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Medals, Military Orders and Decorations are given to members of the armed forces to recognise and celebrate their personal accomplishments. Medal bars or clasps can be attached to the ribbon to indicate the operation for which the recipient received the award. Multiple bars on the same medal are used to recognise multiple achievements.
All military services use a common order of wear which basically dictates the order in which the recognised military decorations must be worn, and is shown below:
1. The Victoria Cross and the George Cross
2. United Kingdom Orders
3. United Kingdom Decorations
4. Order of St John (all classes)
5. United Kingdom Medals for Gallantry and for Distinguished Service
6. United Kingdom Operational Service Medals (including authorised United Nations Medals and Medals of other recognised International Organisations). Worn in order of date of award
7. United Kingdom Polar Medals
8. United Kingdom Police Medals for Valuable Service
9. United Kingdom Jubilee, Coronation and Durbar Medals
10. Long Service and Efficiency Awards
11. Commonwealth Orders, Decorations and Medals instituted by the Sovereign. Worn in order of date of award.
12. Commonwealth Orders, Decorations and Medals instituted since 1949 otherwise than by the Sovereign (including those of the States of Malaysia and the State of Brunei). Worn in order of date of award.
13. Foreign Orders. If approved for wear, worn in order of date of award.
14. Foreign Decorations. If approved for wear, worn in order of date of award.
15. Foreign Medals. If approved for wear, worn in order of date of award.
The most prestigious award in the United Kingdom honours system is the Victoria Cross (VC). The VC was introduced on 29th January 1856 by Queen Victoria to honour acts of valour during the Crimean War. Since then, the medal has been awarded to 1355 recipients who were awarded for gallantry ‘in the face of the enemy’. Only 11 medals have been awarded since the Second World War to members of the British Army.
As the Victoria Cross is rare and so highly prized, the medal has sold for over £400,000 at auction. Lord Ashcroft had a collection containing over one-tenth of all Victoria Cross medals and now stands on public display in the Imperial War Museum.
“A soldier will fight long and hard for a bit of coloured ribbon”
To View our range of medal ribbons click here.