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Introduction

This article is about the Meritorious Service Medal (MSM), and in particular the versions of the MSM issued to the Royal Navy, Royal Marines, Army and Royal Air Force.

Royal Navy MSM

The Royal Navy MSM was introduced on 14 January 1919. The silver, 36 millimetre diameter medal has the profile of the sovereign on the obverse and the reverse side has a crown and wreath around the words "For Meritorious Service". The recipient's details are shown on the medal's rim. The medal's ribbon is crimson with white edges and central stripe.

Originally the RN MSM was intended to reward either specific acts of gallantry not in the presence of the enemy or for meritorious service performed by petty officers and ratings. The gallantry awards were superseded by the introduction of the British Empire Gallantry Medal in 1928. However, the gallantry award was resumed in 1977.

This post-1977 type is awarded to senior non-commissioned ratings and their equivalent in the Royal Marines, Women's Royal Naval Service (WRNS) and Queen Alexandria's Royal Naval Nursing Service (QARNNS) who have completed a minimum of 27 years service and have already been awarded the LSGC medal. However, a maximum of 59 medals are awarded annually and so entitlement is not automatic even if the criteria are met.

Royal Marines MSM

The Royal Marine MSM was introduced on 15 January 1849. The silver, 36 millimetre diameter medal has the profile of the sovereign on the obverse and the reverse side has a crown and wreath around the words "For Meritorious Service". The recipient's details are shown on the medal's rim. The medal's ribbon is dark blue with no edge or stripes.

This medal was originally intended to recognise either specific acts of gallantry or distinguished service. The gallantry aspects of this medal were replaced by the Naval Conspicuous Gallantry Medal (CGM). Sergeants who had a minimum of 24 years, the last 14 years as Sergeant, could be eligible for the medal if their character was deemed to have been sufficiently meritorious.

During the period 1916-19 Royal Marine NCOs could be awarded this medal immediately if they had performed especially meritorious service in difficult circumstances. The ribbon's colours for this immediate-award of the MSM were crimson with white stripes down both edge and the centre. The sovereign, King George V, was shown in the uniform of an Admiral or Field Marshal, signifying that the service was afloat or on land with a Naval Brigade.

Following a revised warrant in 1977, the Royal Marines MSM was only awarded  for long service and had an identical design as the Royal Navy MSM.

Army MSM

The Army MSM was introduced on 19 December 1845. silver, 36 millimetre diameter medal has the profile of the sovereign on the obverse and the reverse side has a crown and wreath around the words "For Meritorious Service". The recipient's details are shown on the medal's rim.

The ribbon has undergone 3 designs since the medal introduction.

Time Period Colours
1845 - 1916 Crimson only
1916 - 1917 Crimson with white edges
1917 onwards Crimson with white edges and centre stripe

The medal was introduced, with an annual annuity, to recognise meritorious service by Segeants and other senior NCOs. From 1956, recipients must have completed a minimum of 27 years service. The number of awards that could be made in a particular year was therefore limited by the amount of annuity. However, from 1951 the MSM could be awarded as required with the annuity paid when funds became available.

During the period 1916-19 Army NCOs could be awarded this medal immediately if they had performed especially meritorious service in difficult circumstances. The ribbon remained unchanged from the meritorious-type of MSM award, but the recipient's service number is shown together with his other details. For the meritorious-type of MSM, the service number is not shown with the recipient's other details.

RAF MSM

The Royal Air Force (RAF) MSM was introduced in June 1918. silver, 36 millimetre diameter medal has the profile of the sovereign on the obverse and the reverse side has a crown and wreath around the words "For Meritorious Service". The recipient's details are shown on the medal's rim. The medal's ribbon is crimson and light blue, with white stripes at both edges and down the centre.

The medal was intended to recognise service on the ground. It was replaced by the BEM in 1928, but reintroduced in December 1977 under the sane conditions as the Army MSM.

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