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Military Cross
Military Cross.jpg
Military Cross
Awarded by United Kingdom and Commonwealth
Type Military decoration
Eligibility British, (formerly) Commonwealth, and allied forces
Awarded for ... gallantry during active operations against the enemy.[1]
Status Currently awarded
Description Silver cross with straight arms, Royal Cypher in centre (obverse)
(reverse) plain
Established 28 December 1914
Next (higher) Conspicuous Gallantry Cross
Equivalent Distinguished Service Cross, Distinguished Flying Cross
Next (lower) Mention in Despatches
Military cross BAR.svg

Military cross w bar BAR.svg

Military cross w 2bars BAR.svg

Ribbon of the Military Cross; without, with bar, and with two bars

Albert Jacka's Military Cross and bar. Gazetted in 1916, the Cross displays the royal cypher of George V.

The Military Cross (MC) is the third-level military decoration awarded to officers and (since 1993) other ranks of the British Armed Forces; and formerly also to officers of other Commonwealth countries. The MC is granted in recognition of "an act or acts of exemplary gallantry during active operations against the enemy on land to all members, of any rank in Our Armed Forces…".[2] In 1979, the Queen approved a proposal that a number of awards, including the Military Cross, could in the future be awarded posthumously.[3]


The award was created in 1914 for commissioned officers of the substantive rank of Captain or below and for Warrant Officers. In August 1916 Bars were awarded to the MC in recognition of the performance of further acts of gallantry meriting the award[4] and recipients of a bar continue to use postnominal letters MC.[5] In 1931 the award was extended to Majors and also to members of the Royal Air Force for actions on the ground. Since the 1993 review of the honours system, as part of the drive to remove distinctions of rank in awards for bravery, the Military Medal, formerly the third-level decoration for other ranks, has been discontinued. The MC now serves as the third-level award for gallantry on land for all ranks of the British Armed Forces.[6]


  • 46 mm max height, 44 mm max width
  • Ornamental silver cross with straight arms terminating in broad finials, suspended from plain suspension bar.
  • Obverse decorated with imperial crowns, with the Royal Cypher in centre.
  • Reverse is plain, but from 1938 the name of the recipient and year of issue has been engraved on lower limb of cross.
  • The ribbon width is 32 mm and consists of three equal vertical moire stripes of white, purple, and white.

Notable awards

For more information, see categories:
Recipients of the Military Cross
Recipients of the Military Cross and Bar
Recipients of the Military Cross and two Bars
  • During World War II Captain Sam Manekshaw, Indian Army (who eventually rose to the rank of Field Marshal), was leading a counter-offensive operation against the invading Japanese Army in Burma. During the course of the offensive, he was hit by a burst of machine-gun fire and severely wounded in the stomach. Major General D.T. Cowan spotted Manekshaw holding on to life and was aware of his valour in face of stiff resistance from the Japanese. Fearing the worst, Major General Cowan quickly pinned his own Military Cross ribbon on to Manekshaw saying, "A dead person cannot be awarded a Military Cross."[10]
  • The first posthumous Military Cross was that awarded to Captain Herbert Westmacott (491354), Grenadier Guards for gallantry in Northern Ireland during the period 1 February 1980 to 30 April 1980.[11]
  • Able Seaman Kate Nesbitt, second woman, first in the Royal Navy, for acts in Afghanistan in March 2009 as a Medical Assistant attached to 1 RIFLES, 3 Commando Brigade.[15][16][17]
  • Also in 2009, Lieutenant James Adamson of the Royal Regiment of Scotland was awarded an MC for bayonet charging a Taliban fighter. After shooting one insurgent, Adamson ran out of ammunition. He immediately bayonet charged a second insurgent and bayonetted him.[18]

See also


  1. UK Defence FactSheet, accessed 28 June 2007.
  2. "No. 56693". 17 October 2002. 
  3. P E Abbott and J M A Tamplin; British Gallantry Awards, 1981, Nimrod Dix and Co, ISBN 0-902633-74-0, p. xx.
  4. Clause 5 The Military Cross. Revisied Royal Warrant. "No. 29725". 25 August 1916. 
  5. Clause 8 The Military Cross. Revisied Royal Warrant. "No. 29725". 25 August 1916. 
  6. "Military Cross (MC)". Ministry of Defence. Retrieved 30 April 2009. 
  7. 7.0 7.1 Scott Addington; For Conspicuous Gallantry... Winners of the Military Cross and Bar during the Great War. Volume 1—Two Bars and Three Bars, Troubador Publishing Ltd, 2006, pp. 343–352.
  8. "No. 30901". 13 September 1918.  (Wallington)
  9. "No. 31158". 31 January 1919.  (Bentley, Gilkes & Timms)
  10. Compton McKenzie (1951), Eastern Epic, Chatto & Windus, London, pp. 440–1.
  11. "No. 48346". 20 October 1980.  (Westmacott)
  12. "No. 58183". 15 December 2006.  (Norris)
  13. Wilkes, David (10 August 2006). "Heroine teenage soldier to be decorated for bravery". Daily Mail. UK: Associated Newspapers. ISSN 0307-7578. Retrieved 22 March 2007. 
  14. Glendinning, Lee (22 March 2007). "Historic award for female private". The Guardian. UK: Guardian Media Group. p. 8. ISSN 0261-3077.,,2039749,00.html. Retrieved 22 March 2007. 
  15. "No. 59182". 11 September 2009.  (Nesbitt)
  16. Evans, Michael (11 September 2009). "Kate Nesbitt is first woman in Royal Navy to receive Military Cross". London: Times Newspapers. Retrieved 18 January 2010. 
  17. "First female Royal Navy medic awarded Military Cross". London: Telegraph Media Group. 27 November 2009. Retrieved 18 January 2010. 
  18. "British officer wins two gallantry awards for fending off Taliban attack with bayonet". London: Telegraph Media Group. 12 September 2009. Retrieved 3 October 2011. 


  • Mackay, J and Mussell, J (eds) – Medals Yearbook – 2005, (2004), Token Publishing.

External links

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