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How to Identify British World War I Ribbons and Medals

Updated on June 30, 2012

World War I Campaign Medals

From 1914-1918, the world was at war, man against man in the most severe and bloodiest war that the world had ever seen, The casualty figures were obscene and the conditions in which the soldiers lived and fought were barbaric to say the least.

From the trenches of the western front to Gallipoli, Mesopotamia, the campaigns in East Africa, Italy and Salonika, men fought and died in atrocious conditions.

Soldiers who fought in the campaigns of World War I were awarded medals, as a thank you from their Governments, a memento, a symbol of pride and as a reminder of their fallen colleagues.

The 1914 Star

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1919 STAR RIBBON | Source

British Campaign Medals and Ribbons WW I

WW I campaign medals were awarded to soldiers who served in battle against the common enemy; British campaign medals were also awarded to members of the British Commonwealth such as Australia who also fought in the campaigns of World War I.

The 1914 Star Medal (Mons Star)

The 1914 Star was awarded to the original British Expeditionary force and their reinforcements, who went into Belgium and France in the first few days of The Great War. It was awarded mainly to British soldiers and Royal Marines who served in the opening campaigns on the Western Front; most famous of these was the "Retreat to Mons" in August 1914.

The 1914 Star was awarded for service between the dates 4Th August 1914, the same day Britain declared war on Germany, and 22nd of November 1914. Although there was fighting in other theatres this medal was only awarded to those serving on the Western Front.

The Ribbon of blue, red and white represents the French Flag.

Those who received this award also received the British war medal and the Victory medal.

The 1914-1915 Star


The 1914-1915 Star

The 1914-1915 Star is one of the most common campaign medals awarded to service personnel for World War I. All British, Commonwealth forces air, naval, and army who served in any theatre of war on land or sea received the 1914-1915 star. Nurses and some civilians also received this medal.

Service personnel who had already won the 1914 star were not entitled to this medal although they were awarded a bronze star to represent that they had served in both campaigns.

Recipients of the 1914-1915 star were also awarded the British war medal and the Victory medal.

The ribbon has the red white and blue colours of the Empire, in shaded and watered stripes.

The British War Medal 1914-1918


The British War Medal 1914-1918

The British war medal was the most common award for WWI, awarded to all forces of the British Empire and given to anyone who had served in uniform or had a part in approved service.

The medal was also awarded to non-combatant personnel and to foreign citizens who rendered service for the allied cause.

Although the war medal is dated 1914-1918, it was also awarded to British forces who were involved in the allied intervention of the Russian Civil War between 1918-1920.

The Ribbon colors are believed to have no special significance.

The Victory Medal


The Victory Medal 1914-1919

Often called the Allied Victory Medal because all allied nations agreed to issue a standard medal and ribbon to their forces to avoid a mass exchange of medals between them. The Victory medal is similar to that of Japan, America, France, Belgium and the other allied countries.

The Victory Medal was issued with any of the other campaign medals to any personnel who served in the theatre of war.

Dated 1914-1919 the victory medal included the allied intervention in the Russian Civil War.

The rainbow ribbon denotes all the colors of the allied flags.

The Territorail War medal

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The Territorail War medal ribbon
The Territorail War medal ribbon
The Territorail War medal ribbon | Source

The Territorial Forces War Medal 1914-1919

The Territorial forces medal is the rarest campaign medal of WWI, only 34000 were ever issued by the British Government.

Awarded to territorial soldiers who served before September 1914, on duties out with the United Kingdom, for those who never participated in battle the British War medal was awarded with the territorial forces medal, and for those who had service in battle the Victory medal was awarded.

The Ribbon is yellow with two green stripes.

The Mercantile Marine Medal

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The Mercantile Marine Medal 1919-1918

The Mercantile Marine medal was awarded to the brave sailors of the merchant navy in World War I for their dedication and the importance of the role they played of keeping supplies flowing into Britain, the medal was awarded to any merchant seaman who served on ships in designated war zones.

The green and red colours of the ribbon represent the starboard and port running lights of a ship with the centre white colour being representative of the masthead steaming light.

Dead Mans Penny

The Memorial Plaque, nicknamed the dead mans penny.
The Memorial Plaque, nicknamed the dead mans penny. | Source

The Memorial Plaque

The memorial plaque was awarded to the next of kin of fallen soldiers, who died in the field of battle through illness, accident or from their wounds. At home or abroad.

Although not a campaign medal it is worthy of a mention here, because the families who received this award had brothers, fathers or sons who died in one of the many campaigns of World War I.

This bronze medallion was awarded up until 1921, and to next of kin to those who fought and died for Britain’s allies.


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    • angela_michelle profile image

      Angela Michelle Schultz 5 years ago from United States

      Wow these are awesome! Do you own any of these? Are you a collector or just a dreamer?

    • chrissieklinger profile image

      chrissieklinger 5 years ago from Pennsylvania

      Interesting hub. I had never heard of the dead man's penny....very interesting. What do countries give now to families of fallen soldiers? I think in the USA they just give a flag but maybe they give something else.

    • nakmeister profile image

      nakmeister 5 years ago from Lancaster, UK

      A very interesting hub, not something I know much about. I don't remember ever seeing any, but I guess there are still a lot about.