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Home - UK Medals

Introduction

This section deals with the UK medals and honours. I have not completely covered this vast subject in comprehensive depth, but I have attempted to cover items which have been of interest to me and have some relevance to other subjects covered in this web site.

Ranks and Orders

Several orders (as shown in the table in the following section) consist of ranks. These denote the seniority of the holder within the order. As an example, I shall explain the ranks within The Most Excellent Order of the British Empire; often referred to as the Order of the British Empire.

The Most Excellent Order of the British Empire

The Most Excellent Order of the British Empire was established by King George V in June 1917. The order consists of the ranks shown in the following table. It should be noted that all these ranks denote different holders of the same order.

In December 1918, separate military and civilian divisions were created for the The Most Excellent Order of the British Empire. The ranks and awards are identical between divisions, the difference being shown by the colour of the ribbon. The Military Division was created to reward distinguished service in action by officers and senior NCOs.

GBE Knight or Dame Grand Cross
KBE or DBE Knight or Dame Commander
CBE Commander
OBE Officer
MBE Member

The GBE and the MBE are the highest and lowest ranks within this order respectively. For example, a CBE would denote a Commander in The Most Excellent Order of the British Empire and an OBE would denote an Officer in The Most Excellent Order of the British Empire; the CBE being the more senior or higher precedence of the CBE and OBE.

Entry into the order does not have to be at the lowest rank of Member, but membership can't be awarded posthumously. Also a recipient can be promoted within the order, if their future conduct is deemed appropriate of further recognition.

Recipients of the GBE, KBE and DBE would also have the prefix of "Sir" or "Dame" for men and ladies respectively. However, the name prefixes of "Sir" and "Dame" are not specific to this order and are also used in other orders.

Precedence of UK Orders and Medals

The Ceremonial Secretariat (part of the UK Government's Cabinet Office) contains the latest list which shows the order that awards may be worn.

Click here to view the list.

Campaign Medals

Military campaign medals are ranked in chronological order of their attainment. However for the two world wars their order of precedence is shown below:

World War One

The list below shows the order of precedence for World War One medals.

  • 1914 Star with "15th August - 22 November 1914" clasp
  • 1914 Star
  • 1914-15 Star
  • British War Medal
  • Mercantile Marine Medal
  • Victory Medal
  • Territorial Force War Medal

World War Two

The list below shows the order of precedence for World War Two medals.

  • 1939-45 Star
  • Atlantic Star
  • Air Crew Europe Star
  • Africa Star
  • Pacific Star
  • Burma Star
  • Italy Star
  • France and Germany Star
  • Defence Medal
  • 1939/45 War Medal
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