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Military medals

1914-15 Star

Earned in: World War I, 1914-1915
Earned for: Service anywhere in the world before 31 December, 1915
Other information: The 1914-1915 scroll across the front marks this medal. Those with just ‘Aug 1914 Nov’ are the much rarer 1914 Star, for personnel who were in France or Belgium from 4 August to 22 November, 1914. The Stars had the name, number and unit on the rear
Further research: Medal rolls are held at TNA

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1914-18 War Medal

Earned in: World War I, 1914-1918
Earned for: Service in uniform or in an approved organisation anywhere in the world between 1914 and 1918. Personnel who fought in the Russian Civil War 1918-1920 were also eligible
Other information: Name, rank, number and unit are inscribed on the rim
Further research: Medal rolls are held at The National Archives. Originally, clasps were going to be awarded (some 147 were approved) for particular campaigns or actions, so notes are often on the medal records

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Victory Medal

Earned in: World War I, 1916-1919
Earned for: Service in any theatre of war after 1 January, 1916 (to avoid overlap with the 1914-1915 Star)
Other information: Variations of this medal were awarded by the governments of all of the Allied countries, leading to the symbolic rainbow ribbon
Further research: As with all of the World War I medals, the recipient’s details are on the rim, and you can check these with the medal rolls at TNA

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Silver Badge

Earned in: World War I, 1914-1918
Earned for: Having served in the Armed Forces, but being discharged due to wounds, illness or age
Other information: This badge was designed to prevent discharged soldiers, out of uniform, being accused of cowardice. A similar badge,an oblong topped by a crown and reading ‘Imperial Service’, was issued to men on garrison duty who had volunteered for overseas service and were just awaiting their posting
Further research: Unfortunately, these badges are not named

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1939-45 Star

Earned in: World War II, 1939-1945
Earned for: More than six months’ active service (or two months for aircrew)
Other information: Awarded to most members of the Armed Forces during World War II, this Star was also the only medal awarded for the early campaigns in France, Norway, the eastern Mediterranean or the Dieppe Raid. Just one clasp was issued, for aircrew who fought in the Battle of Britain, 10 July-31 October, 1940
Further research: If you think you have a Battle of Britain clasp, check Men of the Battle of Britain, Kenneth Wynn, CCB Associates, 1999

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Burma Star

Earned in: World War II, 1941-1945
Earned for: Service in Burma, Malaya, China or Assam and Bengal, India between December, 1941 and September 1945
Other information: If you subsequently qualified for the Pacific Star, you would receive a Pacific clasp for this medal. Sailors had to earn the 1939-1945 Star before becoming eligible for the Burma Star
Further research: Because these medals are unnamed, it can be difficult to trace the records of the recipient

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Pacific Star

Earned in: World War II, 1941-1945
Earned for: Service in Malaya before the fall of Singapore, or in the Pacific Ocean from December, 1941 until September, 1945
Other information: If you subsequently qualified for the Burma Star, you would receive a Burma clasp for this medal. Sailors had to earn the 1939-1945 Star before becoming eligible for the Pacific Star
Further research: Like all World War II campaign medals, the rolls are still held by the Ministry of Defence

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Africa Star

Earned in: World War II, 1940-1943
Earned for: Service in Eritrea, Abyssinia, Somaliland, Sudan, Egypt, Tunisia, Libya, Morocco, or Malta between 10 June, 1940 and 12 May, 1943
Other information: This medal did come with useful clasps: ‘1’ for the 1st Army from 8 November, 1942 to 12 May, 1943; ‘8’ for the 8th Army from 23 October, 1942 to 12 May, 1943; or ‘North Africa 1942-1943’ with the Navy or RAF over or off North Africa between 23 October, 1942 and 12 May, 1943
Further research: Some of the official histories show which units were involved where and when

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Italy Star

Earned in: World War II, 1943-1945
Earned for: Service in the Eastern or Northern Mediterranean (including Greece and the Greek Islands), southern France, Italy or Austria between 11 June, 1943 and 8 May, 1945
Other information: This medal was issued without clasps, and so is probably the least helpful
Further research: As with all of the 1939-1945 awards, try the Armed Forces Medal Office

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1939-45 War Medal

Earned in: World War II, 1939-1945
Earned for: 28 days’ service in a military or civilian support uniform
Other information: Some of the Dominion and Commonwealth countries issued their own War Medals with subtle variations
Further research: This is by far the most common World War II medal, and again only the MoD can shed light on why it was awarded

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