Crimson with 5 narrow stripes of blue.

Criteria

Awarded to civilians for acts of great bravery but not so outstanding as to merit consideration for the George Cross. The GM is also awarded to military personnel for those acts for which military honours would not normally granted, such as acts of great bravery not in presence of the enemy.

History

The George Medal was introduced at the same time as the George Cross when, during the summer of 1940 as Britain came under intense air attack, Winston Churchill introduced a new medal to recognise the many acts of gallantry performed by civilians. In January 1941 the King published Warrants relating to award of the GC for outstanding gallantry, and the GM for outstanding bravery.

The Queen’s Golden Jubilee Medal

Medal

Cupronickel with a gilt finish and circular in shape. The obverse of the medal shows the crowned effigy of Queen Elizabeth. The reverse bears a shield of the Royal Coat of Arms surmounted by a Crown and flanked by the dates ‘1952’ and ‘2002’.

Ribbon

A narrow central stripe of red, flanked each side by a narrow stripe of white, a broad stripe of blue and a further narrow stripe of red.

Criteria

Awarded to personnel of the Regular, Reserve and Cadet forces who were in effective service on 6 February 2002, who had completed 5 full calendar years reckonable service and were properly enlisted on or before 7 February 1997.

The medal was issued unnamed. Full details are laid out in DCI JS 6/02.

GSM Canal Zone

General Service Medal with clasp
Clasp to the General Service Medal (GSM) 1918 ‘Canal Zone’

Medal

The GSM is silver and circular in shape. The obverse of the medal shows the crowned effigy of Queen Elizabeth II, while the reverse bears the standing winged figure of Victory in a Greek helmet and carrying a trident, bestowing a wreath on the emblems of the Army (the sword) and the RAF (the wings).

Clasp

‘Canal Zone’. 17 different clasps have been awarded with the GSM 1918. Award of clasps to the GSM are not denoted by the wearing of an emblem when the ribbon alone is worn.

Ribbon

A central stripe of green flanked by purple stripes.

Criteria

Awarded for 30 days continuous service during the above mentioned dates within certain specified geographical boundaries in Egypt.

About the General Service Medal 1918

The GSM 1918 was awarded to Army and RAF personnel (Naval personnel were awarded the separate Naval GSM 1915). It was awarded for a total of 17 campaigns and operations that fell short of full scale war.

These were: ‘S. Persia’, ‘Kurdistan’, ‘Iraq’, ‘N. W. Persia’, ‘Southern Desert Iraq’, ‘Northern Kurdistan’, ‘Palestine’, ‘S. E. Asia 1945 to 1946’, ‘Bomb and Mine Clearance 1945 1949’, ‘Bomb and Mine Clearance 1945 to 1956’, ‘Palestine 1945 to 1948’, ‘Malaya’, ‘Cyprus’, ‘Near East’, ‘Arabian Peninsula’, ‘Brunei’ and ‘Canal Zone’. A separate clasp signified each of these campaigns and operations.

Only one GSM was awarded to each service person, no matter how many GSM qualifying areas they served in.

On the first occasion that a service person qualified for a GSM, the medal was awarded with the relevant clasp. Should the service person subsequently have been deployed to another GSM qualifying area, then the relevant clasp only was awarded, to be added to the ribbon and worn above the first clasp.

The image on the obverse of the medal changed as the reigning monarchs (George V, George VI and Elizabeth II) and their titles changed over the years.

Although the reigning monarch changed during the Suez campaign, Queen Elizabeth II appears on all the GSMs issued for the Canal Zone because it was Queen Elizabeth that approved award of the clasp to the GSM ‘Canal Zone’.

The GSM 1918 and the Naval GSM 1915 were discontinued in 1962 when a new GSM was introduced to be issued to personnel of all services. The GSM 1962 had a new design on the reverse and a new ribbon.

Gulf Medal (1990 to 1991)

Medal

Cupronickel and circular in shape. The obverse of the medal shows the crowned effigy of Queen Elizabeth. The reverse bears a modern ‘combined operations’ badge surrounded by the words ‘The Gulf Medal’ and the dates ‘1990 to 1991’.

Clasp

Two clasps were awarded, one bearing the dates ‘16 Jan to 28 Feb 1991’ and the other ‘2 Aug 1990’. When the ribbon alone is worn, a silver rosette denotes award of the clasp.

Ribbon

A wide central stripe of pale buff flanked on each side by narrow stripes of light blue, red and dark blue.

Criteria

The Medal with clasp ‘16 Jan to 28 Feb 1991’ was awarded for 7 days continuous service in the theatre of operations as defined in the regulations between these dates, which signify the dates of the actual war.

The medal with clasp ‘2 Aug 1990’ was awarded to the members of the Kuwait Liaison Team who were in Kuwait on this date.

The medal alone was awarded for 30 days continuous service in the area of operations as defined in the regulations between 2 August 1990 and 7 March 1991. Full details are laid out in DCI Gen 185/91.

Gulf War: foreign awards

The governments of Kuwait and Saudi Arabia struck and issued medals to the allied personnel who had taken part in the liberation of Kuwait. Known as the Kuwaiti Liberation Medal and the Saudi Arabian Medal for the liberation of Kuwait, permission was granted for British Service personnel to accept, but not wear, the medals.

Honours and Gallantry Awards

Medals awarded for gallantry or distinguished service

While the Order of the Bath had been used to recognise acts of gallantry by officers of field rank or above no official awards for gallantry existed until the introduction of the Distinguished Conduct Medal (DCM) in 1854 and the acts of gallantry seen during the Crimean War.

The DCM was then awarded to the other ranks in the Army for acts of gallantry. In 1855, the Conspicuous Gallantry Medal was introduced as the Naval equivalent to the DCM, to be awarded to the other ranks in the RN.

Despite the introduction of these 2 new awards for individual acts of gallantry there was no award that could be bestowed upon junior officers. With the continuation of the war in the Crimea came the realisation that a further prestigious gallantry award for both officers and other ranks in both services was required.

In 1856 the Victoria Cross was instituted for this purpose and it remains the premier award for gallantry for the UK Armed Forces.

Since the Crimean War further awards to recognise gallantry have been introduced, including awards for civilians, and for officers and airmen in the newly formed RAF. The awards fall into 2 categories: those issued for acts of gallantry on operations in presence of the enemy and those issued for gallantry at all other times.

A significant review of gallantry awards was undertaken by the government in 1993 which resulted in an end to the two tier system whereby one type of medal would be issued to officers and a different type to the other ranks.

For example, the Distinguished Conduct Medal, awarded since the Crimea to the other ranks of the Army, and the Distinguished Service Order awarded to officers, both ceased to be awarded on the creation of the new Conspicuous Gallantry Cross which may be awarded to all ranks.

Recipients of these level 1 to level 3 awards may use the appropriate abbreviation (as shown in brackets in the table below) as a post nominal.

TABLE 1: The hierarchy of gallantry, leadership and bravery awards for active operations in presence of the enemy:

Level 1 Victoria Cross    
Level 2 Distinguished Service Order Conspicuous Gallantry Cross  
Level 3 Distinguished Service Cross Military Cross Distinguished Flying Cross
Level 4 Mention in Despatches    

TABLE 2: The hierarchy of gallantry, leadership and bravery awards for non active operations not in the presence of the enemy:

Level 1 George Cross  
Level 2 George Medal  
Level 3 Queen’s Gallantry Medal Air Force Cross
Level 4 Queen’s Commendation for Bravery Queen’s Commendation for Bravery in the air

Iraq medal, 2003 onwards

Medal

Cupronickel and circular in shape. The obverse of the medal shows the crowned effigy of Queen Elizabeth II, while the reverse bears the image of the Lamassu (a sculpture dating from the Assyrian period), above the word ‘IRAQ’.

Clasp ‘19 Mar to 28 Apr 2003’.

Awarded with the Medal for service during the initial conflict in specified areas between specified dates as detailed below. When the ribbon alone is worn, a silver rosette denotes award of the clasp.

Ribbon

Equally sized central narrow stripes of black, white and red (to represent the Iraq flag), flanked on either side by an equal sized band of sand colour to reflect the landscape of Iraq.

Criteria

The Iraq Medal was awarded for 30 days continuous service on Op Telic in specified qualifying areas of the Middle East between specified dates during the build up to and the conflict in 2003.

The Iraq Medal is now awarded for 30 days continuous service on Op Telic in Iraq. Air crew are awarded the Medal for 10 sorties into Iraq.

The Iraq Medal with clasp ‘19 Mar to 28 Apr 2003’ was awarded for 7 days continuous service on Op Telic in Kuwait or Iraq between the dates of the conflict (19 March to 28 April 2003). Air crew were awarded the Medal with clasp for 2 sorties into Kuwait or Iraq between those dates. Naval personnel were awarded the Medal with clasp for 7 days continuous service at sea within certain specified geographical boundaries between those dates.

Subsequent tours to Iraq are not recognised by award of bars or numerals. There is no precedent for this in British medals, though it has been the case in NATO medals. Full details are laid out in DCI JS 34/04 and were amended in 2005DIN 01-009.

Amount issued

To date, the Medal Office has received over 108,000 applications for the Iraq Medal and Medal with clasp. To put this figure into context, more medals have been awarded for service in Iraq than for the South Atlantic and Gulf War added together. Each of those medal issues took more than 2 years to complete and had the benefit of being finite in duration whereas Op Telic is still ongoing and applications are still being received.

Italy Star

Italy Star
For Italy and Sicily, 1943-1945

Ribbon

In the colours of the Italian flag, a central green stripe flanked by white and red stripes of equal width.

Criteria

Star awarded for 1 or more days’ service in Sicily or Italy between the above dates relevant to each campaign.

Those serving in Yugoslavia, Greece, Corsica or Sardinia between certain other specified dates will also qualify.

Naval personnel must qualify first for the 1939 to 1945 Star before the Italy Star can be awarded. It is then awarded for service at sea in the Mediterranean between the above dates provided that it was directly connected with active operations in the Mediterranean theatre.

Certain special conditions apply governing award of the Star for those naval personnel entering service less than 6 months before the end of the qualifying period.

RAF air crew service in operations against the enemy from bases within the Mediterranean theatre will also qualify with one operational sortie.

Campaign History

After victory in North Africa, the Allies used the position of Tunisia and Malta to invade Sicily. This campaign in Sicily took place from 10 July 1943 to 17 August 1943.

After this swift victory, the Allies pressed on into Italy, with this campaign beginning on 3 September 1943, and also invaded Italian occupied Greece, Yugoslavia, Corsica and Sardinia. The campaign in Italy itself continued to the end of the war in Europe on 8 May 1945.

LS and GCM (Army)

Long service and good conduct medal - army
Long Service and Good Conduct medal for the Army

Medal

Silver and circular in shape with a fixed suspender bearing the words ‘Regular Army’. The obverse (shown here) of the medal shows the crowned effigy of Queen Elizabeth II, while the reverse bears the words ‘For Long service and Good Conduct’.

Clasp

Bears the image of the Army Crest. When the ribbon alone is worn, a silver rosette denotes award of the clasp.

Ribbon

Maroon flanked at the edges by narrow stripes of white.

Criteria

A soldier who completes 15 years reckonable service from date of attestation or age 17½, whichever is later, shall be eligible for consideration, though there are a number of offences/misconduct which would normally preclude award of the LS and GCM. Awards are only made after a comprehensive check of a soldier’s record of service.

As this medal requires the recommendation of the individuals’ commanding officer it can only be awarded to serving personnel.

A soldier who, subsequent to award of the medal, goes on to complete a further 15 years service shall be eligible for award of the clasp to the LS and GCM provided that the conduct/discipline criteria have been met.

An officer shall be eligible for award of the LS and GCM if 12 or more of the 15 years service has been in the ranks and provided that the other criteria have been met. An officer shall be eligible for award of the clasp if 22 or more of the 30 years service has been in the ranks and provided that the other criteria have been met.

Prior to 1 December 1977, 18 years service was required for consideration for the LS and GCM.

The qualifying criteria are laid out in the Queens Regulations Paras 5.393 to 5.396 and 10.008 to 10.0011.

LS and GCM (RAF)

Long service and good conduct medal - RAF
Long Service and Good Conduct medal for the RAF

Medal

Silver and circular in shape. The obverse of the medal shows the effigy of Queen Elizabeth II while the reverse bears the image of an Eagle with outstretched wings surmounted by the Crown with the words ‘For Long service and Good Conduct’ around the circumference.

Clasp

Bears the image of an eagle with outstretched wings surmounted by the Crown. When the ribbon alone is worn, a silver rosette denotes award of the clasp.

Ribbon

Equally sized central stripes of maroon and dark blue flanked at the edges by narrow stripes of white.

Criteria

An airman who completes 15 years reckonable service from date of attestation or age 17½, whichever is later, shall be eligible for consideration and their conduct/discipline record will be checked. Airman currently reaching their 15 year point may qualify despite lowered conduct assessments. Awards are only made after a comprehensive check of an airman’s record of service.

As this medal requires the recommendation of the individuals’ commanding officer, it can only be awarded to serving personnel.

From 1 April 2001 an airman who has not yet completed 8 years qualifying service (ie was attested or aged 17½ after 1 April 1993) will become eligible only after 15 years service with consecutive conduct assessments of ‘exemplary’. There are a number of offences/misconduct which would normally preclude award of the LS and GCM.

An airman who, subsequent to award of the Medal, goes on to complete a further 15 years service shall be eligible for award of the clasp to the LS and GCM provided that the conduct/discipline criteria have been met.

An officer shall be eligible for award of the LS and GCM if 12 or more of the 15 years service has been in the ranks and provided that the other criteria have been met. An officer shall be eligible for award of the clasp if 22 or more of the 30 years service has been in the ranks and provided that the other criteria have been met.

Prior to 1 December 1977, 18 years service was required for consideration for the LS and GCM.

Full details are laid out in the Queens Regulations (RAF) Appendix 28C and AP3392 Vol 4 Leaflet 2006 Annex B

LS and GCM (RN)

Long service and good conduct medal - RN and RM
Long Service and Good Conduct medal for the Royal Navy

Medal

Silver and circular in shape. The obverse of the medal shows the effigy of Queen Elizabeth II, while the reverse bears the image of a three masted man of war surrounded by a rope tied at the foot with a reef knot with the words ‘For Long service and Good Conduct’ around the circumference.

Clasp

Bears a laurel leaf design. When the ribbon alone is worn, a silver rosette denotes award of the clasp.

Ribbon

Dark blue flanked at the edges by narrow stripes of white.

Criteria

An other rank who completes 15 years reckonable service from date of attestation or age 17½, whichever is later, and is a holder of all 3 good conduct badges, shall be eligible for consideration provided that their character has continuously not been lower than ‘very good’. There are a number of offences / misconduct which would normally preclude award of the LS and GCM. Awards are only made after a comprehensive check of a sailor’s record of service.

As this medal requires the recommendation of the individuals’ commanding officer, it can only be awarded to serving personnel.

Any other rank who, subsequent to award of the Medal, goes on to complete a further 15 years service shall be eligible for award of the clasp to the LS and GCM provided that the conduct / discipline criteria have been met.

An officer shall be eligible for award of the LS and GCM if 12 or more of the 15 years service has been in the ranks and provided that the other criteria have been met. An officer shall be eligible for award of the clasp if 22 or more of the 30 years service has been in the ranks and provided that the other criteria have been met.

Prior to 1 December 1977, 18 years service was required for consideration for the LS and GCM.

Full details are laid out in RN BR 8748 from 0712.

Military Cross

Awarded to all ranks of the RN, RM, Army, and RAF in recognition of exemplary gallantry during active operations against the enemy on land.

Medal

An ornamental cross in silver, with straight arms terminating in broad finals ornamented with Imperial Crowns. At the centre on the cross is the Royal Cypher (King George VI shown here). The reverse of the cross is plain in design, though at certain times the year of the award has been engraved.

Clasp

A silver bar ornamented by the Crown may be issued to MC holders performing a further act of such gallantry which would have merited award of the MC.

Ribbon

A central stripe of deep purple flanked by equally sized stripes of white.

Criteria

All ranks of the RN, RM, Army, and RAF in recognition of exemplary gallantry during active operations against the enemy on land.

History

Instituted in 1914, the Military Cross was issued for gallantry in presence of the enemy to warrant and junior officers of the Army who were ineligible (on account of their rank) for the Distinguished Service Order. During World War 1 it was also available to equivalent ranks in the Royal Naval Division and Royal Marines (RM) and it later became available to equivalent ranks in the RAF for acts of gallantry on land.

The equivalent award for the other ranks for gallantry on land in presence of the enemy was the Military Medal which was instituted in 1916 and, like the MC, later became available to RAF other ranks serving on the ground.

Following the 1993 review the MM was discontinued and the MC became available to all ranks of all services for exemplary gallantry on land in presence of the enemy. It is at a level below the Conspicuous Gallantry Cross and is at the equivalent level to the Distinguished Service Cross (for exemplary gallantry at sea) and the Distinguished Flying Cross (for exemplary gallantry in the air).

Meritorious Service Medal

Meritorious Service Medal
Recognises longterm service in the armed forces

Medal

Silver and circular in shape. The obverse of the medal shows the crowned effigy of Queen Elizabeth II, while the reverse bears the words ‘For Meritorious Service’ encircled by a laurel wreath and surmounted by the Imperial Crown.

Ribbon

Crimson flanked at the edges by narrow stripes of white and a narrow white stripe down the centre.

Criteria

This same medal is issued to personnel in all the services, although the administration procedures differ between them. The eligibility criteria are the same for the RN, RM, Army and RAF. To become eligible for consideration, other ranks personnel must have 20 years reckonable service, attained the rank of substantive Sergeant (if in the Army or RAF) and be a holder of the Long Service and Good Conduct Medal. Officers may be considered on one occasion only, immediately after commissioning, provided they meet the other criteria.

Award of the Medal requires good, faithful, valuable and meritorious service with conduct judged to be irreproachable throughout. The Service Boards look for evidence of particular achievements, whether in the course of military duty or in extra mural involvement which benefits the service or the public in the field of sport or such things as charitable work. To reinforce the special character of the MSM, limits are placed on the number that may be awarded annually. No more than 49 may be awarded in the RN, 3 in the RM, 89 in the Army and 60 in the RAF, though historically many fewer than these numbers are actually awarded.

Citations

RN citations recommending candidates may be submitted by Commanding Officers no later than 1st April and 1st October each year. Cases are then considered by the Naval Secretary. Full details are laid out in BR 8748.

In the Army, citations recommending soldiers may be submitted by Commanding Officers no later than 1st April and 1st October each year. Cases are then considered by the Army Medal Board. Full details are laid out in the QRs Paras 5.392 and 10.006 to 10.007. Additional information was recently published in DIN 2006DIN10-006.

The RAF is currently in the process of reviewing their MSM procedure, with a move to a citation led process the most likely outcome. A DIN will be published shortly with the results of the review.

Medal

The Naval GSM is silver and circular in shape. The obverse of the medal shows the crowned effigy of Queen Elizabeth II, while the reverse bears the image of Britannia on 2 sea horses travelling through the sea, her left hand resting on the Union Shield and her right holding a trident.

Clasp

17 different clasps have been awarded with the GSM 1915. Award of clasps to the GSM are not denoted by the wearing of an emblem when the ribbon alone is worn.

Ribbon

A wide central white stripe divided by 2 narrow crimson stripes and flanked by crimson edges.

Criteria

Awarded for 30 days continuous service during the above mentioned dates within the territorial waters of Egypt and the Canal.

About the Naval General Service Medal 1915

The Naval GSM 1915 was awarded to RN and RM personnel. It was awarded for a total of 17 campaigns and operations that fell short of full scale war. (Army and RAF personnel were awarded the separate GSM 1918.)

These were ‘Persian Gulf 1909 to 1914’, ‘Iraq 1919 to 1920’, ‘N. W. Persia 1919 to 1920’, ‘Palestine 1936 to 1939’, ‘S. E. Asia 1945 to 1946’, ‘Minesweeping 1945 to 1951’, ‘Palestine 1945 to 1948’, ‘Malaya’, ‘Yangtze 1949’, ‘Bomb and Mine Clearance 1945 to 1953’, ‘Bomb and Mine Clearance 1945 to 1956’, ‘Bomb and Mine Clearance Mediterranean’, ‘Cyprus’, ‘Near East’, ‘Arabian Peninsula’, ‘Brunei’ and ‘Canal Zone’.

A separate clasp signified each of these campaigns and operations. Only one GSM was awarded to each service person, no matter how many GSM qualifying areas they served in. On the first occasion that a service person qualified for a GSM, the medal was awarded with the relevant clasp. Should the service person subsequently have been deployed to another GSM qualifying area, then the relevant clasp only was awarded, to be added to the ribbon and worn above the first clasp.

The image on the obverse of the medal changed as the reigning monarchs (George V, George VI and Elizabeth II) and their titles changed over the years.

Although the reigning monarch changed during the Suez campaign, Queen Elizabeth II appears on all the GSMs issued for the Canal Zone because it was Queen Elizabeth that approved award of the clasp to the GSM ‘Canal Zone’.

The Naval GSM 1915 and the GSM 1918 were discontinued in 1962 when a new GSM was introduced to be issued to personnel of all services. The GSM 1962 had a new design on the reverse and a new ribbon.

Operational Service Medal for the Democratic Republic of Congo

Operational Service Medal with clasp: Congo
Operational Service Medal for the Democratic Republic of Congo

Medal

Silver and circular in shape. The obverse of the medal shows the crowned effigy of Queen Elizabeth. The reverse bears the Union Flag, surrounded by the inscription ‘For Operational Service’ and the 4 major points of the compass, with 4 Coronets: Royal (top left), Naval (top right), Mural Army (bottom left), and Astral RAF (bottom right).

Clasp

‘DROC’. Medal issued with clasp in every case. When the ribbon alone is worn, a silver rosette will also be worn.

Ribbon

A broad central red stripe, flanked each side by a stripe of royal blue and one of light blue, to represent the 3 services, with an outer stripe of ochre to reflect the landscape of the Congo.

Criteria

Medal with clasp awarded to those personnel with 25 days continuous service between 14 June to 10 September 2003 on Op Coral within the boundaries of the Ituri Province. Full details are laid out in 2005DIN 01-012.

About the OSM

The new OSM was introduced on 1 January 2000 and at the same time the GSM was discontinued, with the exception of the award of the GSM for Northern Ireland. Since its introduction, 3 OSMs have been issued: for service in Sierra Leone, Afghanistan and the Democratic Republic of Congo. Although each OSM will look the same, separate ribbons will denote each separate award. A clasp may be awarded with the OSM to signify service in a more dangerous area or period of conflict.

Operational Service Medal for Sierra Leone

Medal

Silver and circular in shape. The obverse (shown here) of the medal shows the crowned effigy of Queen Elizabeth. The reverse bears the Union Flag, surrounded by the inscription ‘For Operational Service’ and the 4 major points of the compass, with 4 Coronets: Royal (top left), Naval (top right), Mural Army (bottom left), and Astral RAF (bottom right).

Clasp

No clasp issued

Ribbon

A broad central red stripe, flanked each side by a stripe of royal blue and one of light blue, to represent the 3 services, with an outer stripe of green to reflect the landscape of Sierra Leone.

Criteria

Awarded for service on any of 5 operations in Sierra Leone or the Joint Operational Area which included Senegal.

Awarded for either 14, 21, 30 or 45 days continuous or accumulated service required between certain specified dates on either Op Palliser, Basilica or Silkman. Also awarded to those deployed on Op Maidenly or Op Barras on specified dates.

Full details are laid out in DCI JS 78/02.

Operational Service Medal

The new OSM was introduced on 1 January 2000 and at the same time the GSM was discontinued; with the exception of the award of the GSM for Northern Ireland.

Since its introduction 3 OSMs have been issued: for service in Sierra Leone, Afghanistan and the Democratic Republic of Congo. Although each OSM will look the same, separate ribbons will denote each separate award. A clasp may be awarded with the OSM to signify service in a more dangerous area or period of conflict.

Other awards

Awards and badges not issued by the MOD Medal Office

You can find more information about all these awards on the Veterans UK website.

Pacific Star: Malaya, Singapore and the Pacific Ocean

Pacific Star
Pacific Star: Malaya, Singapore and the Pacific Ocean

Ribbon

A wide central stripe of green bisected by a central narrow yellow stripe to represent the forests and beaches of the Pacific, flanked by one stripe of dark blue and one of light blue with red edges to represent the 3 services. Worn with the dark blue stripe furthest from the left shoulder.

Criteria

Star awarded for one or more days’ service in Malaya or Singapore between the above dates. Those serving in China, Hong Kong or Sumatra between certain other specified dates will also qualify.

Naval personnel must qualify first for the 1939 to 1945 Star before the Pacific Star can be awarded. It is then awarded for service at sea in the Pacific within certain specified boundaries.

Certain special conditions apply governing award of the star for those Naval personnel entering service less than 6 months before the end of the qualifying period.

RAF air crew engaged in operations against the enemy will also qualify provided that at least one operational sortie has been completed.

Campaign History

At the same time as the campaigns in Africa and Italy, British and American forces were also fighting the Japanese in the Pacific.

This campaign began on 8 December 1941, the day after the Japanese bombed the American fleet at Pearl Harbor. It took place in the sea and air of the Pacific and on the ground with the British defending Malaya and Singapore from Japanese invasion. The Japanese quickly gained superiority in the Pacific and managed to invade Malaya, Singapore, Burma and the Philippines with relative ease.

The campaign on land ended on 15 February 1942 with defeat for the British when Singapore fell and tens of thousands of servicemen were taken prisoner of war by the Japanese. The campaign at sea continued until 2 September 1945.

Post World War 2 medals

Numerous medals have been issued after World War 2 to recognise service in wars, conflicts and operations around the world.

Service in many of the conflicts has been recognised with award of a clasp to the GSM. For example, the clasp ‘Air Operations Iraq’ which was issued to those on operations in support of patrolling the no fly zone of Iraq between 1991 and 2003.

For service in wars and large scale conflicts, single, standalone medals have often been issued, for example: the South Atlantic medal for service in the Falklands War in 1982. In some cases a clasp was also issued with the medal to those who had served in the most dangerous areas during the most hostile period.

Those who served in theatres of operations in specified areas during the actual period of hostilities during the 1990 to 1991 Gulf War were awarded the clasp inscribed ‘16 Jan to 28 Feb 1991’ with their Gulf Medal.

Medals have also been issued by NATO and the United Nations for service on NATO and UN operations. These medals then require approval for wear which is granted formally by the Queen if it has been recommended by the Defence Services Secretariat. A number of NATO Medals issued for service in the Balkans from 1992 onwards are approved for wear.

Queen’s Gallantry Medal

Awarded to civilians for acts of exemplary bravery at a level below that of the George Medal.

Medal

Silver and circular in shape. The obverse of the medal shows the crowned effigy of the monarch. The reverse bears the image of an imperial crown above the words ‘The Queen’s Gallantry Medal’ flanked by laurel sprigs.

Clasp

Silver bar with laurel leaves may be issued to QGM holders performing a further act of such bravery which would have merited award of the QGM. When the ribbon alone is worn, a silver rosette denotes award of the clasp.

Ribbon

Blue with a central stripe of pearl grey bisected by a narrow stripe of rose pink.

Awarded to

Awarded to civilians for acts of exemplary bravery, at a level below that of the George Medal. The QGM is also awarded to military personnel for those acts for which military honours would not normally be granted, such as acts of exemplary bravery not in presence of the enemy.

History

The Queen’s Gallantry Medal was instituted in 1974 to recognise acts of gallantry of a slightly lower degree than that required for the George Cross and George Medal. Previously, these acts of bravery had been recognised by awards in the Order of the British Empire, with the choice of level in that Order being determined not by the degree of gallantry displayed, but by the rank or level of responsibility held by the individual.

By 1974 it was recognised that ranks and levels of responsibility were not relevant when making awards for gallantry, so awards in the Order of the British Empire were discontinued on the introduction of the new Queen’s Gallantry Medal.

South Atlantic: The South Atlantic Medal

South Atlantic medal
Awarded for the Falklands War in 1982

Medal

Cupronickel and circular in shape. The obverse of the medal shows the crowned effigy of Queen Elizabeth. The reverse bears a representation of the coat of arms of the Falkland Islands, surrounded by the words ‘South Atlantic Medal’ and a laurel wreath.

Clasp

No clasp issued though a rosette was awarded to be worn on the ribbon for those who served for one day between 2 Apr and 14 Jun 1982 within certain specified geographical boundaries.

Ribbon

A central stripe of sea green flanked on each side by stripes of white and empire blue, shaded and watered.

Criteria

The medal with distinguishing rosette was awarded for 1 days’ service in the Falkland Islands or their dependencies or in the South Atlantic, south of 35° South and north of 60° South, or for 1 operational sortie south of Ascension Island, between 2 April and 14 June 1982.

The medal alone was awarded for 30 days continuous or accumulated service in the South Atlantic, south of 7° South and north of 60° South, commencing between 2 April and 14 June 1982 and completing no later than 12 July 1982.

Full details are laid out in DCI JS: RN J 496/82, Army J 274/82 and RAF J 218/82.

Victoria Cross

The premier award for gallantry.

Medal

A cross pattée in bronze. The obverse of the medal bears a lion statant gardant on the royal crown, with the words ‘FOR VALOUR’ on a semi circular scroll. The reverse bears a circular panel inside which is engraved the date of the act for which the decoration was awarded. The reverse of the suspender is engraved with the rank, name and ship, regiment or squadron of the recipient.

Clasp

A bronze bar ornamented with laurels may be issued to VC holders performing a further act of such bravery which would have merited award of the VC. When the ribbon alone is worn (see below) a further replica in miniature is added.

Ribbon

Plain crimson. Prior to 1918, a dark blue ribbon had been issued for the RN. When the ribbon alone is worn a replica of the cross in miniature is affixed to the centre of the ribbon.

Criteria

The premier award for gallantry, the Victoria Cross may be awarded to all ranks of the services and civilians for gallantry in the presence of the enemy. It may be awarded posthumously.

History

Instituted by Queen Victoria to cover all actions since the outbreak of the Crimean War in 1854, the VC has been awarded 1,356 times and 3 bars have been awarded.

The most recent recipient of the VC is Lance Corporal Ashworth.

In 2004 Private Johnson Beharry from 1st Battalion the Princess of Wales’s Royal Regiment was awarded the honour for 2 separate acts of outstanding gallantry of the highest order while based in Al Amarah, Iraq.

The VC is made from the bronze of Russian guns captured at Sebastopol, though modern research suggests that Chinese guns may have been used at various times.

Volunteer Reserves Service Medal

Volunteer Reserves medal
For service in the Volunteer Reserves

Medal

Silver and oval in shape. The obverse of the medal shows the crowned effigy of Queen Elizabeth II, while the reverse bears the words ‘For Service in the Volunteer Reserves’ above a sprig of oak leaves and acorns beneath.

Clasp

Bears the image of the Queen’s Crown above the letters ‘EIIR’ and stamped on the reverse with the year of award. When the ribbon alone is worn, a silver rosette denotes award of the clasp.

Ribbon

Dark green with narrow central stripes of dark blue, red and light blue, the central stripes being separated from the green by narrow gold stripes.

The VRSM was instituted with effect from 1 April 1999 to replace the separate medals that used to be issued to personnel of the separate Reserve Forces. These were the Royal Naval Reserve Decoration and Reserve Long Service and Good Conduct Medal for the Royal Naval and Royal Marine Reserve, the Territorial Decoration and Efficiency Medal (Territorial) for the Army Reserve (formerly the Territorial Army) and the Air Efficiency Award for the Royal Auxiliary Air Force.

The VRSM is now issued to both officers and other ranks of the Royal Naval and Royal Marine Reserve, the Army Reserve (formerly the Territorial Army) and the Royal Auxiliary Air Force who have served after 31 March 1999. The previous medals may still be awarded for qualifying service ending before 1 April 1999.

Criteria

Reserve personnel shall be eligible for award of the VRSM after 10 years reckonable service in the Reserve Forces, provided that they have earned training bounty as required by their obligatory training commitment as defined in individual service regulations in 9 out of the 10 qualifying years.

Up to 5 years former regular service may count as half qualifying time, giving a maximum of 2 and a half years eligible service. Complex regulations apply to the use of former service and periods of Full Time Regular Service (FTRS) and Non Permanent Regular Service (NPRS) as qualifying time towards the VRSM and the regulations should therefore be studied in detail. Complex regulations also apply to the transition between the former separate service reserve medals and the VRSM.

Any additional period of five years reckonable service shall merit award of the clasp to the VRSM. Full details are laid out in DCI JS 53/99 and, also for the RAUXAF, AP3392 Vol 7 Leaflet 702 Annex B.

War Medal 1939 to 1945

Medal

The War Medal. The obverse of the medal shows the crowned head of King George VI, while the reverse bears a lion standing on a dragon with two heads. Above are the dates 1939 and 1945.

Ribbon

In the colours of the union flag, a narrow central red stripe flanked by narrow white stripes, wider blue stripes and then red.

Criteria

The War Medal was awarded to all full time personnel of the armed forces wherever they were serving, provided they had served for at least 28 days between 3 September 1939 and 2 September 1945.

World War 2 Medals

Summary of the medals and eligibility criteria

Eight stars were issued for the campaigns of World War 2. The stars are a 6 pointed star, in bronze, with the cypher of King George VI in the centre. The title of each star appears around the cypher and also a different ribbon denotes each separate star. The colours of the ribbons have symbolic significance and are believed to have been designed personally by King George VI.

Two medals, the Defence Medal and the War Medal, were issued in recognition of general service in World War 2. These are circular medals made in cupronickel.

The criteria for the award of medals to those who had fought in World War 2 were finalised in 1948. In accordance with the criteria, the medals were issued unnamed.

No more than 5 stars may be awarded to one person. Regulations relating to the award of the Pacific, Burma, Atlantic, Air Crew Europe and France and Germany stars prevent this from happening.

Those who would qualify for more are awarded a clasp with the title of one of the stars to which they qualify. This clasp is then attached to the ribbon of one of the other stars, as laid out in the regulations.

A candidate may qualify for both the Pacific and Burma stars but is only awarded one of these, which will be the first star earned. He will then receive a clasp with the title of the second star earned which is worn on the ribbon of the first.

Another candidate may qualify for 2 or 3 of the Atlantic, Air Crew Europe and France and Germany stars. In this instance the first star earned is awarded. He will then receive a clasp with the title of the second star earned to be worn on the ribbon of the first. A third star or clasp will not be awarded in this case.

The 1939 to 1945 Star, Africa star and Italy star can all be awarded regardless of which other stars are qualified for.

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