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Bacchus Marsh
Avenue of Honour

WW1 Honours & Awards, in order of decreasing precedence

See also
IT'S AN HONOUR website and the Department of Defence, medals and A Guide to British Awards
Gallantry Medals
Service Medals

Victoria Cross

image of the Victoria Crossclick to enlarge

The Victoria Cross is the highest award for acts of bravery in wartime. The award was created by Queen Victoria in 1856 and made retrospective to 1854 to cover the period of the Crimean War. The Victoria Cross bears the inscription For Valour and is cast from the metal of guns captured during the Crimean War 1854-56. After melting the bronze metal from the cannons, the rough cast Crosses are then individually hand finished. The bar, decorated with laurel leaves and bearing a V from which the cross hangs, is cast separately. Recipients of the Victoria Cross displayed the most conspicuous courage, daring, valour, self-sacrifice or displays of extreme devotion to duty. Recipients of the award are entitled to use the post-nominal VC.

Military Cross

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Instituted in December 1914 by King George V and originally intended for lower ranking Army officers, Captain or less, and Warrant Officers for distinguished and meritorious services. The award carries the post-nominal MC.

In 1916 the award was extended to similar ranks of the Navy and Air Force but only for World War 1. Subsequently in 1931 the Cross was extended to lower ranked Air Force officers for actions on the ground.

In 1920 the reason for the award was changed to be for distinguished services in action. In 1953 the ceiling rank for availability was extended to Majors and to all ranks in 1993 with the discontinuation of the other ranks counter part the Military Medal.

Australians figure prominently among recipients, particularly from World War 1, with 2,403 awards, 170 first Bars and four second Bars. In total between 1901 and 1972, Australians were awarded 2,930 Military Crosses, with 188 first Bars and four second Bars.

Distinguished Conduct Medal

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Created in 1854 by Queen Victoria and awarded to non-commissioned officers and other ranks of the Army for distinguished conduct in action in the field. From 1942 members of the Navy and the Air Force were eligible for service on the ground. The Medal was discontinued in 1993. Recipients of the award are entitled to use the post-nominal DCM. The ribbon is of crimson with a dark blue central stripe about one-third of the width of the ribbon. The last award to an Australian was made in 1972 arising from the Vietnam War. Since the Boer War, the Medal has been awarded to 2071 members of the Army and three members of the Air Force. Thirty first Bars have been awarded, all to members of the Army. The majority of the Bars came from incidents in the First World War.

Military Medal

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Created in 1916 by King George V for other ranks in the Army to correspond with the Military Cross instituted two years earlier, but eventually back dated in availability to 1914. Awarded to other ranks for acts of gallantry and devotion to duty under fire.

In 1916, the Medal was extended to other ranks of the Navy serving in France, but only for actions in World War 1. In 1931, the availability of the Medal was extended to other ranks of the Air Force for gallant conduct on the ground. Recipients of the medal are entitled to use the post-nominal MM. Discontinued in 1993 when the Military Cross was made available to all ranks. The ribbon is principally of dark blue with three white and two crimson vertical stripes in the cental third. Australians have won a very large number of Medals in the campaigns to 1972 when the last award to an Australian was made. 11,038 Military Medals were awarded to Army personnel and 14 to Air Force members. 478 first Bars were awarded, 15 second Bars and a unique third Bar to a stretcher bearer with the 55th Infantry Battalion AIF in World War 1, Private E A Corey, meaning he had won the Medal four times.

Meritorious Service Medal

image of the Military Medal
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In 1916 the award criteria for the MSM were amended by the UK authorities to allow immediate award of the medal to recognise non-operational gallantry or meritorious service connected with the war effort. In essence this was a separate Meritorious Service Medal as persons serving in the Permanent Forces still continued to accrue entitlement to the medal for meritorious long service. Persons who awarded an immediate Meritorious Service Medal for gallantry or meritorious service connected with the war were entitled to use the post-nominal letter 'MSM' after their name. Australians were awarded 1222 Meritorious Service Medals for gallantry or meritorious service in connection with the First World War. This includes four to awards to members of the Navy and 34 awards to members of the Australian Flying Corps. A total of 32 awards made were to recognise gallantry, including the award (unique for Australia) of a bar for gallantry to a medal awarded for a previous act of gallantry. This double award went to a member of the Australian Flying Corps. In 1928 the UK authorities ceased the practice of awarding the Meritorious Service Medal for non-operational gallantry or meritorious war service and reverted the medal to an award to recognise meritorious long service. When awarded to Australians for non-operational gallantry or meritorious service connected with the war effort, the medal used was the UK version, without the words 'Commonwealth of Australia' on the reverse and the UK ribbon of crimson with white vertical stripes at each edge and in the centre. It is technically possible for a member of the Permanent Military Forces with service in the First World War who continued permanent military service after the war as a non-commissioned or warrant officer and who had been awarded the MSM for non-operational gallantry or meritorious service in connection with the war effort to hold both MSM. In this case, the recipient would be entitled to use the post-nominal letters 'MSM' in connection with the UK war time award but not the post-war meritorious long service Australian award.

Mention in Dispatches

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The Mention in Despatches (MID) is the oldest British award and was a device used by commanders at sea or in the field to bring the services of deserving officers to the attention of higher authority.

The MID was instituted in Australia in 1920 and took the form of a small oakleaf device. Many Australian Defence Force personnel received an MID during World War I and II and their names appeared in the London Gazette. Only one device was awarded irrespective of the number of times an individual was mentioned.

Following World War I the device was fixed at a low angle to the centre of the ribbon of the Victory Medal which was awarded to all personnel who served in any operations or at sea. For those awarded during World War II, the device is placed at the centre and at 60 degrees on the ribbon of the 1939-1945 War Medal.

The MID continued in Australia until the end of the Vietnam War and was phased out with the introduction of the Australian system of honours and awards in 1975. Over 15,000 Australian Defence Force personnel received the MID and records can be viewed at the Australian War Memorial website.

The MID is the only form of recognition, apart from the Victoria Cross (VC), that could be made posthumously for gallantry or distinguished service in action or on operations. It is not included in the Order of Wearing Australian Honours and Awards published by Government House.

Commander in Chief's Congratulatory Card

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This is a low ranking award in relation to the others. It would be ranked lower than an MID award. The MID is listed in the London Gazette and the Commonwealth Gazette whereas the C in C award is not. They would certainly have received a card, an example of which is shown at the left.


Service Medals and Badges

1914-1915 Star

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The 1914–15 Star was authorised in 1918 and was awarded for service in specified theatres of war between 5 August 1914 and 31 December 1915. A recipient of the 1914 Star could not also be awarded the 1914–15 Star.

The four pointed star is bright bronze, ensigned with a crown. The obverse has crossed gladius, overlaid with an oak wreath that is ensigned with the cypher of King George V. A scroll bearing the legend 1914-15 is centrally placed across the crossed blades.

The ribbon has the red white and blue colours of the Empire, in shaded and watered stripes. The same ribbon is used for the 1914 Star and the 1914–15 Star.

British War Medal 1914-20

image of British War Medal
click to enlargeimage of the 1914-15 Star
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Instituted by King George V in 1919 to mark the end of World War I and record the service given. The British War Medal was awarded for service in a theatre of war between 5 August 1914 and 11 November 1918. Those eligible included members of women's organisations; persons on the staffs of military hospitals and members of recognised organisations who handled sick and wounded; and members of other duly recognised or other authorised organisations as specified in medal regulations. The qualification period was later extended to cover post-war mine clearance and service in Russia during 1919 and 1920

The British War Medal is cupro-nickel with the effigy of George V on the obverse. The reverse has an image of St George on horseback trampling underfoot the eagle shield of the Central Powers, and a skull and cross-bones, the emblems of death. Above this is the risen sun of victory. The years 1914 and 1918 are contained on the outside edge medal.

The British War Medal has a wide central watered stripe of orange, flanked by two narrow white stripes, which are in turn flanked by two black pin-stripes, further flanked by two outer stripes of blue. The colours have no particular significance.

Victory Medal

image of the 1914-15 Star
click to enlargeimage of the Victory Medal
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The Victory Medal was authorised in 1919 to commemorate the victory of the Allied Forces over the Central Powers. Each of the Allied nations issued a Victory Medal to their own nationals with all of these having the figure of Victory on the obverse as a common feature. Australians were awarded the medal issued by Great Britain.

The Victory Medal was awarded to prescribed classes of persons who entered a theatre of war on duty between 5 August 1914 and 11 November 1918.

A member mentioned in despatches (MID) for service during World War 1 wears a bronze oak leaf on the Victory Medal ribbon. Only one emblem is worn no matter how many times a member may have been mentioned. When a ribbon alone is worn a slightly smaller oak leaf is worn as a ribbon emblem.

The Victory Medal is bronze with a winged figure of Victory on the obverse. The reverse has the words THE GREAT WAR FOR CIVILISATION, all surrounded by a laurel wreath.

The Victory Medal ribbon has a two rainbow design, with the violet from each rainbow on the outside edges moving through to a central red stripe where both rainbows meet.

Silver War Badge

image of the Silver War Badge
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Courtesy of AWM

The Silver War Badge was a First World War badge authorised for issue to members of the armed forces of the British empire. It was granted to those who had served since 4 August 1914. In the case of officers the badge was issued to those who had retired or relinquished their commissions. The badge was issued to other ranks who had been discharged on account of age, wounds or sickness, such as would render them permanently unfit for further service.

ANZAC Leave Rosette

ANZAC Leave Rosette
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Courtesy of AWM

Pair of ANZAC leave rosettes made from red, white and dark blue wool flannel made up of concentric circles of red (outer), white and dark blue (inner), with three red, white and dark blue tails of equal length suspended from them.

ANZAC rosettes were given to men returning on this special leave to wear on each sleeve so that members of the Australian public would recognise their previous early service and not accuse able bodied men of shirking service when recruits were still being sought to bolster the badly depleted fighting units of the AIF.

Soldiers were granted special leave for having enlisted in 1914

ANZAC Commemorative Medal or Gallipoli Medal

ANZAC Commemorative Medal
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Courtesy of AWM

Issued in 1967 to surviving members of the Australian Defence Force who served on the Gallipoli Peninsula.

1914-1918 Memorial Plaque and Scroll

1914-1918 Memorial Plaque
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Courtesy of
The Great War 1914-1918

In early 1920 it was announced that the next-of-kin of all Australian servicemen and women whose deaths were attributable to the First World War would receive a memorial plaque and scroll as a solace for bereavement and as a memento.

The memorial plaques were not uniquely Australian. In fact they were designed and produced in Britain and issued to commemorate all those who died as a result of war service from within the British Commonwealth.

The idea for the plaques was originally conceived mid-way through the war. In 1917 a competition was announced to obtain a suitable design and 800 entries were eventually received. The winner, Mr. E. Carter Preston of Liverpool, England, was chosen in 1918. He was awarded a prize of 250 pounds.

The scroll designed to accompany the plaques was of thick paper, headed by the royal coat-of-arms, and bore the following message:

He whom this scroll commemorates was numbered among those who, at the call of King and Country, left all that was dear to them, endured hardness, faced danger, and finally passed out of the sight of men by the path of duty and self-sacrifice, giving up their own lives that others might live in freedom.
Let those that come after see that his name is not forgotten.