The British War Medal, 1914-18

The British War Medal, 1914-18 was instituted on 26 July 1919 and was awarded to cover operations between 5 August 1914 and 11 November 1918. The basic qualification was service in any of the three armed services, any Imperial formation or in certain voluntary organisations during World War One. It was later amended to cover post-war mine clearance at sea, in addition to service in north and south Russia, the eastern Baltic, Siberia, the Black Sea and the Caspian Sea.

The British War Medal bears the coinage head of King George V on its obverse, with the legend ‘GEORGIUS V : BRITT : OMN : REX ET IND : IMP’. On the reverse is St. George on horseback, trampling underfoot the Prussian eagle shield of the Central Powers with a skull and crossbones; at the top is a rising sun. The years “1914” and “1918” appear on the perimeter in the left and right fields respectively. The medal hangs by a clasp from an orange watered ribbon with stripes of white and black on each side and royal blue borders.

Approximately 6.5 million British War Medals cast from silver were issued following the First World War, with a further 110,000 in bronze issued to Chinese, Maltese and Indian Labour Corps and all issues have impressed naming in small block capitals. Consideration was given to the award of clasps to commemorate certain battles and theatres of operations, however, the idea was eventually abandoned.