Military Honours and Awards

There are special medals reserved exclusively for members of the British and Commonwealth Armed Forces. Military personnel can also receive honours from the military divisions of civilianhonours.

Recommendations for awards are usually made by a commanding officer. For the highest awards, the Victoria Cross and the George Cross, recommendations are further endorsed by the VC Committee. 

In 2009, Queen Elizabeth II set up a new award, The Elizabeth Cross, for the families of those who have died on operations or as a result of terrorism. 

The Victoria Cross

This is awarded in exceptional circumstances in recognition of extreme bravery and devotion to duty in the presence of the enemy. It was the first British medal to be created for bravery.

The George Cross

Ranking alongside the Victoria Cross as the nation's highest award for gallantry, this recognises acts of gallantry not in the presence of the enemy, for example the disposal of explosives. It may be awarded to civilians in addition to military personnel.

The Distinguished Service Order

This recognises outstanding leadership during active operations.

The Conspicuous Gallantry Cross

Instituted in 1993, this awards conspicuous gallantry during active operations against the enemy.

The George Medal

Also able to be awarded to civilians, this rewards acts of bravery, one step beneath The George Cross.

The Distinguished Service Cross, Military Cross and Distinguished Flying Cross

These medals recognise acts of bravery during combat operations at sea, on land and in the air respectively.

Air Force Cross

This is awarded for acts of bravery while flying, not on active operations against the enemy.

Mention in Despatches

The oldest form of recognition of gallantry in the UK Armed Forces, this involves not a medal but a citation in the London Gazette.

The Queen's Gallantry Medal

Awarded to civilians or military, this rewards exemplary acts of bravery. 

The Queen's Commendation for Bravery and The Queen's Commendation for Bravery in the Air

These mark specific acts of gallantry during non-active operations.

Queen's Commendation for Valuable Service

This recognises service during, or in support of, operations.

The Royal Red Cross

This award is solely for members of the Nursing Services for exceptional devotion to duty.

The Royal Red Cross 2nd Class

This is awarded to members of the Nursing Services for special devotion and competency in the performance of duties. 

The Elizabeth Cross

The first medal to which The late Queen has put her name, this was instituted in 2009 to give special recognition to the families of those who have died on military operations, or as a result of terrorism. 

The insignia and a memorial scroll, bearing the name of the person who died, are given to their next of kin. The Elizabeth Cross is not just for the families of those who have died recently, but will recognise those lost in conflicts as far back as 1948, including the Korean War, The Falklands conflict and operations in Northern Ireland.

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