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M.B.E. (Member of the British Empire)
M.B.E. (Member of the British Empire)
The Most Excellent Order of the British Empire is an order of chivalry established on 4 June 1917 by George V of the United Kingdom. The Order comprises five classes in civil and military divisions. In decreasing order of seniority, these are:

* Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the British Empire (GBE) or Dame Grand Cross of the Order of the British Empire (GBE)
* Knight Commander of the Order of the British Empire (KBE) or Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire (DBE)
* Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE)
* Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE)
* Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE)

Only the highest two ranks admit an individual into knighthood or damehood automatically, an honour allowing the recipient to use the title "Sir" (male) or "Dame" (female) before his or her first name (though men can be knighted separately from the Orders of Chivalry). Honorary knighthoods, given to individuals who are not nationals of a realm where Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II is Head of State, permit usage of the honour as a post-nominal but not as a title before their name. These recipients are classified as honorary members of the Order they receive, and do not contribute to the numbers restricted to that Order as full members do.

There is also a related British Empire Medal, whose recipients are not members of the Order, but who are nonetheless affiliated with the Order. The British Empire Medal has not been used in the United Kingdom or its dependencies since 1993, but is still used by the Cook Islands and by some other Commonwealth nations. 
 
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O.B.E. (Officer of the British Empire)
O.B.E. (Officer of the British Empire)
The Order comprises five classes in civil and military divisions. In decreasing order of seniority, these are:

* Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the British Empire (GBE) or Dame Grand Cross of the Order of the British Empire (GBE)
* Knight Commander of the Order of the British Empire (KBE) or Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire (DBE)
* Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE)
* Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE)
* Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE)

Only the highest two ranks admit an individual into knighthood or damehood automatically, an honour allowing the recipient to use the title "Sir" (male) or "Dame" (female) before his or her first name (though men can be knighted separately from the Orders of Chivalry). Honorary knighthoods, given to individuals who are not nationals of a realm where Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II is Head of State, permit usage of the honour as a post-nominal but not as a title before their name. These recipients are classified as honorary members of the Order they receive, and do not contribute to the numbers restricted to that Order as full members do.

There is also a related British Empire Medal, whose recipients are not members of the Order, but who are nonetheless affiliated with the Order. The British Empire Medal has not been used in the United Kingdom or its dependencies since 1993, but is still used by the Cook Islands and by some other Commonwealth nations. 
 
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Queen's South Africa Medal
Queen's South Africa Medal
The Queen's South Africa Medal (QSA) was awarded to military personnel who served in the Boer War in South Africa between 11 October 1899 and 31 May 1902. Units from the British Army, Royal Navy, colonial forces who took part (Australia, Canada, New Zealand, India and South Africa), civilians employed in official capacity and war correspondents. The QSA (without bar) was also awarded to troops who guarded Boer prisoners of war at the POW camp on the island of St. Helena. Troops on the Mediterranean islands were awarded the Queen's Mediterranean Medal, and some personnel on troopships got the Transport Medal.

The QSA was the medal issued to all who served in South Africa up to the end of the war in May 1902. This included those such as the New Zealand 10th Contingent who arrived in Durban in May 1902, and did not fight. The requirements for the King's South Africa Medal meant that few were issued.

There are twenty-six different clasps added to the medal indicating each action and campaign of the Second Boer War. A "state" clasp was issued for service within that state when no "battle" clasp was issued to the recipient for a specific action within the same state. This meant a QSA medal could not carry both a "state" clasp and a "battle" clasp for actions within the same state. The "Cape Colony" clasp was not issued to recipients of the "Natal" clasp, nor "Rhodesia" with the "Relief of Mafeking". Recipients could not get both the "Defence" and "Relief" clasps for Mafeking, Kimberley or Ladysmith. 
 
4
The 1914 Star (Mons)
The 1914 Star (Mons)
The 1914 Star campaign medal - also commonly referred to as the Mons Star - was awarded by British authorities to those who served with either the British or Indian Expeditionary Force in France or Belgium between the outbreak of war in August 1914 and 22/23 November 1914.

Comprising a lacquered bronze star, the uppermost star took the form of the imperial crown. A pair of crossed swords (topped by an oak leaf) featured on the obverse of the medal. An inscription upon the star bore the legend Aug-Nov 1914. The reverse of the medal carried the recipient's number, rank, name and unit.

A Bar was instituted by King George V on 19 October 1919 in recognition of men who "actually served under fire of the enemy" between the specified dates. The Bar bore the inscription 5 Aug to 22 Nov 1914. There were 378,000 issued in total.

Holders of the 1914 Star were not entitled to the subsequent 1914-15 Star. 
 
5
The 1914-1915 Star
The 1914-1915 Star
The 1914-14 Star (not to be confused with the 1914 Star) comprised a medal awarded by British authorities to those who had given service in the fight against the Central Powers between the outbreak of war in August 1914 and the end of 1915, either on land or at sea.

Those who had already received the 1914 Star were not eligible for the 1914-15 Star.

The obverse of the medal - which was a bronze, four-pointed star (the uppermost point replaced by a crown), 50mm in height and 45mm in width - featured a scroll with the dates 1914-15 spread across (without the accompanying AUG and NOV featured on the 1914 Star), surrounded by a laurel wreath. The Royal Cypher GV was written across the bottom. The reverse of the medal was engraved with the recipient's number, rank and name.

No additional Bar was available for subsequent award.

Instituted in December 1918, some 2,366,000 1914-15 Stars were awarded in total. The medal was always awarded in conjunction with the British War Medal and the Victory Medal.

Included among the medal's recipients were nursing personnel who had served on the battlefront. 
 
6
The Africa Star
The Africa Star
A campaign medal of the British Commonwealth, awarded for service in WW2. It was awarded for a minimum of one day service in an operational area of North Africa between 10 June 1940 and 12 May 1943. The whole of the area between the Suez Canal and the Strait of Gibraltar is included, together with Malta, Abyssinia, Kenya, the Sudan, both Somalilands and Eritrea. The areas not bordering the Mediterranean only qualified for the Africa Star from 10 June 1940 to 27 November 1941. 
 
7
The Atlantic Star 1939-45
The Atlantic Star 1939-45
A campaign medal of the British Commonwealth, awarded for service in WW2. The star was awarded for six months service afloat, in the Atlantic or in Home Waters, within the period 3 September 1939 to 8 May 1945. Also awarded to aircrew who have taken part in operations against the enemy at sea within the qualifying areas for Naval personnel, subject to two months service in an operational unit. The 1939-1945 Star must have been earned before commencing qualifying service for the Atlantic Star. Merchant seaman also qualified for the medal. They were required to have served in the Atlantic home waters, North Russia Convoys or South Atlantic waters. 
 
8
The Baltic Medal (1854-1855)
The Baltic Medal (1854-1855)
The Baltic Medal was a campaign medal approved in 1856, for issue to officers and men of the Royal Navy, Royal Marines, and Royal Sappers and Miners who served in Baltic Sea operations against Russia in the Baltic theatre of the Crimean War. The medal primarily covered naval actions but it was also awarded to 100 men or the Royal Sappers and Miners for their work in the demolition of Russian fortifications at Bomarsund and Sveaborg. 
 
9
The British War Medal 1914-1920
The British War Medal 1914-1920
The British War Medal, instituted on 29 July 1919, was awarded to men who had provided service during and immediately after the First World War.

Initially intended to cover the period 1914-18 it was subsequently extended to those who had given additional service during 1919-20, typically in mine clearance and participation in operations in Russia, the Baltic, Siberia and the Black and Caspian Seas.

Royal Navy servicemen were required to have served for a period of at least 28 days before they were deemed eligible for the British War Medal (or to have lost their lives before then). Men who had enlisted with the O.M.F.C. but who had not seen action were not awarded the medal.

The 36mm medal was circular and made of silver. A bust of King George V featured on the obverse; St George on horseback was on the reverse of the medal, riding over the Prussian shield and skull and crossbones. The dates 1914 and 1918 also featured on the medal's reverse.

Although no additional Bar was made available, there were initial plans to permit such additional awards. Once it became clear however that both the army and navy intended to recommend sizeable numbers the idea was dropped.

In total some 5,670,170 BWMs were awarded, including 110,000 bronze medals awarded to Chinese, Indian and Maltese personnel who had served in labour battalions. Of the wider total approximately 600,000 BWMs were awarded to servicemen from Britain's colonies and dominions. 
 
10
The Defence Medal (WW2)
The Defence Medal (WW2)
The Defence Medal was awarded for service in the forces in non-operational areas subjected to air attack or closey threatened for at least three years service in Great Britain until 8th May 1945 or one year in territories overseas until 2 September 1945. In the case of mine and bomb disposal units the time qualification was three months and Canadians serving for one year in Newfoundland were eligible and persons serving for six months in Hong Kong were also eligible. Service in West Africa, Palestine and India, other than operational air crew, qualified also for this award. Those awarded the George Cross or the George Medal for civil defence received this award and the Home Guard also qualified for this award.

Owing to the terms of reference, it was not unusual to find a person with this award who had never heard a shot fired, but a person with only the Defence Medal, for example, whilst serving in the rescue services in London, also earned this award. Only the man who wears this award knows why it was earned.

The award has the coinage head of King George VI on the obverse. The reverse shows the Royal Crown resting above a small oak tree and flanked by two heraldic lions. The dates 1939 and 1945 appear in the top left and right respectively on the reverse, whilst beneath are the words THE DEFENCE MEDAL. The Medal is made of a Cupro-Nickel combination. The Canadian versions however, were made of ".800 fine" silver. 
 
11
The Distinguished Conduct Medal
The Distinguished Conduct Medal
The Distinguished Conduct Medal (DCM) was instituted in 1854 and is the oldest British award for gallantry. It was awarded to non commissioned officers and other ranks of the Army for distinguished conduct in the field.

In 1993, the DCM was replaced in the UK by the Conspicuous Gallantry Cross. Bars were awarded for subsequent distinguished acts. 
 
12
The Distinguished Flying Cross
The Distinguished Flying Cross
The Distinguished Flying Cross is a military decoration awarded to personnel of the United Kingdom's Royal Air Force and other services, and formerly to officers of other Commonwealth countries, for "an act or acts of valour, courage or devotion to duty whilst flying in active operations against the enemy".

The award was established on 3 June 1918, shortly after the formation of the RAF. It was originally awarded to air force commissioned officers and to Warrant Officers. During the Second World War it was also awarded to Royal Artillery officers from the British Army serving on attachment to the RAF as pilots-cum-artillery directors. Since the Second World War, the award has been open to army and naval aviation officers, and since 1993 to other ranks as well; the Distinguished Flying Medal, previously awarded to other ranks, has been discontinued. Recipients of the Distinguished Flying Cross are entitled to use the post-nominal letters "DFC". A bar is added to the ribbon for holders of the DFC who received a second award.

During the Great War, a total of approximately 1,100 DFCs were awarded, with 70 first bars and 3 second bars. During the Second World War, 20,354 DFCs were awarded (the most of any award), with approximately 1,550 first bars and 45 second bars. Honorary awards were made on 964 occasions to aircrew from other non-commonwealth countries. 
 
13
The Distinguished Service Cross
The Distinguished Service Cross
The Distinguished Service Cross (DSC) is a third level military decoration awarded to officers, and (since 1993) other ranks, of the British Armed Forces, Royal Fleet Auxiliary and British Merchant Navy and formerly also to officers of other Commonwealth countries.

The DSC, which may be awarded posthumously, is granted in recognition of "... gallantry during active operations against the enemy at sea."

The award was originally created in 1901 as the Conspicuous Service Cross, for award to warrant and junior officers ineligible for the DSO. It was renamed the Distinguished Service Cross in October 1914, eligibility being extended to all naval officers (commissioned and warrant) below the rank of Lieutenant Commander. In 1931, the award was made available to members of the Merchant Navy and in 1940 eligibility was further extended to non-naval personnel (British Army and Royal Air Force) serving aboard a British vessel. Since the 1993 review of the honours system, as part of the drive to remove distinctions of rank in awards for bravery, the Distinguished Service Medal, formerly the third level decoration for ratings, has been discontinued. The DSC now serves as the third level award for gallantry at sea for all ranks.

Since 1916, bars have been awarded to the DSC in recognition of the performance of further acts of gallantry meriting the award. Recipients are entitled to the postnominal letters DSC. 
 
14
The France and Germany Star (WW2)
The France and Germany Star (WW2)
The France and Germany Star was awarded for operational services in France, Belgium, the Netherlands and Germany between June 6th, 1944 (D-Day) and the May 8th, 1945, (the German surrender). Operational service in the Royal and Merchant Navies in the English Channel, North Sea and Bay of Biscay in connection with the campaign in Northern Europe also qualified. Naval service off the coast of the South of France did not qualify for this award, but qualified for the Italy Star.

RAF aircrews having taken part in an operational sortie over Europe between June 6th, 1944 and May 8th, 1945 as well as aircrews who flew operations over Europe from Mediterranean bases did not qualify for this award either but for the Italy Star.

Personnel qualifying for the France and Germany Star and the Atlantic Star, only received the first award with a suitably inscribed bar for the second attached to the ribbon. 
 
15
The George Cross
The George Cross
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." 
 
16
The Indian Mutiny Medal (with Dehli Clasp)
The Indian Mutiny Medal (with Dehli Clasp)
The Indian Mutiny Medal was a campaign medal approved in 1858, for issue to officers and men of British and Indian units who served in operations in suppression of the Indian Mutiny.

The medal was initially sanctioned for award to those troops who had been engaged in action against the mutineers. However in 1868 the award was extended to all those who had borne arms or who had been under fire, including such people as members of the Indian judiciary and the Indian civil service, who were caught up in the fighting. Some 290,000 medals were awarded.

The obverse of the medal depicts the head of a young Queen Victoria and bears the inscription Victoria Regina. The reverse shows a helmeted Britannia holding a wreath in her right hand and a union shield on her left arm. She is standing in front of a lion. The words "India 1857-1858" are inscribed on the reverse of the medal. The ribbon is white with two scarlet stripes.

Five clasps were authorised, though the maximum awarded to any one man was four. The medal was issued without a clasp to those who served but were not eligible for a clasp. The vast majority of these awards were made to those who became entitled to the medal as a result of the 1868 extensions of eligibility. 
 
17
The Italy Star
The Italy Star
A campaign medal of the British Commonwealth, awarded for service in the WW2. It was awarded for operational service (on land) in Italy, Greece, Yugoslavia, Pantelleria, the Aegean area and Dodecanese Islands, and Elba at any time between 11 June 1943 and 8 May 1945. Other areas to qualify for the award are: Sicily - between 11 June 1943 - 17 August 1943, Sardinia - between 11 June 1943 - 19 September 1943 and Corsica - between 11 June 1943 - 4 October 1943. Royal and Merchant Navy service in the Mediterranean and the Aegean Sea and operations in and around the Dodecanese Islands, Corsica, Greece, Sardinia and Yugoslavia after 11 June 1943 would qualify. The 6 months service for the 1939-45 had to be earned, before service could count towards the Italy Star. 
 
18
The King's / Queen's Police Medal
The King's / Queen's Police Medal
In 1909, His Majesty King Edward VII, recognised that police officers and firemen faced great danger and displayed exceptional gallantry in the course of their duties, similar to the Military. He therefore instituted "The King's Police Medal", which was approved on July 7th, 1909 and published in the London Gazette on July 9th, 1909 to reward "courage and devotion to duty in the Police & Fire Services of the UK and Overseas Dominions."
Recognising the bravery of the firemen during the Blitz, the medal was re-titled "The King's Police and Fire Service Medal" in 1940. Now the abbreviation became 'KPFSM'. From 1950, the gallantry medals were only awarded posthumously and all awards were discontinued in 1954, when separate awards were established.  
 
19
The Mercantile Marine War Medal (WW1)
The Mercantile Marine War Medal (WW1)
The medal was established in 1919.

The Board of Trade awarded this campaign medal, the Mercantile Marine War Medal, to people who had served in the Merchant Navy and who had made a voyage through a war zone or danger zone during the 1914-1918 war.

It was a circular bronze medal. It was 1.42 inches in diameter. On the obverse (front) there was an effigy of King George V facing to the left with the words GEORGIVS V BRITT: OMN: REX ET IND: IMP:.

The reverse of the medal has a laurel wreath around the rim with an image of a merchant ship on a stormy sea with an enemy submarine and an old sailing ship to the right of the merchant ship. The inscription on this side of the medal is FOR WAR SERVICE/MERCANTILE MARINE 1914-1918.
Reverse of the Mercantile Marine War Medal.

The ribbon (1.25 inches wide) is green on the left and red on the right with a thin white line in the centre between the two. The green and red colours of the ribbon represent the starboard and port running lights of a ship with the centre white colour being representative of the masthead steaming light.

133,135 Mercantile Marine War Medals were awarded. 
 
20
The Military Cross
The Military Cross
Awarded to all ranks of the RN, RM, Army, and RAF in recognition of exemplary gallantry during active operations against the enemy on land.

The award was created in 1914 for commissioned officers of the substantive rank of Captain or below and for Warrant Officers. In 1931 the award was extended to Majors and also to members of the Royal Air Force for actions on the ground.

Since the 1993 review of the honours system, as part of the drive to remove distinctions of rank in awards for bravery, the Military Medal, formerly the third-level decoration for other ranks, has been discontinued. The MC now serves as the third-level award for gallantry on land for all ranks of the British Armed Forces.

Bars are awarded to the MC in recognition of the performance of further acts of gallantry meriting the award. Recipients are entitled to the postnominal letters MC. 
 
21
The Silver War Badge (WW1)
The Silver War Badge (WW1)
The Silver War Badge was issued in the United Kingdom to service personnel who had been honourably discharged due to wounds or sickness during World War I. The badge, sometimes known as the Discharge Badge, Wound Badge or Services Rendered Badge, was first issued in September 1916, along with an official certificate of entitlement.

The sterling silver lapel badge was intended to be worn in civilian clothes. It had been the practice of some women to present white feathers to apparently able-bodied young men who were not wearing the King's uniform. The badge was to be worn on the right breast while in civilian dress, it was forbidden to wear on a military uniform.

The badge bears the royal cipher of GRI (for Georgius Rex Imperator; George, King and Emperor) and around the rim "For King and Empire; Services Rendered". Each badge was uniquely numbered on the reverse. The War Office made it known that they would not replace Silver War Badges if they went missing, however if one was handed into a police station then it would be returned to the War Office. If the original recipient could be traced at his or her discharge address then the badge would be returned.

A very similar award, known as the King's Badge, was issued in World War II. Although each was accompanied by a certificate, issues of this latter award were not numbered. 
 
22
The Victoria Cross
The Victoria Cross
The Victoria Cross was - and remains to the present day - the highest British military award for gallantry, awarded for "most conspicuous bravery, a daring or pre-eminent act of valour, self sacrifice or extreme devotion to duty in the presence of the enemy".

Established during Queen Victoria's reign in February 1856 some 633 Victoria Crosses (known as the V.C.) were awarded during the First World War. Two of these comprised Bars - that is, an award of a second Victoria Cross to a current holder: to Arthur Martin-Leake in 1914 and Noel Chavasse in 1917 respectively. Of these Chavasse earned both V.C.s during the First World War, although the second was posthumously awarded.

Of the 633 V.C.s awarded during the First World War 187 were issued posthumously to men killed during their act of heroism. Prior to the outbreak of war in 1914 522 V.C.s had been awarded; by contrast just 182 were issued during the Second World War.

There are two instances of the Victoria Cross being awarded to father and son (although never during the same conflict). No woman has ever been awarded the V.C.

In 1921 the Victoria Cross was awarded to America's Unknown Warrior, laid on the tomb in Arlington Cemetery by Admiral Sir David Beatty on Armistice Day 1921.

A recommendation for the V.C. was issued at regimental level and had to be backed by three separate witnesses. From there the recommendation was passed up the military hierarchy until it reached first the Secretary of State for War and then King George V (who personally presented the award). A full 12 V.C.s were awarded for outstanding acts of bravery rendered during the Allied landings at Gallipoli on 25 April 1915.

The obverse of the medal featured the royal crown surmounted by a lion with a ribbon underneath bearing the legend 'For Valour'. The reverse of the medal was engraved with the name of the recipient, together with the name of his regiment and the date of the action for which the award was presented.

The award of a Victoria Cross - each of which was produced by Hancocks and Co of London - was published in the London Gazette, accompanied by the relevant citation. 
 
23
The Victory Medal 1914-1918
The Victory Medal 1914-1918
The Inter-Allied Victory Medal (generally referred to simply as the Victory Medal or as the Allied War Medal) was instituted following an agreement by fourteen Allied powers in March 1919.

Intended as a means of providing for a single medal across each of the Allies (removing the need for an exchange of Allied medals, although individual nations issued medals with slight variations), the medal was made from yellow bronze and was 36mm in diameter. The ribbon was officially described as "two rainbows with red in the centre".

The obverse of the medal depicted the winged figure of Victory with her left arm extended while her right held a palm branch. The reverse of the medal contained the legend The Great / War For / Civilization / 1914-1919 across four lines, surrounded by a wreath.

The medal was awarded to all those who had served in the armed forces, as well as to civilians contracted to the armed services, and to those who served in military hospitals on the various battlefronts during wartime. Members of the British Naval Mission to Russia during 1919-20 and men involved in North Sea mine clearance operations were similarly eligible for the medal.

In Britain (and among her colonies and dominions) the Victory Medal was always awarded in concert with another medal, usually the 1914 Star or 1914-15 Star or British War Medal.

No additional Bar was available to accompany the Victory Medal, although men Mentioned-in-Despatches wore an oak-leaf emblem along with the medal. 
 
24
The War Medal 1939-45
The War Medal 1939-45
The War Medal 1939–1945 was a British decoration awarded to those who had served in the Armed Forces or Merchant Navy full-time for at least 28 days between 3 September 1939 and 2 September 1945. In the Merchant Navy, the 28 days must have been served at sea. It is sometimes described as the "Victory Medal" for WW2, although that is not its correct name