Most military medals fall into the category of campaign medal or gallantry medal.

Campaign medals are given to ALL soldiers who took part in any recognised campaign. They would not be given to those members of the Battalion who remained in the depot camp or were attached to other Regiments or seconded to other duties.

These are recorded in the soldiers personal service record and in specific campaign medal databases available on commercial sites such as Ancestry.

Gallantry medals were awarded to soldiers for specific feats of valour.

Gallantry medals have a hierarchy with the Victoria Cross having the most importance.

Awards of these medals will appear in the personal service records but they would also have been published in the London Gazette and repeated in the Times but they were also usually reported in local or regional newspapers.

The London gazette published the names, rank , regiment and citation for all gallantry medals awarded.

 Awards for Gallantry and Meritorious Conduct

DCM- Distinguished Conduct Medal was awarded from 1854  to other ranks of the army for exceptional Bravery. The award is second only to the Victoria Cross.

DSO - Distinguished Service Order was awarded from 1886 to officers of the rank of Major and above in the army for gallantry in action in the face of the enemy

GC - George Cross was awarded to any person whether military or civilian for an act of courage when not in the face of the enemy.

MC - Military Cross was awarded from 1914 to officers below the rank of Captain in the army for gallantry in action in the face of the enemy.

MID - Mentioned in Despatches was initially used only in relation to Offers whose named were included in despatches from the Commander after some military action. From the very late 1800's Other ranks were also mentioned in despatches. MID was not a formal award with a medal although it was often reported in the London Gazette.

MM - Military Medal was awarded from 1916 to warrant officers, non-commissioned officers and other ranks in the army for gallantry in action in the face of the enemy.

MSM - Meritorious Service Medal awarded from 1845 for services or gallantry but not in the face of the enemy.

VC - Victoria Cross was awarded from 1856 for outstanding courage in the face of the enemy. It is considered the highest honour.

Campaign Awards

Medals were often struck in relation to specific campaigns. There was no need to demonstrated meritorious conduct as these medals were issued to all members of the British Armed Forces who took part in the respective campaigns.

Over 40 campaign medals issued between 1800 and the start of World War One.

5 were issued during World War One

3 were issued between the World Wars

19 were issued during World War One

13 have been issued since the end of World War 2

World War One medals include

The 1914 Star for officers and men who served in France or Belgium between 5 August and 23rd November 1914.

The medal is often referred to as the Mons Star

The 1914-1915 Star for officers and men who served in any theatre of war between 5 August 1914 and 31 December 1915. Men who received the 1914 Star were not entitled to this medal.

British War Medal for officers or men who served or left for service in an active theatre of war overseas between 5 August 1914 and 11 November 1918.

The Victory Medal for officers and men who were mobilised for service and entered a theatre of war between 5 August 1914 and 11 November 1914. Men or Women awarded another of the three medals listed above were also eligible for this medal.

The Territorial Force War Medal for members of the British Territorial Force and the Territorial Nursing Services who served overseas in World War One.

Memorials plaques were not medals as such but were sent to the next of kin of all British and Empire Armed Forces who were killed during World War One.

Memorial plaque to Arthur John Rowland courtesy of Garry Orr 

MOD Medal Office

The MOD Medal Office provided help for Veterans and their families in relation to issue of medals  including posthumously.

Click here to visit their website