Search 6.5 million records of men and women awarded campaign medals for overseas service in the Great War.
The amount of information listed varies, depending upon service and medal entitlement, but the records usually include the following information about your ancestor:
Disembarkation date (when arrived in a theatre of war) – included mainly for service in 1914/15
Regiment or other unit
Medals (and any clasps) awarded
Theatre of war – included mainly for service in 1914/15
Other information such as battalion (for infantry), previous Great War service (units and service numbers) and whether demobilized or killed in action
Personnel are listed under the unit in which they were serving at the time they became entitled to the medal(s). Note that you may find two or more entries relating to the same individual.
This record set contains approximately 6.5 million records covering an estimated 4.6 million soldiers (and others) and entitlement to about 10.9 million campaign medals. Other ranks (non-commissioned officers and soldiers) were awarded their medals automatically, whereas commissioned officers had to claim the medals to which they were entitled. The record set includes, among others, the Royal Flying Corps (Royal Air Force), medical personnel and labourers as well as soldiers in the British Army. Campaign medals were those awarded for participation in the Great War (rather than those awarded for gallantry). These include the following:
1914 Star – awarded for service in France & Flanders between 4 Aug 1914 and 22 Nov 1914. The medal was struck in bronze and awarded to approximately 378,000 service personnel. A clasp could be claimed.
1914-15 Star – awarded for service in France & Flanders between 23 Nov 1914 and 31 Dec 1915 (and for service in other theatres of war between 4 Aug 1914 and 31 Dec 2015) to those not already in receipt of the 1914 Star. The medal was struck in bronze and awarded to an estimated 2.36 million service personnel. There is no clasp.
British War Medal – awarded for service between 5 Aug 1914 and 11 Nov 1918 (but later extended to include operations in Russia up to 1920). Eligibility extended beyond the Army per se to, for example, nursing staff and personnel in NGOs such as the British Red Cross operative in theatres of war. The standard issue medal was silver (about 6.5 million), but a lesser quantity (around 110,000) were bronze (awarded to those in the Chinese, Indian and Maltese Labour Corps). There is no clasp.
Victory Medal – awarded for service between 5 Aug 1914 and 11 Nov 1918 (but later extended to include operations in Russia up to 1920). As with the British War Medal, eligibility included nursing and auxiliary staff. The medal was struck in bronze, and around 5.725 million were issued. There is no clasp.
Territorial Forces Medal – more formally, the Allied Subjects’ Medal. Awarded for service in the Territorial Force and Territorial Force Nursing Service who volunteered to serve overseas and did serve overseas between 5 Aug 1914 and 11 Nov 1918. Just under 34,000 medals were issued. The medal was struck in bronze. There is no clasp.
Prisoner of War Helpers Medal – more formally, the Allied Subjects’ Medal. Awarded in gratitude to foreign nationals who assisted British and Allied PoWs behind enemy lines between Aug 1914 and Nov 1918. Issued in both silver and bronze, although in a greater number of cases an official letter of thanks was issued in lieu of a medal. Under 2,000 issued.
The combination of a 1914 Star or a 1914-15 Star with a British War Medal and a Victory Medal was known as Pip, Squeak and Wilfred.
The combination of a British War Medal and a Victory Medal was known as Mutt and Jeff.
References to the Mons Star are to the 1914 Star.
The records are taken from the 1914-1920 medal rolls held at The National Archives under archive reference WO 329. These are regarded as a primary source being more complete, providing greater detail and containing fewer errors than the secondary source – the well-known medal index cards in WO 372 – created from them and meant as an index to them.
Disembarkations up to 31 December 1915
1 - Western Europe
2 - Balkan Theatre
2a - Greek Macedonia, Serbia & Bulgaria
2b - Gallipoli & Aegean Islands
3 - Egyptian Theatre
4 - African Theatre
4a - British East Africa, German East Africa, Rhodesia, Nyasaland & Uganda
4b - German South West Africa
4c - Kamerun (Cameroon)
4d - Togoland
4e - Caprivi Zipfel Rhodesia
5 - Asiatic Theatre
5a - Mesopotamia & Bushire
5b - South West Arabia
5c - Aden
5d - Muscat (Musquat)
5e - Seistan
5f - Tochi Valley
5g - Hafiz
5h - Katlang, Rastam & Swati
5i - Landekai Ridge
5j - Perim
5k - Kalat
5l - Katchin Hills
5m - Tsing-Tau
6 - Australasian Theatre
6a - German New Guinea
6b - Nauru
6c - German Samoa
Disembarkations on and after 1 January 1916
1A - France and Belgium
1B - Italy
2A - Greek Macedonia, Serbia, Bulgaria or European Turkey
2B - Gallipoli
3 - Russia (up to 1/2 July 1920)
4A - Egypt (up to 18/19 March 1916)
4B - Egypt (from 18/19 March 1916)
5A - East Africa, Nyasaland and Northern Rhodesia
5B - South West Africa
5C - Cameroon
5D - Nigeria
5E - Togoland
6A - Hejaz
6B - Mesopotamia
6C - Persia
6D - Trans-Caspia
6E - South West Arabia
6F - Aden
6G - Frontier regions of India
6H - Tsing-tau
7A - New Britain
7B - New Ireland
7C - Kaiser Wilhelmland
7D - Admiralty Islands
7E - Nauru
7F - German Samoa