|War Medal 1939-1945|
|Awarded by the Monarch of the United kingdom and the Dominions of the British Commonwealth, and Emperor of India|
|Type||Military campaign medal|
|Eligibility||Full-time personnel of all ranks|
|Awarded for||28 days of service|
|Campaign(s)||Second World War 1939–45|
|Established||16 August 1945|
|Order of wear|
|Next (higher)||Defence Medal|
|Next (lower)||Korea Medal|
The War Medal 1939–1945 is a campaign medal which was instituted by the United Kingdom on 16 August 1945, for award to subjects of the British Commonwealth who had served full-time in the Armed Forces or the Merchant Navy for at least 28 days between 3 September 1939 and 2 September 1945.
The duration of the Second World War in Europe was from 3 September 1939 to 8 May 1945, while in the Pacific Theatre it continued until 2 September 1945. The War Medal 1939–1945 was instituted by the United Kingdom on 16 August 1945 and was awarded to all full-time personnel of the armed forces and Merchant Navy for serving for 28 days, irrespective of where they were serving, between 3 September 1939 and 2 September 1945 inclusive, the full duration of the Second World War. In the Merchant Navy, the 28 days had to have been served anywhere at sea.
The qualification requirement for the award of the War Medal 1939–1945 to full-time military personnel was 28 days of service, wherever rendered. Qualifying service in the Merchant Navy was 28 days of service anywhere at sea during the qualifying period. Foreign subjects commissioned or enlisted into British Forces, who did not receive a similar award to the War Medal 1939–1945 from their own Governments, were also eligible to qualify for the award of this medal.
Full-time paid members of the specially approved colonial and other military forces, militarised police or militarised civilian bodies which were eligible to qualify for campaign stars, were also eligible to qualify by 28 days of service during the qualifying period as laid down for the force concerned, as follows:
The qualification for the specially approved categories of uniformed civilians who were eligible to qualify for Campaign Stars was 28 days of service in the area of an army operational command overseas, or overseas from or outside the country of residence in non-operational areas subjected to enemy air attack or closely threatened. Service in the United Kingdom or in the territory of residence, other than in an army operational area, was not a qualification for these categories.
The medal was awarded to personnel whose required service period was terminated prematurely by death, disability due to service or capture as a prisoner-of-war and whose service qualified them for one of the Second World War Campaign Stars. Personnel who had received one of the Stars for service of less than 28 days were also awarded the War Medal 1939–1945.
The War Medal 1939–1945 is a disk, 36 millimetres (1.42 inches) in diameter. The non-swivelling straight bar suspender is attached to the medal with a single-toe claw mount and a pin through the upper edge of the medal. The British issue medals were struck in cupro-nickel, while those awarded in Canada (about 700,000) were struck in silver. The medal is sometimes incorrectly referred to as the "Victory Medal" for the Second World War.
The obverse shows the crowned effigy of King George VI, facing left and signed "PM", the initials of designer Percy Metcalfe, below the truncated neck of the effigy. Around the perimeter is the legend "GEORGIVS VI D:G:BR:OMN:REX ET INDIAE IMP:".
The reverse shows a lion standing wanton on the body of a double-headed dragon. The dragon's heads are those of an eagle and a dragon, to signify the principal occidental and oriental enemies during the Second World War. At the top, just to the right of centre are the years "1939" and "1945" in two lines. The initials "ECRP" of designer Edward Carter Preston are near the rim at the nine o'clock position. Preston also designed the bronze memorial plaque which was presented to the next-of-kin of British servicemen and women who fell during the First World War.
The British Honours Committee decided that Second World War campaign medals awarded to British forces would be issued unnamed,a practice followed by all but three British Commonwealth countries. The recipient's name was impressed on the rim of the medal awarded to Indians, South Africans and, after a campaign led by veteran organisations, by Australia. In addition, those awarded to personnel of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police who served only on the RCMPV St. Roch and of the Canadian Merchant Marine were named. In the case of Indians, the recipient's force number, rank, initials, surname and service arm or corps, and in the case of South Africans, the force number, initials and surname, were impressed on the rim in block capitals.
The ribbon is 32 millimetres wide, with a 6½ millimetres wide red band, a 6½ millimetres wide blue band and a 2 millimetres wide white band, repeated in reverse order and separated by a 2 millimetres wide red band. The colours are those of the British Union Jack.
The ribbons for the War Medal as well as those of the Second World War Campaign Stars, with the exception of the Arctic Star, were devised by King George VI.
A bronze oak leaf emblem is worn on the ribbon to signify a mention in dispatches, a King's Commendation for Brave Conduct, or a King's Commendation for Valuable Service in the Air.
The order of wear of the Second World War campaign stars was determined by their respective campaign start dates and by the campaign's duration. This is the order worn, even when a recipient qualified for them in a different order. The Defence Medal and War Medal are worn after the stars.
The Canadian Volunteer Service Medal and Newfoundland Volunteer War Service Medal was worn after the Defence Medal and before the War Medal, with the other Commonwealth war medals worn after the War Medal.
On 6 April 1952 the Union of South Africa instituted its own range of military decorations and medals. These new awards were worn before all earlier British decorations and medals awarded to South Africans, with the exception of the Victoria Cross, which still took precedence before all other awards. Of the British campaign medals applicable to South Africans, the War Medal 1939–1945 takes precedence as shown.
The Distinguished Conduct Medal, post-nominal letters DCM, was established in 1854 by Queen Victoria as a decoration for gallantry in the field by other ranks of the British Army. It is the oldest British award for gallantry and was a second level military decoration, ranking below the Victoria Cross, until its discontinuation in 1993 when it was replaced by the Conspicuous Gallantry Cross. The medal was also awarded to non-commissioned military personnel of other Commonwealth Dominions and Colonies.
The Pacific Star is a military campaign medal instituted by the United Kingdom in May 1945 for award to British and Commonwealth forces who served in the Pacific Campaign from 1941 to 1945, during the Second World War.
The Africa Star is a military campaign medal, instituted by the United Kingdom on 8 July 1943 for award to British and Commonwealth forces who served in North Africa between 10 June 1940 and 12 May 1943 during the Second World War.
The Africa Service Medal is a South African campaign medal for service during the Second World War, awarded to members of the Union Defence Forces, the South African Police and the South African Railways Police. The medal was originally intended for service in Africa, but it was later extended to cover service anywhere in the world.
The Atlantic Star is a military campaign medal, instituted by the United Kingdom in May 1945 for award to British Commonwealth forces who took part in the Battle of the Atlantic, the longest continuous campaign of the Second World War.
The 1939–1945 Star is a military campaign medal instituted by the United Kingdom on 8 July 1943 for award to British and Commonwealth forces for service in the Second World War. Two clasps were instituted to be worn on the medal ribbon, Battle of Britain and Bomber Command.
The Air Crew Europe Star is a military campaign medal, instituted by the United Kingdom in May 1945 for award to British and Commonwealth air crews who participated in operational flights over Europe from bases in the United Kingdom during the Second World War.
The Burma Star is a military campaign medal, instituted by the United Kingdom in May 1945 for award to British and Commonwealth forces who served in the Burma Campaign from 1941 to 1945, during the Second World War.
The Italy Star is a military campaign medal, instituted by the United Kingdom in May 1945 for award to British Commonwealth forces who served in the Italian Campaign from 1943 to 1945, during the Second World War.
The France and Germany Star is a military campaign medal, instituted by the United Kingdom in May 1945 for award to British Commonwealth forces who served in France, Belgium, Luxembourg, the Netherlands or Germany and adjacent sea areas between 6 June 1944 and 8 May 1945, during the Second World War.
The 1914–15 Star is a campaign medal of the British Empire which was awarded to officers and men of British and Imperial forces who served in any theatre of the First World War against the Central European Powers during 1914 and 1915. The medal was never awarded singly and recipients also received the British War Medal and Victory Medal.
The British War Medal is a campaign medal of the United Kingdom which was awarded to officers and men of British and Imperial forces for service in the First World War. Two versions of the medal were produced. About 6.5 million were struck in silver and 110,000 in bronze, the latter awarded to, among others, the Chinese, Maltese and Indian Labour Corps.
The Defence Medal is a campaign medal instituted by the United Kingdom in May 1945, to be awarded to subjects of the British Commonwealth for both non-operational military and certain types of civilian war service during the Second World War.
The Air Efficiency Award, post-nominal letters AE for officers, was instituted in 1942. It could be awarded after ten years of meritorious service to part-time officers, airmen and airwomen in the Auxiliary and Volunteer Air Forces of the United Kingdom and the Territorial Air Forces and Air Force Reserves of the Dominions, the Indian Empire, Burma, the Colonies and Protectorates.
The Efficiency Medal was instituted in 1930 for award to part-time warrant officers, non-commissioned officers and men after twelve years of efficient service on the active list of the Citizen Force of the Union of South Africa. At the same time, a clasp was instituted for award to holders of the medal upon completion of further periods of six years of efficient service. The medal superseded the Colonial Auxiliary Forces Long Service Medal.
The Southern Rhodesia Service Medal 1939–1945 was a campaign medal of the British Commonwealth. It was awarded to members of the Southern Rhodesia Defence Forces for home service during World War II.
The Arctic Star is a military campaign medal instituted by the United Kingdom on 19 December 2012 for award to British Commonwealth forces who served on the Arctic Convoys north of the Arctic Circle, during the Second World War.
The Unitas Medal was instituted by the President of the Republic of South Africa on 4 November 1994. It was awarded to all ranks who were on the active strength of all seven constituent military forces from 27 April 1994 to 10 May 1994, to commemorate their amalgamation into the South African National Defence Force. It was also awarded to personnel of the British Military Advisory and Training Team which served in South Africa at the time.
In May 1895, Queen Victoria authorised Colonial governments to adopt various British military medals and to award them to their local permanent military forces. The Cape of Good Hope and Colony of Natal instituted their own territorial versions of the Meritorious Service Medal in terms of this authority. These two medals remained in use in the respective territories until after the establishment of the Union of South Africa in 1910.