The Medals They Won

There were five Campaign Medals available for individuals who saw service in the First World War. Service medals were issued automatically to 'the ranks' but officers or their next of kin had to apply for them. These medals were impressed with the name of the recipient, either on the rim or in the case of a star, on the reverse. There were also Gallantry Medals awarded for outstanding deeds of bravery.

The British War Medal

The silver British War Medal was awarded to officers and men who had entered a theatre of war between 5th August 1914 and 11th November 1918. Approximately 6.5 million were issued.The front (obverse) of the medal depicts the head of George V.

The Allied Victory Medal

Depicting a classical winged victory figure, 5.7 million bronze Victory Medals were issued at the end of WWI. The recipient's service number, rank, name and unit was impressed on the rim.

The 1914-15 Star

This bronze medal was awarded to all who had served in the war against Germany between 5th August 1914 and the end of 1915. It is similar to the '1914 Star' issued earlier to those who had served in France or Belgium in the first 4 months of the war. The '1914-15 Star' was issued to a much wider range of service personnel, recognising the particular hardships involved in stopping the German advance into France.

British Campaign Medal Set – 'Pip, Squeak and Wilfred'

The three WWI campaign medals – the British War Medal, the Allied Victory Medal and the Star were normally awarded together and by convention were worn together in the same order. This set of three medals are the most likely to be found in family heirlooms.

 

The affectionate name given by the troops to this set of three medals was 'Pip, Squeak and Wilfred' after a popular comic strip in the Daily Mirror.

The Territorial Force War Medal, 1914 – 1919

Members of the Territorial Force (such as the Warwickshire Yeomanry) and Territorial Force Nursing were eligible for this medal. The reverse has a laurel wreath with the words, 'For Voluntary Service Overseas 1914-1919'. 34,000 of these medals were issued after the war.

The Silver War Badge

Known as the 'Services Rendered Badge' because of the wording on the front, the silver badge was issued to men who were discharged or retired from the military forces as a result of injury or sickness. It later included civilians serving with the Army Medical Corps, nurses and aid workers. There were about 1,150,000 Silver War Badges issued for WWI service.

The Victoria Cross (VC)

The highest gallantry award in the UK, the VC has been awarded for outstanding acts of valour in the presence of the enemy since the mid 19th century. We believe that one of the names on the Warwick War Memorial was awarded the Victoria Cross posthumously. The VC is now a highly prized collectors' item. One has sold for $400,000.

Distinguished Service Order (DSO)

The DSO was introduced by Queen Victoria as an award for officers engaged in combat. In World War I nearly 9,000 were awarded the DSO. It is an elegant silver-gilt cross enamelled white and edged with gold.

The Military Cross (MC)

The award of this silver cross was instituted in December 2014 for Commissioned Officers and Warrant Officers. It is a high-level military decoration for bravery in the presence of the enemy. Several of the Warwick fallen were awarded the MC posthumously.

The Distinguished Conduct Medal

The Distinguished Conduct Medal (DCM) is the oldest British award for gallantry, instituted during the Crimean War for Warrant Officers, Non-Commissioned Officers and men for "distinguished, gallant and good conduct in the field". For all ranks below commissioned officers, it was the second highest award for gallantry in action after the Victoria Cross, and the other ranks' equivalent of the DSO for officers.

During the First World War, the concern arose that the overwhelming number of medals which were being awarded would devalue the prestige of those already awarded. The Military Medal for bravery in battle on land was therefore instituted in March 1916, as an alternative award to the DCM. The Military Medal was usually awarded for bravery from this date and the Distinguished Conduct Medal was reserved for exceptional acts of bravery. About 25,000 DCMs were awarded during the First World War.

The Military Medal

This medal (MM) was awarded to 'other ranks' including non-commissioned officers (NCOs) and warrant officers of the British and Commonwealth forces for acts of bravery during WWI. The reverse has the inscription, 'For Bravery in the Field'.

Introduced on 1916 and awarded retrospectively from 1914, it was later extended to women who showed bravery under fire. It ranked below the Distinguished Conduct Medal (DCM); about five times as many MMs were awarded.

The Memorial Plaque

The next of kin of all those who died in the First World War were sent a bronze Memorial Plaque. It became known colloquially as The Dead Man's Penny, Death Penny, or Widow's Penny, because of its resemblance to the old penny, though it was much larger, (four and a half inches in diameter).

It has an image of Britannia holding a trident standing next to a lion, with the words 'He died for freedom and honour' and the individual's name engraved in a frame. 1,355,000 of these plaques were issued.

There are impressive displays of medals in the Warwickshire Yeomanry Museum in the Court House, and the Fusilier Museum in St. John's House.