First World War Service Medals

1914 & 1914-15 Stars British War Medal Allied Victory Medal Territorial Force War Medal Mercantile Marine War Medal Silver War Badge

A total of six different Service Medals (sometimes called Campaign Medals) and one badge were awarded for service during the First World war and any individual usually received up to three. Service medals were issued automatically to other ranks, but officers or their next of kin had to apply for them. Medals were stamped with the name of the recipient and usually included some or all of the following: service number, rank, first name or initial, surname and military unit (Regiment or Corps). This was either on the rim of the medal or in the case of a star, on the reverse.

The 1914 Star & The 1914/15 Star The first was awarded to soldiers who fought in France and Flanders up until 22 November 1914. The second to those who served anywhere abroad up to the end of 1915.
The British War Medal awarded to British and Imperial soldiers who served overseas up to the Armistice.
The Allied Victory Medal awarded to those who had the British War Medal and engaged with the enemy in a ‘theatre of war’.
The Territorial Force War Medal awarded to men serving in the Territorial Army when the war began and later became members of the Regular Army but who didn’t receive a Star Medal.
The Mercantile Marine War Medal awarded to mariners of the Merchant Navy for one or more voyages through a war or danger zone.
The Silver War Badge awarded to members of all ranks of the British and Imperial Forces who retired or were honourably discharged from duty due to sickness or injuries sustained in the conflict.

Note that AA gunners in England did not receive a campaign medal as the UK itself was not considered a ‘theatre of war’.

Pip, Squeak and Wilfred are the affectionate names given to the three WW1 service medals most often awarded as a group — The 1914 Star or The 1914-15 Star, British War Medal and Allied Victory Medal respectively. These medals were primarily awarded to the Old Contemptibles (regular Army servicemen of the British Expeditionary Force) and by convention all three medals are worn together and in the same order from left to right. When the medals were issued in the 1920’s there was a popular comic strip published by the Daily Mirror newspaper. It featured Pip the dog, Squeak the penguin and Wilfred the young rabbit. When just the pair of medals, the British War Medal and Allied Victory Medal, were awarded they were sometimes known as Mutt and Jeff, characters from another comic strip.


Imperial War Museum
Forces War Records
The Great War
The Long, Long Trail
All accessed July 2015

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