Military Wiki
Defence Medal
Defence Medal BAR.svg
Obverse (top left) and reverse (top right) of the medal
with ribbon (bottom)
Awarded by UK and Commonwealth
Type Campaign medal
Eligibility British and Commonwealth forces
Awarded for Campaign service
Campaign Second World War 1939-45.
Description Cupro-nickel or silver disk, 36mm diameter.
Clasps None
Established 16 August 1945
Related War Medal 1939–1945

The Defence Medal was a campaign medal of the British Commonwealth, awarded for service in World War II. It was instituted to recognise both military and some types of civilian service.

This type of service in the UK includes, but is not confined to, those civilian personnel who worked as members of:

The qualifying time required depending on the area served is:

  • UK - 1080 days
  • Overseas non-operational - 360 days
  • Overseas non-operational in an area deemed to be closely threatened or subject to air attack -180 days


  • A circular, silver (.800 fine) medal, 36mm in diameter. The British issue medals were made of cupro-nickel.
  • The obverse shows the bareheaded effigy of King George VI, facing left, and the legend: GEORGIVS VI D:G:BR:OMN:REX F:D:IND:IMP: (George 6th, by the grace of god, king of all the Britains, defender of the faith, emperor of India)
  • On the reverse, the Royal Crown rests on the stump of an oak tree, flanked by a lion and a lioness. At the top left is the date 1939, and at the top right, the date 1945. The base of the medal has the words 'THE DEFENCE/MEDAL' in two lines.
  • The ribbon is flame coloured in the centre flanked by stripes of green to symbolise enemy attacks on Britain's green and pleasant land, with narrow black stripes to represent the black-out.


  • If you served either full-time or part-time for not less than 3 years in the United Kingdom during the period of active hostilities in Europe between September 1939 and May 1945 in any of the categories listed in section below.
  • If service in any of these categories was brought to an end before the period of 3 years’ service had been completed by injuries entitling you to a Wound Stripe. (If death occurred due to enemy action when on duty, next of kin may apply for the Defence Medal)
  • If, without regard to the 3-year requirement, you received an Honours, Decoration or Medal or King’s Commendation for brave conduct or King’s Commendation for valuable service in the air, which was published in the London Gazette, provided that when the Award or King’s Commendation was earned, you were serving in a category eligible for the Defence Medal and that the distinction was granted in respect of service qualifying for the Defence Medal;
  • If you undertook non-operational service in the Force overseas from or outside the country of residence. The time qualification is 1 year overseas, reduced to 6 months in those areas considered closely threatened or subjected to air attack. Such time amounting to less than a year, or 6 months as the case may be, may be added at its actual time value to service of less than 3 years at home;
  • If you served for 3 months in a Mine and Bomb disposal unit.
  • Service in the various eligible categories may be added together providing the periods of service were not undertaken at the same time.

Categories of Entitlement

1. Ex-member of the Armed Force or of the Women’s Military Auxiliary Services.

2. Home Guard

3. Medical Services (overseas)

  • Joint War Organisation of British Red Cross
  • Society and the Order of St John of Jerusalem
  • Chartered Physiotherapists
  • (British Red Cross Society)
  • American Field Service

4. Philanthropic Bodies (Overseas)

  • Army Scripture Readers’ Association
  • Catholic Women’s League
  • Christian Scientists (Officiating Minister).
  • Christian Scientists Welfare Workers( Librarians and Secretaries )
  • Church Army
  • Church of England Soldiers’,Sailors’ and Airmen’s Institute
  • Church of Scotland.
  • Hibbert House
  • Incorporated Soldiers’, Sailors’ and Airmen’s Help Society
  • Methodist and United Board Churches
  • Mission to Mediterranean Garrisons.
  • Salvation Army.
  • Soldiers’, Sailors’ and Airmen’s’Families Association
  • Toc H
  • Young Men’s Christian Association
  • Young Women’s Christian Association

5. Voluntary Societies under the Council of British Society for Relief Abroad

  • Catholic Committee for Relief Abroad
  • Guide International Relief Service
  • International Voluntary Service for Peace
  • Jewish Committee for Relief Abroad
  • Joint War Organisation of the British Red Cross Society and the Order of St John of Jerusalem.
  • Salvation Army
  • Save the Children Fund, Registered Charity
  • Scout International Relief Service
  • World Student Relief ( also known as International Student Service) ( London Committee).
  • Young Women’s Christian Association.

6. N.A.A.F.I. ( Overseas)

  • N.A.A.F.I.Women’s Voluntary Service
  • Civilian Uniformed Employees.
  • Entertainment National Service Association

7. Other Organisations and independent members ( Overseas)

  • Allied Expeditionary Force Club
  • Army Schoolmistresses, Malta.
  • Assistant Commissioners H.M Forces war Savings Committee
  • Civil Defence Service Overseas Column
  • Interpreters
  • National Fire Service Overseas Column
  • Technical Representative Civilian . R.E.M.E
  • Telecom Personnel (Cable and Wireless Ltd
  • War Correspondents including Americans who served between 3/9/39 and 8/12/41 inclusive
  • War Office King’s Messengers
  • Women’s Voluntary Service A.W.S.
  • Women’s Transport Service A.W.S.
  • Women’s Transport Service F.A.N.Y.Special Parties.

8. Civil Defence Warden service including Shelter Warden

9. Civil Defence Rescue Service, including former First Aid Party Services, or in London, Stretcher Party Services

10. Civil Defence Decontamination Service

11. Civil Defence Report and Control Service

12. Civil Defence Messenger Service.

13. Civil Defence Ambulance Service including sitting Case Cars.

14. Civil Defence First Aid Service, including First Aid Posts and Points. Public Cleaning Centres. Mobile Cleaning Units and the Nursing Service for public air-raid shelters.

15. Civil Defence Gas Identification Service.

16. Rest Centre Service.

17. Emergency Food Services including Queen’s Messenger Convoy Services

18. Canteen Services.

19. Administration and Information Centre Services not Ministry of Information Services

20. Mortuary Services

21. Fire guards

  • who performed duties under a local authority in any areas where the establishment of a fire guard organisation was compulsory or was approved by the Regional Commissioner in Northern Ireland, the Ministry responsible being service which was qualifying service for the award of Chevrons for war services
  • including civil defence and Fire brigade personnel who performed duties at government or business premises under arrangements made under the Fire Guard Business and Government Premises Order 1943, or any previous provision or under the corresponding Order in Northern Ireland being service which was qualifying service for the award of Chevron for war service

22. E.N.S.A (Entertainments National Service Association)

23. Women’s Voluntary Service for Civil Defence

  • being members who were eligible for war service red chevrons by reasons that they performed on behalf of a local authority duties analogous to those, of the eligible local authority civil defence services, and were engaged in a section of the W.V.S, which had,or would have had, operational functions during or immediately after enemy Reserve.. authorities, who do not qualify for the W.V.S members who were enrolled members of one of the eligible local authority services should apply as laid down for categories 8 - 19 above.

24. Civil Nursing Reserve.

25. Nurses or Midwives in hospitals for which Government Department or Local Authorities are responsible, or in the recognised voluntary hospitals

26. National Fire Services including services in a local authority Fire Brigade or the Auxiliary Fire Services prior to nationalisation.

27. Police Regular Police, First Police Reserve, Police War Reserve, Women’s Auxiliary Police Corps, Police Auxiliary Messenger Service, Special Constabulary.

28. Royal Marine Police Special Reserve..

29. Admiralty Civil Police.

30. War Department Constabulary.

31. Air Ministry Constabulary.

32. Railway and Dock Police

33. Civil Defence Services set up by Railway Dock authority and Canal Undertakings

34. American Ambulance. Great Britain

35. Civil Air Transport, Air crew only

36. Air Transport Auxiliary, Air crew only

37. Civil Defence Reserve

38. Kent County Civil Defence Mobile Reserve

39. West Sussex County Civil Defence Mobile attacks

40. Coast Guard

41. Civil Servants forming departmental Civil Defence organisations

42. Lighthouse keepers who served under the three general lighthouse Authorities, and keepers of Light Vessel under those authority, who do not qualify for the 1939 - 45 Star

43. Port of London Authority River Emergency Service

44. Clyde River Patrol.

45. Royal Observer Corps.

46. Volunteer Stretcher Bearers Emergency Hospital Scheme

47. Male Orderlies in Casualty Evacuation Trains Emergency Medical Service

48. Emergency Information Officers and their helpers( who served under the Ministry of Information, and including Deputy E.I.Os.Announcers, Drivers, and Messengers, if engage in a section of the Service which had, operational functions during or immediately after enemy attack.

49. R.A.F. Education Officers serving in the United Kingdom

50. Enrolled lifeboat men R.N.L.I. who do not qualify for the 1939 - 45 Star.

See also



  • Mackay, J and Mussel, J (eds) - Medals Yearbook - 2006, (2005), Token Publishing.
  • Joslin, Litherland, and Simpkin (eds), British Battles and Medals, (1988), Spink

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