British campaign medals are fascinating pieces of history.  With the exception of some WWII issues they are each named to the recipient and identify his or her unit.  This is by no means a complete suite of medals issued during this period, but a good representation of the late Victorian and WWI era issues.

British Medals

Boer War through WWI

The seargent above is wearing ribbons representing the War and Victory Medals.

The 1914 Star, left, was issued for service between 5 August 1914 and midnight 22/23 November 1914.  It is commonly referred to as the Mons Star because the majority of recipients were involved in the retreat from Mons, France.  Approximately 378,000 medals were issued.

At the close of WWI the allied countries issued a victory medal with the common design of a winged liberty on a rainbow ribbon.  The British government was one of 18 countries to issue this medal.  All Commonwealths and Dominions issued the same design with the exception of South Africa.  The reverse of the South African victory medal is in English and Africans.


The Great War to end all Wars fought from 1914 to 1918  generated 5 British campaign medals.  No one person could have more than three medals for this conflict, however I have read that there are rare exceptions to this rule.

The Boer Wars were fought in South Africa between the British and Dutch settlers in 1880-1881 and 1899-1902.  The second conflict generated two  campaign awards:  the Queen's South Africa and King's South Africa medals.  Upon the death of Queen Victoria in 1901 her successor King Edward VII authorized the King's South Africa medal.  The King's medal was always issued with the Queen's medal with the exception of about 600 that were issued to nursing sisters.  There were 26 bars issues for the  Queen's medal and 2 for the King's. (Robert W. Gould, 1982)

Boer War

Naming on reverse of WWI Victory and War Medals

My Cool Old Stuff

The Mons Star Trio and the 1914-1915 Star trio were commonly called the "Pip, Squeak, and Wilfred" by First World War veterans.  The name comes from a characters in a comic popular at the time.  On the left is a Mons Star (1914 Star) Trio named to                 19649 PTE. H. Bryant R.A.M.C. 

The trio below left is a South African grouping named to 2483 GNR. F.C. Standidge  S.A HVY Artillery.  The Victory Medal is South African issue and is in English and Africans.


The Mercantile Marine Medal was issued by the United Kingdom's Board of Trade to members of the Merchant Navy for one or more voyages through a danger or war zone during WWI.  Total medals issued were 133,135.

The British War Medal was issued to officers and enlisted personnel who served in a theater of war or who entered overseas service between 5 August 1914 and 11 November 1918.  Approximately 6.4 million silver medals were issued and an additional 110,000 bronze medals medals were issued to Indian and Chinese troops.  The bronze War Medal at left is named to No. 33465 Chinese L.C.

The Queen's and King's South Africa pair in my collection were issued to Private G. Sneade of the Cheshire Regiment.  Clasps on Private Snead's QSA medal are Johannesburg, Driefontein, Paardeberg, and Relief of Kimberly.  His KSA has the South Africa 1901 and South Africa 1902 clasps.

Naming on reverse of 1914 Star

The medal combination at left is one of my favorites.  It includes, from left, the Territorial Medal, War Medal, and Territorial Efficiency Medal.  The Territorial Medal is named to 889 CPL. W. Rundle R.E.  The War Medal to SGT 899 W. Rundle R.E.,  and the Territorial Efficiency Medal to 154289 SGT. W.B Rundle R.E.  The medals show a progression of rank trough Sargent Rundle's career.

Right is a court mounted War Medal and Mercantile Marine Medal pair issued to Samuel W. Marchant

This young Hussar is wearing ribbons for both the Queen's and Kings South Africa Medal.

The Territorial Force War Medal is the scarcest of the WWI campaign medals.   It was issued to members of the Territorial Force in service before         30 September 1914 and who served in an operational theater of war between 1914 and 1918.  Holders of the 1914 or 1914-1915 Star would not be awarded this medal.  Only 34,900 medals were awarded.

Right is the 1914-1915 Star which was authorized for service between 5 August and 31 December 1914 in various theaters of war.  Recipients of the 1914 Star could not receive the 1914-1915 Star.  Approximately                2, 366,000 1914-1915 Stars were issued.