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A Guide to British Campaign Medals of WW1

Five medals for campaign were offered to individuals who served in combat in the First World War. A person, whether either male or female, could be awarded the maximum of three of these awards, however there were a tiny few exceptions to this rules.

Medals of service were awarded at no cost to all rank, however, officers and their immediate relatives had to apply for their own. Medals were engraved by the initials of the person who received it and often included any (or all) of these details: service number or rank, initial name or first name surname, the military group (Regiment or Corps). It was usually placed inscribed on the rim of the medal or , in cases of stars it was on its reverse.

Alongside the five medals awarded for campaigning, WW1 badges were offered to both men and officers who were discharged with honor or retired due to injuries or sickness during wartime.

British Campaign Medal Sets

Pip, Squeak and Wilfred

Pip, Squeak and Wilfred are the names that have been affixed to three WW1 campaign medals – the 1914 Star, 1914 Star or 1914-15 Star, British War Medal and Victory Medal respectively. These medals were awarded primarily by the Old Contemptibles (B.E.F.). In general, the three of them are worn in the same sequence from the left side to be seen in front. The trio of medals, or at the very least, three medals, including the British War Medal and the Victory Medal are the most likely to be found in family and heirlooms.

In the time it was the time that the WW1 medals were first issued in the 1920’s , they were issued with a comic strip that was popular that was published through The Daily Mirror newspaper. The strip is written by Bertram J. Lamb (Uncle Dick) and was drawn by comic artist Austin Bowen Payne (A.B. Payne). Pip is the name of the dog. Squeak Penguin was the penguin, and Wilfred the rabbit. There is a belief that A. B. Payne’s Batman in the war was nicknamed “Pip-squeak” and that is where the concept to name the penguin and dog originated. Somehow, the trio of names came to be synonymous with the three campaign medals that were being awarded to a multitude of returning soldiers and they stayed.

“Mutt as well as Jeff”

Similar to the way that where only one of the British War Medal and Victory Medal are displayed together, they are often referred to in the form of “Mutt or Jeff”.

The 1914 Star

It was established in April 1917.

Also called ‘Pip’ or the Mons Star.

The bronze medal was approved by the King George V in April 1917 to those who been as soldiers in France and Belgium between the 5th August 1914 and midnight on November 22, 1914 inclusive. The award was available to both men and officers from their respective British as well as the Indian Expeditionary Forces, doctors and nurses, as in addition to Royal Navy, Royal Marines, Royal Navy Reserve and Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve who were ashore in the Royal Naval Division in France or Belgium.

A small horizontal bronze clasp that is sewn on the ribbon and bearing the dates 5th August. 22nd NOV. 1914′ indicates that the recipient actually been under the attack from the enemy during this time. In every 7 medals awarded without clasps there were five medals issued without the clasp.

Medal recipients who received it that came with a clasp allowed to add a small heraldic silver rose to the ribbon, even if the ribbon was on display.

The reverse is simple with the service number of the recipient name, rank, and unit engraved on it.

It is worth noting that those who received this medal helped the French to thwart the German army, while the new recruits were trained and equipped. In total, they deserve an enormous amount of respect for their role in the beginning in the Great War. It included battles at Mons and the retreat to the Seine and the battles of Le Cateau, the Marne and The Aisne and the opening Battle of Ypres. There were around 378,000 1914 Stars issued.

The 1914-15 Star

It was established in December 1918.

Also known as “Pip”.

The bronze medal was officially authorized in 1918. It’s very similar with the 1914 Star however it was awarded to a broader range of recipients. It was generally awarded to those who had served in war zones against Germany between the 5th of August 1914 until 31st December 1915, excluding those who were eligible to receive to receive the 1914 Star. In the same way, those who were awarded either the Africa General Service Medal or the Sudan 1910 Medal were not eligible for the award.

As with the 1914 Star like the 1914-15 Star was not given in isolation. The recipient was required to receive an award of the British War Medal and the Victory Medal. The reverse is simple with his service number, rank, name , and unit engraved on it.

A total of 2.4 millions of the medals awarded.

The British War Medal, 1914-18

It was established on the 26th of July 1919.

Also called “Squeak”.

The bronze or silver medal was given to the officers and men from the British and Imperial Forces who either entered an area of conflict or enlisted abroad between the 5th of August 1914 to the 11th of November, 1918. It became a second option to other services throughout Russia, Siberia and some other regions between 1919 and 1920.

Around 6.5 million War Medals of Britain were awarded. Around 6.4 million of them were silver versions of the medal. About 110,000 of the bronze version were awarded in the Chinese, Maltese and Indian Labour Corps. On the front (obv or the reverse) on the award features an image of the head and shoulders of George V.

The number of service along with the rank, name, and unit were engraved on the edge.

The Allied Victory Medal

Also called “Wilfred”

It was agreed to each allies would each award their own bronze victory medals with similar design, identical text and the same ribbon.

The British medal was created in the hands of W. McMillan. The front of the medal depicts an eagle-like classical figure, symbolizing victory.

About 5.7 million medals of victory were given out. The eligibility criteria for this award was more limited and not all who were awarded the British War Medal (‘Squeak’) was also awarded the Victory Medal (‘Wilfred’). In general the majority of recipients of ‘Wilfred also received the ‘Squeak’ award, and all recipients of the ‘Pip’ were awarded both the ‘Squeak’ as well as “Wilfred”.

The number of service along with the rank, name and unit was engraved on the edge.

The Territorial Force War Medal, 1914-1919

The institute was established on the 26th of April, 1920.

Members of only the Territorial Force and Territorial Force Nursing Service were qualified for this award. The recipient must be a member of the Territorial Force on or before the 30th September 1914, and also must have served in an operational theater of war that was not in within the United Kingdom between 5th August 1914 to the 11th of November, 1918. A person who was eligible for the 1914 Star or the 1914/15 Star 1914 Star or 1914/15 Star would not be eligible for the Territorial War Medal.

The reverse (front) of this medal depicts an image of the King George V with the words”GEORGIVS BRITT OMM:REX ET INDIA I.M.P.

On the reverse, this medal bears it’s wordings TERRITORIAL WAR MEDAL centered around the rim. It is adorned with laurel wreaths and words in the wreath that stand for the VOLUNTARY SERVICE FOR OVERSEAS 1914-1919.

About 34,000 Territorial Force War Medals were awarded.

It’s the Silver War Badge

The Silver War Badge was issued on the 12th of September, 1916.

The badge was originally given to men and officers who had been dismissed or retired from the army because of injuries or illness due to their war service. In April 1918, the eligibility was expanded to include civilians working for the Royal Army Medical Corps, female nurses, staff, and aid workers.

On the rim of this badge was a inscription “For the King and Empire Services Rendered”. It was later referred to by this reason as well known as “Services Rendered Badge”. The badges were also made with a unique number on the reverseof the badge, however, this number isn’t directly related to the person’s Service Number.

The recipient also received an official certificate along in addition to the badge. The badge was made from Sterling silver, and was designed for wear on right-hand breasts of the recipient’s civilian attire. It was not allowed to be placed on a uniform of the military.

The total number of Silver War Badges issued was around 1,150,000. Silver War Badges issued in total to soldiers in the First World War service.

Mercantile Marine War Medal

The medal was first awarded in 1919.

The Board of Trade awarded this campaign medal, called the Mercantile Marine War Medal, to those who been within the Merchant Navy and who had been on a journey through the danger or war zone during the conflict of 1914-1918.

It was a round bronze medal. It measured 1.42 inches wide and a quarter inch thick. On the reverse (front) the coin had an image depicting King George V facing to the left, with the words GEORGIVS V . BRITT The inscription read: OMN: REX ET IND: Impression:.

On the reverse, this medal features an edging of laurel around the rim, with images of a ship in a stormy sea, with a submarine of the enemy and an old sailing ship just to just to the left of the vessel. The inscription on the reverse of the medal is for the War Service/Mercantile Marine 1914-1918.

Its width (1.25 inches long) can be seen as green left, and it is red to the left, with a an elongated white line in the middle between the two. The red and green colours of the ribbon are the port and starboard lighting of a vessel while the central white color is a representation of the masthead’s steaming light.

133,135 Mercantile War Medals were presented.