The first British medal to be created for bravery, the Victoria Cross was instituted in 1856, with the first recipients being personnel honoured for their gallantry during the Crimean War. The bronze cross, which bears the inscription "For Valour", is cast from the metal of Russian guns captured at Sevastopol during the Crimean campaign. It is awarded "for most conspicuous bravery, or some daring or pre-eminent act of valour or self-sacrifice, or extreme devotion to duty in the presence of the enemy."
Three Servicemen have won the Victoria Cross and Bar - Captain Martin-Leake (1902 and 1914),
Captain Chavasse (1916 and posthumously 1917), and Captain Upham (1941 and 1942).
The Victoria Cross was awarded 634 times during the Great War (inc. 2 bars and American Unknown Warrior).
Distinguished Service Order
Instituted by Queen Victoria in 1886 as a Naval and Military Order of Distinction, designated the Distinguished Service Order, for the purpose of rewarding individual instances of meritorious or distinguished service in war.
Conspicuous Gallantry Medal
The medal was awarded to Chief Petty Officers, Petty Officers and men of the navy (or army or air force personnel of equal rank serving with the fleet) who distinguished themselves by acts of pre-eminent bravery in action with the enemy.
Distinguished Service Cross
Instituted by King Edward the Seventh in 1901 as the Conspicuous Service Cross it later became the Distinguished Service Cross. It is now awarded for exemplary gallantry during active operations at sea.
Distinguished Service Medal
The Distinguished Service Medal is a military decoration for bravery and resourcefulness on active service awarded to junior ranks of the navy (up to and including the rank of Chief Petty Officer). The award was introduced on October 14 1914.
Distinguished Conduct Medal
The Distinguished Conduct Medal was instituted on December 4, 1854 during the Crimean War as an award for bravery in action by "other ranks" i.e. non-commissioned officers and men of the British and Empire armies. The medal was usually accompanied by a small pension. During World War I it was also awarded to men of the Royal Naval Division serving under Army Command.
Instituted by King George the Fifth in 1914. The Military Cross is awarded to commissioned and warrant officers for distinguished and meritorious service in battle. For additional acts of bravery, a straight silver bar was awarded. During the Great War 2,885 of these medals were awarded to British officers.
The Military Medal was established in wartime Britain by King George V on 25 March 1916, a year and a half after Britain declared war against Germany. Its inception was intended to meet the enormous demand for medals during the First World War.
The medal was initially awarded to NCOs and men of the Army (including the Royal Flying Corps and Royal Naval Division) for individual or associated acts of bravery which were insufficient to merit an award of the Distinguished Conduct Medal.
The medal was not however restricted to British or Commonwealth subjects. Awards of the medal were announced in the London Gazette (without an accompanying citation).
Recipients of the medal, which was silver and circular of 36mm in diameter and which featured the head of the monarch on the front, were allowed to list the letters 'MM' after their name. The number of Military Medals awarded were:
|Military Medal + 1 Bar||5,796|
|Military Medal + 2 Bars||180|
|Military Medal + 3 Bars|
Distinguished Flying Cross
Instituted by King George the Fifth on 3rd June 1918 in recognition of the formation of the Royal Air Force. Awarded to commissioned officers and warrant officers for an act or acts of valour, courage or devotion to duty performed whilst flying in active operations against the enemy.
Air Force Cross
The AFC was instituted in June 1918 as an award to officers and warrant officers for courage or devotion to duty while flying, though not in active operations against the enemy. Generally there are no citations in the London Gazette. During World War I, 680 were awarded.
Distinguished Flying Medal
The DFM was instituted together with the DFC in 1918, and was awarded to NCOs and men for bravery whilst flying on operations against the enemy. All the DFM awards are listed in the London Gazette. A few of the First World War entries have a citation. During the Great War, 105 DFMs were awarded, with 2 first award bars.
Air Force Medal
The Air Force Medal was instituted, with the AFC, in June 1918, and was awarded to NCOs and men for courage or devotion to duty whilst flying, though not in active operations against the enemy. 120 AFM's and 2 bars were issued during World War One.
Meritorious Service Medal
The Meritorious Service Medal, which was in existence prior to the First World War, was typically awarded by British military authorities as a means of formally recognising long military service or given acts of merit.
The MSM was first issued in 1902 and was awarded to warrant officers and senior NCOs. Such servicemen were eligible for the award once they had received their army discharge after a period of at least 21 years.
With the vastly increased demand for medals generated by the First World War the MSM was, from 1916, also awarded for acts of gallantry or meritorious conduct when not in the face of the enemy.
Mentioned in Despatches
The awards of a Mentioned in Despatches are published in the London Gazette. A bronze spray of oak leaves to signify a Mention-in-Despatches was introduced during World War One, and continued to be awarded for active service up to 10 August 1920. For the First World War, it was worn on the Victory Medal ribbon.
Bar to a Medal
Where a medal is won by an individual more than once, the second and subsequent awards are denoted by a Bar worn on the medal ribbon. Thus the phrase DFC and Bar (sometimes shortened to DFC*) denotes the award of the Distinguished Flying Cross twice to the same individual.