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Military Honours and Awards

The system for the award of Decorations and other Honours to Service personnel underwent a major revision in 1993, when the practice of having, in some categories of award, different medals for Officers and Other Ranks was discontinued.  Thus for example the Military Medal is no longer awarded to Other Ranks, who instead are now eligible for the Military Cross which had previously been reserved for Officers and Warrant Officers.

Most of the awards, save only for membership of Orders, can be given posthumously.

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.  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).

Gallantry Awards

Victoria Cross (VC) and George Cross (GC)

The Victoria Cross ranks with the George Cross as the nation's highest award for gallantry.

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."

 The Victoria Cross
The Victoria Cross
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 The George Cross
The George Cross
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The George Cross ranks with the Victoria Cross as the nation's highest award for gallantry, and was instituted in 1940 to recognise actions of supreme gallantry in circumstances for which the Victoria Cross was not appropriate.  Thus, it may be awarded to civilians, as well as members of the Armed Forces for acts of gallantry not in the presence of the enemy, including, for example, military explosive ordnance disposal personnel.  It was also famously awarded to the Island of Malta for its collective gallantry during the Second World War

It is awarded "for acts of the greatest heroism or of the most conspicuous courage in circumstances of extreme danger."

 

Distinguished Service Order (DSO), Conspicuous Gallantry Cross (CGC) and George Medal (GM)

The Distinguished Service Order was instituted in 1886, and recognises outstanding leadership during active operations.  During its history, the DSO has also been used on occasion to recognise individual acts of gallantry, but since 1993 the Conspicuous Gallantry Cross has been awarded in such circumstances.

The George Medal, like the George Cross, was instituted in 1940 and can be awarded both to civilians and to military personnel for acts of bravery not in the face of the enemy.

The DSO is awarded "for distinguished services during active operations against the enemy."

The CGC is awarded "in recognition of an act or acts of conspicuous gallantry during active operations against the enemy."

The GM is awarded "for acts of great bravery."

 
The Distinguished
Service Order
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The Conspicuous
Gallantry Cross
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The George Medal
(Reverse side shown)
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Distinguished Service Cross (DSC), Military Cross (MC) and Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC)

The Distinguished Service Cross, Military Cross and Distinguished Flying Cross recognise acts of bravery during combat operations respectively at sea, on land and in the air.

The DSC was instituted in 1901, the MC in 1914, and the DFC in 1918.

They are awarded "for gallantry during active operations against the enemy."


The Distinguished
Service Cross
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The Military Cross

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The Distinguished
Flying Cross
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Air Force Cross (AFC) and Queen's Gallantry Medal (QGM)

The Air Force Cross was instituted in 1918.

It is awarded "for gallantry while flying but not on active operations against the enemy."

 
The Air Force Cross

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The Queen's Gallantry Medal
(Reverse side shown)
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The Queen's Gallantry Medal can be awarded to civilians or military personnel.  It was instituted in 1974.

It is awarded "for exemplary acts of bravery."

 

Mention in Despatches (MiD), Queen's Commendation for Bravery (QCB), and Queen's Commendation for Bravery in the Air (QCBA)

The Mention in Despatches is the oldest form of recognition of gallantry within the UK Armed Forces. Since 1993, the Mention in Despatches has been reserved for gallantry during active operations.

The Queen's Commendation for Bravery and Queen's Commendation for Bravery in the Air are similarly awarded to mark specific acts of gallantry.


The Queen's
Commendation for Bravery


The Mention in Despatches

The Queen's Commendation
for Bravery in the Air

 

Awards for Meritorious Service

Order of the Bath
(Military Division)

The Most Honourable Order of the Bath (Military Division) comprises three classes: the Knight Grand Cross (GCB), the Knight Commander (KCB), and the Companion (CB).  The Order of the Bath was instituted in 1725 by King George I.

More information on the Order can be found on the Buckingham Palace website.


The KCB
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Order of the British Empire
(Military Division)

The Most Excellent Order of the British Empire was instituted in 1917. As with the Civil Division, the Military Division of the Order comprises five classes: Knights and Dames Grand Cross (GBE), Knights and Dames Commanders (KBE and DBE), Commanders (CBE), Officers (OBE) and Members (MBE).

More information on the Order can be found on the Buckingham Palace website.


The CBE
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The OBE
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The MBE
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Royal Red Cross 1st Class (RRC) and Royal Red Cross 2nd Class (ARRC)

The Royal Red Cross is only awarded to members of the Nursing Services. It consists of two classes.  Recipients of the Royal Red Cross 1st Class are known as Members, while recipients of the 2nd Class are known as Associates.

The RRC is awarded "for exceptional devotion and competency in the performance of actual nursing duties."

The ARRC is awarded "for special devotion and competency in the performance of actual nursing duties."


The ARRC
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Queen's Commendation for Valuable Service

The Queen's Commendation for Valuable Service recognises meritorious service during, or in support of, operations.

Last Updated: 30 Oct 03