Thursday, January 22, 2015

WWI Medals - British War Medal and Victory Medal

There were five World War I campaign medals in all

The 1914 Star (also known as the Mons Star)  Nicknamed 'Pip'
The 1914-15 Star                               Nicknamed 'Pip'
The British War Medal 1914-1918     Nicknamed 'Squeak'
The Allied Victory Medal                    Nicknamed 'Wilfred'
The Territorial Force War Medal 1914-1919

('Pip', 'Squeak', and 'Wilfred' were popular cartoon characters in the Daily Mail.  (In the cartoons, by A B Payne, Pip was a dog, Squeak a penguin and Wilfred a young rabbit.)

The first two medals have been written about in this blog

The 1914 Star (also known as the Mons Star)
The 1914-15 Star

The following is about the British War Medal and the Victory Medal

The British War Medal

This is the most commonly issued WW I medal - to over 6,500,000 men (a more specific number given on one website is 6,610,000).  Approximately 4,700,000 medals were for distribution at home and another 600,000 for the Dominions and Colonies.  There was a hierarchy of medals as the silver version was issued to 6,400,000 people and the bronze version of 110,000 was issued to the Chinese, Maltese and Indian Labour Corps.

The medals were awarded to officers and men of the British and Imperial Forces who were in service between 5th August 1914 and 11th November 1918, who served either in a theatre of war or served overseas, but to receive it the person must have left British shores.

The medal was established on the 26th July 1919, but later those men who served in Russia and Serbia in 1919 and 1920 were included.

The front showed the head of George V, and the recipient's service number, rank, name and unit were on the rim.  On the reverse is an image of St George.  The ribbon has a central band of golden yellow with three stripes of white, black and blue on both sides. The soldier's regiment and number were inscribed round the rim.

The Victory Medal

The Victory Medal was issued by each of the victorious Allied countries and the British medal was designed by William McMillan (who, incidentally, died in 1977).  On the front was a Winged Victory in a classical pose and on the reverse was the inscription 'The Great War for Civilisation'.  The medal was in bronze.

The medal was only awarded to all those entered a theatre of war, (unlike the British War Medal, which was given to men who served overseas - which included Indian Service), so it was awarded to 300,000 fewer men, with a total awarded of 5,725,000.  The medal was also awarded to men who fought in Russia and Trans-Caspia

All three services were eligible, including women for their service in nursing homes and auxiliary forces.  It was also awarded to the British naval mission to Russia (1919-1920) and for mine clearance in the North Sea between 11 November 1918 and 30 November 1919.

Online Records for the British War Medal and the Victory Medal

By far the most important source are The National Archives Medal Index Cards (in series WO 372) at

There are over 5 million cards, most of which are for soldiers in the British Army.  The collection includes:

  • most British Army officers
  • Indian Army personnel
  • British Army Nurses
  • Royal Flying Corps personnel
  • Royal Naval Division personnel
  • some civilians

The Medal Index is also available Ancestry under the title 

'British Army WWI Medal Rolls Index Cards, 1914-1920' at

No comments:

Post a Comment