British Military & Criminal History
1900 to 1999.
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This page deals with the campaign medals that UK personnel were awarded for service during the First World War 1914-18. They commemorate some of the bloodiest battle in British military history.
For a comparison of the magnitude of casualties during both world wars then please visit my remembrance page. The difference between casualty figures for the two world war are truly staggering. For example, the UK (not counting Commonwealth countries) had more service personnel with no known grave in World War One, than their total casualties for World War Two (known and missing)!
Click here to read about gallantry medals for this period.
Click here to read about campaign medals issued for the Second World War.
The service personnel entitlement records for these medals are available for public inspection at the National Archives in London. Visit their web site for more information about the location of the PRO, obtaining a Reader's Ticket and lots of other extremely useful information.
Allied Subjects' Medal
The Allied Subjects' Medal was a bravery medal issued to those people, who were not British citizens and had assisted the Allied cause, by for example, assisting POWs to escape and avoid detection. Due to a disagreement between the British War and Foreign Offices, the medal was not introduced until November 1920, with additional awards made in 1921 and 1922.
The medal itself was either silver or bronze, and 33 millimetres in diameter. On the obverse side was the profile of King George V. The reverse side had a female Humanity offering a cup to a British soldier resting on the ground, against a profile of ruined buildings.
All the medals were issued unnamed and almost half of the total issued went to women.
The 1914 Star was instituted in April 1917, to be awarded to those who served in France or Belgium on the strength of a unit, or service in either of those two countries between 5 August 1914 and midnight on 22/23 November 1914. The medal was issued named, with the recipient's details impressed on the star's reverse. All recipient's of this medal also received the British War Medal and Victory Medal.
In October 1919, King George V sanctioned the award of a bar to this medal. The bar was awarded to holders of this medal who had been under fire in either France or Belgium during the period covered by the above dates.
Royal Navy personnel were awarded the 1914-15 Star, except for the a small number who served at Antwerp prior to midnight on 22/23 November 1914.
A total of 378,000 1914 Stars were awarded, but the number of these medals issued with the bar is not known.
The 1914-15 Star was instituted in 1918 and was awarded to those who saw service between 5 August 1914 and 31 December 1915. Those personnel eligible for the 1914 Star were not eligible for this medal. The medal was issued named, with the recipient's details impressed on the star's reverse. All recipient's of this medal also received the British War Medal and Victory Medal.
Approximately 2,366,000 1914-15 Star were issued. Of this total, 283,500 to the Royal Navy and 71,500 to Canadian personnel.
British War Medal 1914-20
This medal commemorates some of the bloodiest battles that have ever been fought by British & Commonwealth troops. The medal was instituted by King George V in 1919 to mark the end of the First World War and record the service given. Although the First World War ended in 1918, the qualification period was extended to cover post-war mine clearance and service in Russia during 1919-20.
A total of approximately 6,500,000 silver medals were issued. A total of approximately 110,000 bronze versions of this medal were issued to Chinese, Maltese, Indian and other native Labour Corps and also to other native personnel who were mobilised for war service and received pay at military rates.
This medal was issued to Royal Navy personnel who performed 28 days mobilised service, or lost their lives in active operations before completing that period, between 5 August 1914 and 11 November 1918.
This medal was issued to Army personnel who either entered a theatre of war on duty or who left their place of residence and rendered approved service overseas, other than the waters dividing the different parts of the UK, between 4 August 1914 and 11 November 1918.
Royal Air Force
This medal was issued to members of the Royal Air Force (after 1 April 1918), Royal Flying Corps and Royal Naval Air Service (both prior to 1 April 1918). The recipient had to be actively engaged in in the air against the enemy whilst on the strength of an operational unit in the UK, employed in flying new aircraft to France or formed part of the complement of an aircraft-carrying ship.
Mercantile Marine War Medal 1914-18
This bronze medal was instituted by the UK Board of Trade and was awarded to members of the Mercantile Marine (forerunner of the Merchant Navy) who served on one or more voyages through a danger zone during the period 4 August 1914 and 11 November 1918.
A total of 133,135 medals were issued, with approximately 100 being awarded to Canadian personnel.
Victory Medal 1914-19
This medal was instituted in 1919 to commemorate the victory of the Allies over the Central Powers. It was resolved that each of the Allies should issue a Victory Medal to their own nationals. Al the issues would have the common obverse of a picture of Victory.
Approximately 5,725,000 British Victory medals were issued.
Those personnel who gained a MID between 4 August 1914 and 10 August 1920 worn the oak leaf on the medal's ribbon. This is illustrated in the picture above.
The medal was issued to Navy personnel who were mobilised and gave service at sea between 4 August 1914 and 11 November 1918 or who were on the establishment of an unit within an operational theatre.
The medal was issued to Army personnel who actually served on the establishment of an unit within a theatre of war within the period 4 August 1914 to 11 November 1918.
Royal Air Force
This medal was issued to members of the Royal Air Force (after 1 April 1918), Royal Flying Corps and Royal Naval Air Service (both prior to 1 April 1918). The recipient had to be serving with an unit within a theatre of war within the date period specified, serving with an operational unit in the British Isles or overseas and who were actively engaged in the air against the enemy, who flew new planes from Britain to France or formed part of the compliment of an aircraft-carrying ship.
The 120 millimetre, bronze Memorial Plaque was awarded to the next-of-kin of those who lost their lives whilst on active service during World War One. The inscription around the edge reads "He (or she) died for freedom and Honour". When commemorating the death of a lady (for example a nurse), the "He" is replaced by "She". Over 1 million "He" plaques were issued compared to approximately 600 "She" plaques.
The Memorial Plaque was accompanied by a memorial scroll. At the top of the scroll was the emblem of King George V, followed by this text:
He whom this scroll commemorates was numbered among the those who at the call of King and Country, left all that was dear to them, endured hardness, faced danger, and finally passed out of the sight of men by the path of duty and self-sacrifice, giving up their own lives that others might live in freedom. Let those who come after see to it that his name be not forgotten".
The details of the deceased service person are then shown in red ink.