Distinguished Service Order

Awarded for highly successful command and leadership during active operations

Distinguished Service Order

Distinguished Service Order


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.


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.


Crimson flanked by narrow dark blue stripes at the edges.


The Distinguished Service Order (DSO) 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 officers ranks.

Key dates

1886 - Instituted

1993 - Award criteria revised

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