Explore this vast collection of campaign, gallantry, and service medals and awards across various branches of the military. The records include names from the British Army, Royal Marines, Royal Navy, and Merchant Navy. These are the names of men and women who showed exceptional courage and fortitude in the face of danger. You will find records from both world wars as well as the Peninsular War, Indian Mutiny, Waterloo, and many more conflicts.
This collection has been created from a variety of sources. Therefore the details found in each record will vary depending on the source, the event or award, and the condition of the original sources. Each transcript will contain a variation of the following facts:
Name – In certain cases, only an individual’s first initial was recorded. Search for name variants if your search does not give you sufficient results.
Regiment – In some records, regimental names are abbreviated – for example, AFI (Auxiliary Force India) and IDF (Indian Defence Force).
Notes (e.g. if deceased, discharged, not entitled to the medal)
Cause of injury or death
Link to the image, available for download from The National Archives
The National Archives reference number
Many of the records will provide you with an image of the original document. Looking at the original document will give you further information about your ancestor and possibly explain the actions that lead to your ancestor being given an award or medal.
The section below will explain more about each medal type represented in this collection.
The Britain, Campaign, Gallantry & long Service Medals & Awards is a collection of records for those who were recognised for their service, courage, and accomplishments in times of war and conflict. The awards include, in part, Military Medals, Distinguished Conduct Medals, Waterloo Medals, Merchant Navy Medals, and the Victoria Cross Award, the premier award for gallantry. You can search by a specific medal type.
Army Gold Medal / Military General Service Medal, 1793-1814
British Army Medal Index Cards, 1914-1920
British Royal Air Force, Gallantry Awards 1914-1919
British Royal Navy, Foreign Awards to Officers index 1914-1922
Distinguished Conduct Medal Citations, 1914-1920
Distinguished Conduct Medal, 1857-1908
Distinguished Conduct Medal, Medal Index Cards, 1914-1920
India Efficiency Medal Awards, 1930-1939
India Volunteer Force Medal Awards, 1915-1939
Indian Mutiny Medal, 1857-1859
Merchant Navy Medal Index Cards, 1914-1920
Military Medal, 1914-1920
Royal Artillery Honours & Awards, 1886-2013
Royal Marines Medal Index Cards, 1914-1920
Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve Ratings, Medal Roll, 1914-1920
Royal Navy Officers, Medal Roll, 1914-1920
Royal Navy Ratings, 1914 Star Medal Roll, 1914-1920
Victoria Cross Awards, 1854-2006
Waterloo Medal, 1815
There are 26,608 records of the men who applied for and received the Military General Service Medal or who were awarded the Army Gold Medal.
The Military General Service Medal was issued in 1847. It is a campaign medal issued to men and officers of the British Army. It was approved on 1 June 1847 as a retrospective award for those who served in various military actions between 1793 and 1814, a period that covered the French Revolutionary Wars, the Napoleonic Wars, and the Anglo-American War of 1812. The 5th Duke of Richmond, who had fought at Waterloo, campaigned for a medal for all survivors of the campaigns between 1793 and 1814. He appealed to Parliament and also enlisted the support of Queen Victoria, who persuaded the Duke of Wellington that an award was necessary for all ranks. Senior officers had received the Army Gold Medal 30 years before.
The medal was one of the first medals to be issued with clasps. The clasps represented individual campaigns and the medal was never issued without at least one clasp. The maximum number a man could have was 15. Medals were only issued to survivors and had to be actively applied for. General illiteracy and poor advertising of the new award meant that many men did not hear about it. The number of medals issued represents a tiny proportion of the men who actually fought in the campaigns of this period.
The collection includes the 4.5 million campaign medal index cards and silver war badge cards of soldiers. It is the most comprehensive list of individuals who fought in the First World War. The index cards were created by the Army Medal Office in Droitwich.
You can purchase the original medal index card for a small fee from The National Archives, through the link provided on the transcript. Each card details a soldier’s medal entitlement. Some of the cards have additional annotations about awarded medals. Other ranks were automatically sent their medals, but officers had to claim their medals.
The records remind us of the vast impact of the Great War. The call to arms went out across the British Empire. The collection includes some records for the Imperial units, but most of the index cards are for British soldiers. Available in the collection are cards which include medal entitlement for the General Service Medal awarded to men who took part in operations on the North West Frontier in 1919.
Multiple regimental numbers
While exploring the medal index cards, you may discover that your ancestor had more than one regimental (or soldier) number. Regimental numbers are extremely complex, but understanding these can help you unlock a soldier’s service history.
A regimental number was far from unique. Most regiments issued regimental numbers from multiple series and if your ancestor was in the Territorial Force, you may find that he has two numbers: his original number and a new number, which would have been issued to him when the Territorial Force was re-numbered in 1917. For detailed information on regimental numbers visit [Paul Nixon’s blog: Army Service Numbers 1881-1918] (http://armyservicenumbers.blogspot.co.uk/2009/07/army-service-numbers-1881-1918-index.html).
Explore this index of RAF members who were awarded gallantry medals. Discover your ancestor’s rank, service number and the date he was published in the London Gazette. Each record is a transcript created by Graham Clitheroe.
Awards for gallantry were given to those who displayed acts of exceptional bravery. This set is focused specifically on members of the Royal Air Force (RAF) and awards given from 1914 to 1919, during the First World War. Awards and medals were often announced in the London Gazette, the official newspaper of the British government. The British Royal Air Force, gallantry awards 1914-1919 includes the names of 11 Victoria Cross recipients. The Victoria Cross is the highest honour that can be awarded. Below is a list of all the medals included in this index.
The Royal Flying Corps (RFC) was the first air branch of the British Army. The Royal Naval Air Service (RNAS) was the air arm of the Royal Navy. At the outbreak of the First World War, the RNAS had 727 personnel with 93 aircraft and 6 airships. On 1 April 1918, it was amalgamated with the RFC and the RAF was created. As the air force became more sophisticated, it revolutionised war. The RAF supported the Army and Navy through photographic reconnaissance and tactical air support. The RAF was also used to drop propaganda leaflets in an attempt to demoralise the enemy forces. In the final years of the war, ‘aces’ (fighter pilots with five or more victories) were celebrated at home as heroes of the war and the air force began to be romanticised in popular culture.
British Royal Air Force, gallantry awards 1914-1919 awards list
Air Force Cross
Air Force Medal
Distinguished Flying Cross
Distinguished Flying Medal
Distinguished Service Cross
Distinguished Service Order
Mentioned in Despatches
Meritorious Service Medal
Captain William George Barker
In the records, you will find a number of records for W G Barker. Barker was the most decorated Canadian in the First World War. He was awarded the Distinguished Service Order and Bar, Military Cross, Victoria Cross, and 2 Bars. He was awarded the Military Cross for actions in the final stages of the Battle of the Somme. According to the London Gazette, Barker was awarded the medal, ‘For conspicuous gallantry in action. He flew at a height of 500 feet over the enemy’s lines, and brought back most valuable information. On another occasion, after driving off two hostile machines, he carried out an excellent photographic reconnaissance’. He later received the Distinguished Service Order in February 1918 after he dropped an Italian agent by parachute behind enemy lines.
Transcript of foreign awards awarded to naval officers have been compiled from transcripts held in The National Archives and document Foreign Decorations and Medals awarded to Royal Navy Officers, Royal Marines, Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve, Royal Naval Air Service and Royal Naval Reserve. A few entries pertain to Naval Other Ranks and Civil Admiralty Staff.
The countries represented by these foreign awards are as follows: Belgium, China, Czecho-Slovakia, Egypt, France and the French Colonies, Greece, Hedjaz, Italy, Japan, Morocco, Portugal, Roumania, Russia, Serbia, Siam, Sweden, Tunis, United States of America, and Zanzibar.
This record set is provided by John Marshall.
Learn more about the foreign awards mentioned in these records
Below is additional information regarding some of the most prevalent foreign awards mentioned in these records.
Legion of Honour: This is the highest decoration in France, established by Napoleon Bonaparte in 1802. There are five classifications within this order: Chevalier, Officier, Commandeur, Grand Officier, and Grand Croix.
Medaille Militaire: This is the third highest award bestowed by the French Republic. It is awarded in acknowledgement of brave acts and meritorious service against enemy forces.
United States of America
Learn more about the British awards mentioned in these records
As noted above, the British awards are listed in their standard abbreviated format. Below are explanations of those abbreviations:
VC: Victoria Cross – This is the premier award for gallantry in the presence of the enemy and can be awarded to all ranks. It can also be awarded posthumously.
DSO: Distinguished Service Order – This award honours distinguished leadership during active operations against the enemy. It is usually reserved for those officers of senior ranks.
DSC: Distinguished Service Cross – This award can be presented to all ranks of the RN, RM, Army, and RAF and honours their gallantry during active operations at sea against the enemy.
MC: Military Cross – Like the DSC, this can be awarded to all ranks of the RN, RM, Army, and RAF in honour of their gallantry during active operations on land against the enemy.
OM: Order of Merit – It is a dynastic order that acknowledges exemplary service in several fields, of which the armed forces is one.
Most Honourable Order of the Bath (GCB, KCB, CB): Knight Grand Cross, Knight Commander Cross, and Companion Cross – All three honours are part of the fourth highest British order of Chivalry, the Most Honourable Order of the Bath, which is bestowed upon senior officers of the military.
Royal Victorian Order (GCVO, KCVO, CVO, MVO): Knight Grand Cross, Knight Commander, Commander, Lieutenant, and Member – All five honours are part of this dynastic order of knighthood and are awarded in commemoration of distinguished service.
Order of St Michael and St George (GCMG, CMG): Knight Grand Cross, Companion – Both honours are part of this order of chivalry. It is bestowed upon those individuals who rendered significant service to their homeland or to foreign nations.
Everyone who took part in the Great War should be considered a hero, but some acts of bravery went above and beyond the call of duty and 25,000 men who undertook such acts were awarded the WWI Distinguished Conduct Medal. The citations for Distinguished Conduct Medals are hard to find – histories of military units often have no space for more than a brief mention or just the bare fact of the award tucked away in an appendix. Others are lost in the labyrinth of small print in the official London Gazette. To view the citations you should view the original image as well as viewing the transcript.
The Distinguished Conduct Medal was instituted in 1854 during the Crimean War to recognise gallantry for other ranks (non-officer rank). Bars were awarded in recognition of further acts of gallantry meriting the same award
These records list the full citations of the Distinguished Conduct Medal (and second and third award bars) in the Great War. The Distinguished Conduct Medal may not have the cachet of the Victoria Cross (VC), but the deeds told in the citations for the award are just as heroic and inspiring.
Graham Clitheroe has transcribed over 3,000 names of those who were awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal between 1857 and 1908. The transcripts include a reference for original military documents held at The National Archives as well as the date of the London Gazette in which the recipient’s name appears.
This is the third set of Distinguished Conduct Medals found in this collection. These records were transcribed directly from The National Archives’ records, and you can view the individual image. The records come from The National Archives series WO 372, known as the War Office: Service Medal and Award Rolls Index, First World War. The images found here, from piece number 23 within this series, are index cards created by the Army Office for recipients of the Distinguished Conduct Medal, Military Medal, and Women’s Services. Both men and women are represented in this collection.
The records show over 15,000 individuals from the Indian Defence Force (IDF) or the Auxiliary Force India (AFI) who were awarded the medals between 1915 and 1939. The IDF and AFI were India’s equivalent to the United Kingdom’s Territorial Army, which comprised part-time regiments of European soldiers who could be fully mobilised in wartime. Prior to 1920, the IDF and AFI were known as the Indian Volunteer Force (1857-1917). During the First World War, most of the Indian Volunteer units were stationed in India on internal security assignments. They became a part of the umbrella organisation Indian Defence Force (IDF) in 1917. The IDF was disbanded after the war but voluntary service continued through the Auxiliary Force from 1920 onward.
The Volunteer Forces Long Service Medal & Good Conduct Medal were instituted in May 1894 and awarded to non-commissioned officers and men who had served for a minimum of 20 years in the volunteer forces. The award was superseded by the Territorial Force Efficiency Medal in 1908 but remained in use in India until 1930.
The Efficiency Medal was introduced in October 1930 when it replaced the Volunteer Forces Long Service and Good Conduct Medal. The medal was awarded for 12 years of continuous and efficient service.
The records may reveal your relative’s service number, rank, and unit or regiment, as well as details of any clasps they received. You may also be able to discover if your ancestor deserted or forfeited their medal for other reasons. This record set contains the records of those men from the British Army who fought in the Indian Mutiny of 1857-1859 with extracts of men from the Honourable East India Company Army. These records were taken from the medal rolls held at The National Archives (WO 100/35-39) and those in the British Library Indian Collection (L/MIL/5). In addition, details have been taken from muster books, casualty returns, despatches, depot books and several other sources.
There are one hundred records of men who deserted and several who forfeited their medals due to ‘disgraceful conduct’, being court martialed, or committing a felony, among other reasons. Additionally, there are almost 9,000 records of men who were killed in action, died from their wounds, committed suicide, or died on furlough.
The records often reveal the exact cause of death or injury – for example, where the individual was wounded or what they died of. Some examples include Ralph Bunting’s blown-off thumb in a musket accident, Frederick William Burroughs’ head injury from a sabre cut, Patrick Byrne ‘contused by musket ball’, and several others injured by swords. The ‘Notes’ category sometimes provides details of the men’s occupations. Many were labourers, one man is a pearl button maker from Birmingham, and others were listed as dyer, boatman, flax dresser, tanner, comber, groom, collier, miner, whip stocker, or servant.
The Indian Mutiny Medal was a campaign medal sanctioned in 1858 for officers and men of British and Indian units who served in operations to suppress the Indian Mutiny. The medal was initially approved to award those troops who had fought against the mutineers, but in 1868, it was extended to all those who had borne arms or been under fire, including members of India’s judiciary and civil service, who were caught up in the fighting. Five clasps were authorized: Delhi, Defence of Lucknow, Relief of Lucknow, Lucknow, and Central India. The maximum one man could receive was four clasps.
The Indian Mutiny
The Indian Mutiny is also known as the Indian Rebellion of 1857, the Sepoy Mutiny, or the Uprising of 1857. The mutiny began in the northern Indian city of Meerut, in May 1857, with a rebellion of Sepoys (Hindu or Muslim soldiers) in the service of the British East India Company Army against British authorities. The rebellion was focused around northern and central India and posed a significant threat to East India Company power in that area. Ultimately, the mutiny was a failure and peace was declared on 8 July 1858. However, it resulted in the dissolution of the East India Company that same year, as well as the reorganization of the army, the financial system, and the administration in India.
There are 157,424 records of Merchant Navy seamen in this collection. Each transcript has a link to download a copy of the original record card from The National Archives. Merchant Navy seamen who had served at sea for at least six months during the First World War and who had served on at least one voyage through a danger zone were entitled to the Mercantile Marine Medal, awarded by the Board of Trade, a committee of the Privy Council of the United Kingdom. Recipients of the Mercantile Marine Medal were automatically entitled to the British War Medal and those who were invalided out of the navy during the war were entitled to receive the Silver War Badge. The medal card tells you which medals were awarded as well as giving details of the seaman’s career in the Merchant Navy, as well as his discharge number.
If you find your Merchant Navy ancestor received a medal during the First World War, you can use Findmypast to find out a lot more about him and his career. Try searching the Merchant Navy seamen record set, where you might even find a photograph. You can also search by name among those who were awarded the Silver War medal badge, and of course, there are census results and birth, marriage, and death records.
Captain Charles Algernon Fryatt
Among those who were awarded the Mercantile Marine Medal was Captain Charles Algernon Fryatt from Southampton. Born in 1872, Charles Fryatt joined the Merchant Navy when he left school, as his father had before him. He swiftly rose through the ranks and was soon a master and captain of various ships. On 28 March 1915, as captain of the SS Brussels, he was ordered to stop by the U-boat, U-33. The U-boat surfaced and was preparing to torpedo the SS Brussels. Fryatt ordered full steam ahead and attempted to ram the U-boat, which was forced to crash dive. Winston Churchill had issued orders to the captains of all merchant ships to ram U-boats if they had the opportunity. They were also ordered to treat crew as felons rather than as prisoners of war, to ignore white flags, and to shoot survivors, if this was more convenient than capturing them. In recognition of this incident, Fryatt was awarded a gold watch by the Admiralty, engraved with the praise for the example he set as captain of the SS Brussels whilst engaged against a German U-boat.
In June 1916, the SS Brussels left Hoek van Holland bound for Harwich. A passenger is reported to have signalled from the deck as she sailed. Five German destroyers surrounded SS Brussels and seized the ship, escorting her to Zeebrugge, then on to Bruges. Fryatt and his crew were sent to the civilian internment camp at Ruhleben, near Berlin, but when his captors saw what was written on his watch, Fryatt was charged with sinking a German submarine.
Fryatt was tried by court martial in Bruges Town Hall on 27 July 1916. He was found guilty of being a ‘franc-tireur’ - a French term meaning literally a free shooter or guerrilla fighter. He was executed by firing squad and buried in a small graveyard just outside Bruges that the Germans used for burying Belgian ‘traitors’.
Fryatt’s death caused outrage across Europe and America, as well as at home in England. A memorial to Fryatt was erected at Liverpool Street Station on the first anniversary of his death. The incident also inspired a 1917 Australian film The Murder of Captain Fryatt. In 1919, Fryatt’s body was exhumed and repatriated to England and his funeral was held in St Paul’s Cathedral in London. Along with his Mercantile Marine Medal, Fryatt was also posthumously awarded both the Belgian Order of Leopold and the Belgian Maritime War Cross.
The Military Medal was given to other ranks of the British Army who demonstrated gallantry and devotion to duty during conflict. The medal was first established in 1916 and was equivalent to the Military Cross. The physical medal was inscribed with the words, ‘For bravery in the field’. Those who have received the award are entitled to use the letters MM after their name. The Military Medal records in this collection were transcribed from The National Archives WO 372/23 series, War Office: Service Medal and Award Rolls Index, First World War. Piece number 23 holds index cards for Military Medals, Distinguished Conduct Medals, and Women’s Services. You can view the original index card created by the War Office to track the names of recipients of the award.
Find out more about your ancestor’s military service including the unit he served with, the awards he received, including the Military Cross and the Distinguished Service Order, and where he served. These records cover the period when the Royal Artillery served in the Boer War, both World Wars, Korea, Northern Ireland, Gulf and right up to modern conflicts including Afghanistan and Iraq.
The Royal Artillery
The Royal Regiment of Artillery, more commonly known as the Royal Artillery, is the artillery arm of the British Army. Despite the name the RA is made up of several regiments. The first regular companies of artillery men were raised in 1716, by royal warrant of George 1 and the name Royal Artillery came along four years later. By 1771 there were 32 companies in four battalions, as well as two ‘invalid battalions’ of older or unfit men employed in garrison duties.
In 1899 the RA was divided into three groups. The Royal Horse Artillery and the Royal Field Artillery made up one group. A second group called the Royal Garrison Artillery comprised the coastal defence, mountain, siege and heavy batteries. The third and final group, with responsibility for ammunition storage and supply, was known as the Royal Artillery.
In 1920 the rank of Bombardier was introduced.
Until 1924 the three groups acted as separate companies but at this point they were once again joined as a single regiment. In 1938 RA Brigades were renamed Regiments. During the Second World War there were over 1 million men serving in 960 gunner regiments. The RA also has an important role in air defence.
These records span 1886 to 2013 covering conflicts and military action including the Boer War, both World Wars, the Korean War, Northern Ireland, the Falklands War, the Former Yugoslavia, the Gulf as well as Afghanistan and Iraq.
Among the awards RA members received was the Military Cross. Created in 1914, the award is granted in recognition for acts of gallantry during active operations against the enemy on land. Although the MC has subsequently been extended to all ranks and can now be awarded posthumously, these records cover the period from 1916 to 1945. When the award was first introduced it was for commissioned officers up to the rank of Captain and for Warrant Officers. During the First World War, Acting Captain Francis Wallington was the first man to be awarded the MC and all three bars. You can find each of his awards in these records. In 1931 the MC was extended to Majors. From 1979 the award could be received posthumously and since 1993 it has been available to all ranks.
The Distinguished Service Order was introduced in 1886 for officers ranked Major or higher, although the award was sometimes given to Junior Officers, usually in recognition that they had narrowly missed out on a Victoria Cross. There was resentment among lower ranks between 1914 and 1916 when the award went to officers including Staff Officers, who could not have been described as serving under fire. After 1 January 1917 commanders in the field were instructed to only recommend this award for those actually serving under fire.
The set contains the names of over 75,000 Royal Marine Officers, non-commissioned officers, and other ranks, and provides a complete listing of all Royal Marines who served in the First World War. The medals covered by the rolls are the 1914 Star, the Clasp to the 1914 Star, the 1914-15 Star, the British War Medal, and the Victory Medal.
This database is a transcription of The National Archives document series ADM 171/167-171 (inclusive), ADM 171/92, and ADM 171/139, which comprise the complete World War One Campaign Medal Rolls for the Royal Marines. Added to the transcript are service details for a large number of men, particularly those killed in action or who died of wounds during the First World War, and in many cases, post-war deaths and Second World War deaths are noted.
Each man's entry is linked to display the original medal roll page image. For recipients of the 1914 Star, two or more images are provided from the original handwritten 1914 Star Roll (ADM 171/139) and the later typewritten rolls.
The following branches of the Royal Marines are listed in the rolls:
RMLI - Royal Marine Light Infantry (Chatham (CH), Portsmouth (PO) or Plymouth (PLY) prefix to service number)
RMA - Royal Marine Artillery (RMA prefix to service number)
RMB - Royal Marine Band Service/Royal Naval School of Music (RMB prefix to service number)
RMLC - Royal Marine Labour Corps (Old) (Deal prefix to numbers 8000/S to 15952/S)
RMLC - Royal Marine Labour Corps (Home Service Labour Company) (CH prefix to numbers 14100/S to 14342/S)
RME - Royal Marine Engineers (RME prefix to service numbers 301/S to 8271/S) The men specially enlisted for the Royal Naval Division support units:
Royal Marines (RND Divisional Engineers - Deal prefix to numbers 1/S to 1500/S & 5001/S to 5895/S)
Royal Marines (RND Divisional Train - Deal prefix to numbers 1501/S to 2762/S)
Royal Marines (RND Medical Unit - Deal prefix to numbers 3000/S to 4400/S)
Royal Marines (RND Ordnance Company - Deal prefix to numbers 4501/S to 4564/S) In addition to the above, there are several anomalies on the roll:
RMLC - Royal Marine Labour Corps (New) (Deal prefix to service numbers 1/N to 1424/N). This unit was raised in March 1919, and the few men listed on the roll all had former service with the RMLC (Old). The service which qualified them for First World War medals was with the RMLC (Old).
There are two men who enlisted pre-1880 and were never allocated a service number. These two men re-enlisted in 1914 for UK Home Service and are listed under their old RMLI or RMA company number (Private Henry Medley, 25th Company RMLI & Gunner Thomas H. Pitt, 5th Company RMA).
During the course of transcription of these rolls, The National Archives (TNA) released the Royal Marine Service Registers (ADM 159) for online access, which, with the free search facility for names and numbers, provided a very useful source for error checking. Please note, however, that ADM 159 Service Registers do not exist for about 15,250 First World War enlisted Royal Marines.
Three branches are not catered for in TNA online records:
7,000 Royal Marine Labour Corps (Old) ADM 157 3270-3458
250 Royal Marine Labour Corps (Home Service Labour Company) ADM 157 3459-3466
8,000 Royal Marine Engineers ADM 157 3467-3625
All of the records in these ranges are arranged in service number order.
Fortunately, the service papers for these 15,250 Marines may be found in TNA Class ADM 157. Royal Marine Officers' Records are not currently available online, although their service records are on microfilm in TNA Class ADM 196.
Known problems and errors
The compilation of such a large listing in the late 1920s, without the benefit of modern computer aids, was an impressive task. It is, therefore, understandable that many errors and omissions crept in. All identified errors in service numbers, names, and ranks are corrected in the transcript, with an accompanying note of the error correction in the text notes. The medal entitlement column, however, is listed exactly as is given in the rolls, even if in error, and the correct medal entitlement is shown in the text notes.
Captain Roy Swales R.N. as representative of the Fleet Air Arm Museum, Yeovilton, who provided many hours of his time investigating and checking queries, thereby enabling accurate corrections in this project.
Mary Leong, of The National Archives, in providing a very efficient and conscientious service of document copying and supply.
Jack Marshall (C) 2009
Discover if your ancestor served in the Royal Navy Volunteer Reserve during The First World War and what campaign medals he was awarded. Search more than 72,000 records for stories of gallantry and distinguished service. The Royal Navy Volunteer Reserve was founded in 1903 and formed of officers and other ranks who undertook naval training in their spare time. Unlike the Royal Navy Reserve they were not necessarily professional seamen. Known affectionately during the First World War as the ‘Wavy Navy’, the RNVR was to take over from the earlier Royal Navy Artillery Volunteers, beginning with divisions in London, the Clyde, and the Mersey.
Many of the men in the early days of the London division were yachtsmen. One company was made up entirely of men from the Stock Exchange. In the early months of the war, many were incorporated into the Army Royal Naval Division for service ashore. Many of the initial contingent were wiped out at Antwerp. Brigaded with the Royal Marines they also served ashore in the Dardanelles and on the Western Front.
Others went to the Royal Navy where they worked on the big ships of the Grand Fleet. Some were armed guards on merchant ships and many took part in boarding parties. They also manned armed yachts and launches. These records were transcribed and compiled by Jack Marshall.
Authorised in April 1917 and awarded to those who served in France and Belgium between 5 August and midnight on 22/23 November 1914 or those who served on the strength of a unit. Recipients of the 1914 Star automatically qualified for the British War and Victory Medals, but were ineligible for the 1914-15 Star.
Clasp to the 1914 Star
Sanctioned by King George V in October 1919 and awarded to all who had been under fire in France or Belgium between 5 August and midnight on 22/23 November 1914.
Authorised in 1918 and awarded to those who saw active service between 5 August 1914 and 31 December 1915. Recipients of the 1914-15 Star automatically qualified for the British War and Victory Medals. Recipients of the 1914 Star were ineligible for the 1914-15 Star.
British War Medal
Authorised in 1919 to mark the end of the Great War and awarded to all ranks who had completed 28 days of mobilised service between 5 August 1914 and 11 November 1918.
Authorised in 1919 to commemorate the victory of the Allies over the Central Powers. It was awarded to all who embarked on active service at sea or on land in a Theatre of Operations between midnight on 4/5 August 1914 and midnight on 11/12 November 1918. Recipients of the Victory Medal automatically qualified for the British War Medal.
Those mentioned in despatches between 4 August 1914 and 10 August 1920 were entitled to wear a bronze oak leaf emblem on the ribbon of their Victory Medal. For those mentioned in despatches but not entitled to the Victory Medal, the oak leaf emblem was worn on the ribbon of their British War Medal. For those mentioned in despatches but not entitled to either the British War or Victory Medal, the oak leaf emblem was worn on their jacket.
The medals covered by the rolls are the 1914 Star, the Clasp to the 1914 Star, the 1914-15 Star, the British War Medal, and the Victory Medal. These records are a transcription of The National Archives document series ADM 171/89-93 (inclusive) and ADM 171/139, which comprise the complete First World War Campaign Medal Rolls for 53,000 officers of all branches of the Royal Navy. Added to the transcripts are service details for a large number of officers, particularly those killed in action or who died of wounds during the First World War, and in many cases, post-war deaths and Second World War deaths are noted.
Each officer's entry is linked to display the original Medal Roll page image. For recipients of the 1914 Star, two or more images are provided from the original handwritten 1914 Star Roll (ADM 171/139) and the later typewritten Rolls.
Known problems and errors
Aside from the Clasp entitlement already referred to, the compilation of such a large listing in the late 1920s, without the benefit of our modern computer aids, was an impressive task. It is, therefore, understandable that many errors and omissions crept in. All identified errors in names and ranks are corrected in the transcript, with an accompanying note of the error correction in the text notes. The medal entitlement column, however, is listed exactly as is given in the rolls, even if in error, and the correct medal entitlement is shown in the text notes.
Captain Roy Swales R.N. as representative of the Fleet Air Arm Museum, Yeovilton, who provided many hours of his time investigating and checking queries, thereby enabling accurate corrections in this project.
Mary Leong, of The National Archives, in providing a very efficient and conscientious service of document copying and supply.
Jack Marshall (C) 2010
Discover your Royal Marine and Royal Navy ancestors who were awarded medals for their service in the First World War. The records may reveal your relative’s rank and service number, as well as any awards your ancestor received. If your ancestor was killed in the line of duty, the records explain how and when your ancestor died. You may also discover if your ancestors deserted or forfeited their medals.
The records include The National Archives series ADM 171/139, which comprises the complete 1914 Star Medal issue rolls for the Royal Navy and Royal Marines. There are also service details for a large number of men, particularly those who were killed in action or who died of wounds during World War One. In many cases, post-war deaths and World War Two deaths are noted.
The records include the following branches:
Royal Naval Reserve
Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve
Royal Naval Air Service
Royal Naval Auxiliary Sick Berth Reserve
Royal Marine Light Infantry
Royal Marine Artillery
Royal Marine Band
The records also include civilian hospital staff and army officers, all of whom were associated or attached to the Royal Naval Division in 1914.
The medals covered in this record set are the 1914 Star, the Clasp to the 1914 Star, the 1914-15 Star, the British War Medal, and the Victory Medal.
Qualification for naval campaign medals
The 1914 Star was authorized in April 1917 and awarded to those who served in France and Belgium on the strength of a unit or service in either of those two countries between 5 August 1914 and midnight on 22/23 November 1914. Recipients of the 1914 Star automatically qualified for the British War and Victory Medals but were ineligible for the 1914-15 Star.
The Clasp to the 1914 Star was sanctioned by King George V in October 1919, to be awarded to all who had been under fire in France or Belgium between 5 August 1914 and midnight on 22/23 November 1914.
The 1914-15 Star was authorized in 1918 and awarded to those who saw active service between 5 August 1914 and 31 December 1915. Recipients of the 1914-15 Star automatically qualified for the British War and Victory Medals. Recipients of the 1914 Star were ineligible for the 1914-15 Star. The British War Medal was authorized in 1919 to mark the end of the First World War. The Admiralty differed from the War Office in their allowance for qualification to the British War Medal. The Admiralty granted the issue of the British War Medal to all ranks who had completed 28 days' mobilised service between 5 August 1914 and 11 November 1918. The Victory Medal was authorized in 1919 to commemorate the victory of the Allies over the Central Powers. It was awarded to all who embarked on active service at sea or on land in a Theatre of Operations between midnight 4/5 August 1914 and midnight 11/12 November 1918. Recipients of the Victory Medal automatically qualified for the British War Medal.
Discover if your ancestor received the highest military decoration for valour in the face of the enemy as a member of the armed forces in the British Commonwealth or Empire. Search through 1,350 recipients who fought in the Crimean, the Boer War, the Indian Mutiny, and both world wars, to name a few.
The Victoria Cross takes precedence over all other orders, decorations, and medals. Only 1,349 medals have been awarded.
Until the Crimean War, only senior officers were awarded medals for bravery. The assumption was that it was their leadership that drove the men on to victory. The Crimean War was the first major war to have war correspondents covering the action from the field. William Howard Russell, writing for The Times, wrote about the bravery of the common soldiers and pushed for this bravery to be formally recognised.
The idea took root and on 19 December 1854 the House of Commons decided that Queen Victoria should create a medal to recognise ‘distinguished and prominent personal gallantry’ from any rank from the highest to the lowest. Some of the military establishment were firmly against the idea, fearing that rank and file soldiers would break a formation just to take an opportunity to win the medal, but Prince Albert, the Queen’s husband, was very much in favour. It was he who suggested the name of the medal.
The medals are in the form of a bronze cross, a simple design that was rather unpopular at the time. The metal for these early medals, and many of the later ones, came from Chinese cannons captured by the Russians around 1855. Since the Second World War, the medal has been awarded only 14 times. These records are the copyright of Naval and Military Press.
Discover if your ancestor fought under the Duke of Wellington in the British Army in the Battle of Waterloo. The Waterloo Medal Roll has the names of almost 37,000 men who received the British Army’s first campaign medal after the decisive victory against Napoleon Bonaparte. The Waterloo Medal Roll holds the details of 36,852 men who served in all ranks of the British Army in the decisive battle against Napoleon.
The Waterloo Medal was the first military award issued by the British Government to every member of the British Army recorded in service at either the Battle of Ligny (16 June 1815), the Battle of Quatre Bras (16 June 1815), or the Battle of Waterloo. The medal was also the first to be issued to the families of soldiers killed in battle and to have the name of the soldier engraved around the edge.
The Battle of Waterloo ended Napoleon Bonaparte’s rule as French Emperor. Britain and her allies, led by the Duke of Wellington joined with the Prussian forces led by Gebhard von Blucher to defeat Napoleon’s army in Belgium. Of the 68,000 Anglo allied forces, there were 17,000 military casualties. The French suffered losses of 48,000 of which 8,000 were taken prisoner.
The Waterloo Medal was controversial. Some veteran Peninsular regiments, like the 43rd Light Infantry, had been sent to America in 1814 and arrived too late to take part in the Battle of Waterloo. The Waterloo forces were, therefore, made up of a mix of seasoned veteran regiments, recent new recruits, and foreign auxiliaries. There were 106,000 men in total, only one-third of the Anglo allied forces were British.
Many Peninsular veterans were aggrieved that raw recruits who had not served during the entire war should be so publically acknowledged while veterans who had undergone the labours and privations of the whole war missed out. Copyright Naval and Military Press
The information recorded in each record varies depending on the original record and the award type, this may affect your search results and what fields you use to search. For example, the Merchant Navy Medal Index Cards, 1914-1920 do not have service numbers because the Merchant Navy is not allocated with service numbers. Try searching only by your ancestor’s name and an approximate year, then begin to add more information by editing your search.
If you know your ancestor’s service number, you can use wildcards by putting a * in front of the number to return results with that number in it. For example, if you know the service number contains the digits 238, type *238 in the search box, and all service numbers containing those digits will be shown.