Defence Medal

Having largely ignored medals up until now, I have increased my collection of British medals by 60% in the last couple of weeks. After the France and Germany Star we looked at last week, tonight we have the Defence Medal. Again this was a cheap find on Huddersfield second hand market as the ribbon and the suspension bar were missing. A pound on a new ribbon and a bit of scrap wire and the medal was soon back in shape…imageThe medal itself is made of Cupro Nickel, with a bar suspended above. The obverse shows King George VI:imageThe reverse has the medals description ‘THE DEFENCE MEDAL’ at the bottom, with the dates 1939 and 1945 and the crown above an oak sapling, flanked by a lion and lioness all above the waves:imageThe ribbon of the medal is green for the green and pleasant land of Great Britain with a broad orange stripe for the flames of the blitz and two narrow black stripes for the blackout:untitledThis is a very common medal, issued to many different military and civilian personnel and there were many criteria for award:

Military personnel

In the United Kingdom this included military personnel working in headquarters, on training bases and airfields for the duration of the War in Europe from 3 September 1939 to 8 May 1945, and service by members of the Home Guard during its existence from 14 May 1940 to 31 December 1944. The medal was also awarded for non-operational service overseas in the Dominions of the British Commonwealth, India and the Colonies.

Those who qualified for the award of any one of the Campaign Stars could be awarded the Defence Medal in addition, and the subsequent award of one of the Campaign Stars did not supersede a previous award of the Defence Medal.[1]

Civilian services

Eligible civilian service in the United Kingdom included, but was not confined to, civilian services whose members were eligible for Chevrons for war service.

  • Civil Defence services established by a Government Department or Local Authority.
    • Wardens Service, including Shelter Wardens.
    • Rescue Service, including former First-Aid Party Service.
    • Decontamination Service.
    • Report and Control Service.
    • Messenger Service.
    • Ambulance Service. including Sitting Case Cars.
    • First-Aid Service, including First-Aid Posts and Points, Public Cleansing Centres, Mobile Cleansing Units and the Nursing Service for public air-raid shelters.
  • Local Authority Civil Defence Services.
    • Rest Centre Service.
    • Emergency Food Service, including the Queen’s Messenger Convoy Service.
    • Canteen Service.
    • Emergency Information Service.
    • Mortuary Service.
  • National Fire Service, including service in a local authority Fire Brigade or the Auxiliary Fire Service prior to nationalisation.
  • The Police, Royal Marine Police Special Reserve, Admiralty Civil Police, War Department Constabulary, Air Ministry Constabulary, Railway Police and Dock Police.
  • American Ambulance, Great Britain.
  • Civil Air Transport.
  • Civil Defence Reserve, Kent County Civil Defence Mobile Reserve and West Sussex County Civil Defence Mobile Reserve.
  • Civil Nursing Reserve.
  • Civilian Technical Corps.
  • Coast Guard.
  • Fire Guards who performed duties under the local authorities, or at Government or business premises.
  • Lighthouse keepers who served under the three Lighthouse Authorities and keepers of Light-Vessels under those authorities, who did not qualify for the 1939-1945 Star.
  • Nurses in hospitals for which Government Departments or local authorities were responsible, or in the recognised Voluntary hospitals.
  • Port of London Authority River Emergency Service.
  • Clyde River Patrol.
  • Royal Observer Corps.
  • Women’s Voluntary Services for Civil Defence, whose members could qualify provided:
    • They were enrolled in an eligible local authority Civil Defence Service.
    • They performed duties analogous to those of one of the eligible local authority Civil Defence Services and the section of the Women’s Voluntary Services to which they belonged was one which functioned operationally during or immediately after enemy attacks.

Qualifying service

The length of qualifying service required for the award of the Defence Medal varied, depending on where and in what role an individual served.

  • For persons normally resident in the United Kingdom, the requirement was 1,080 days (three years) of service in the United Kingdom or 90 days (three months) of service in a Mine and Bomb Disposal Unit. The qualifying period in the United Kingdom ended upon the end of the War in Europe on 8 May 1945.
  • In a non-operational area which was not subjected to air attack and which was not closely threatened, the requirement was 360 days (one year) of service overseas from or outside the individual’s country of residence. Military service overseas from the United Kingdom could qualify up to 2 September 1945 when the war in the Pacific ended. Service was reckonable from the date of embarkation and was counted at its full rate for the voyage to the non-operational area.
  • In a non-operational area subjected to air attack or closely threatened, the requirement was 180 days (six months) of service overseas from or outside a person’s country of residence. The same applied to British Commonwealth citizens from overseas who served in the Home Guard in the United Kingdom. Service was reckonable from the date of embarkation and, for the voyage to the area of service, was counted at half the actual duration of the voyage

4 thoughts on “Defence Medal

  1. Pingback: Tales from the Supply Depot Collecting British Empire Militaria | Karnataka Civil Defence ಸಿವಿಲ್ ಡಿಫೆನ್ಸ್ – an automated blog for Civil Defence

  2. Pingback: Miniature Defence Medal | Tales from the Supply Depot

  3. Pingback: Chief Petty Officer’s Uniform Jacket | Tales from the Supply Depot

  4. Pingback: India Service Medal 1939-1945 | Tales from the Supply Depot

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