During both world wars there were several types of decoration for gallantry or efficient service which could be awarded (as there still are today). These awards were always later published in the London Gazette, sometimes with a citation detailing the reasons for the award. The receiver was then entitled to use the post nominal letters of that award after their name. For ease of reading, I have split the awards to men and women from each of the three counties up, and these are also split into categories: Pre WW1, WW1 and WW2. Among the numerous awards received by men and women from West Wales are:
The Victoria Cross (VC) is the highest military decoration which is, or has been, awarded for valour “in the face of the enemy” to members of the armed forces of various Commonwealth countries, and previous British Empire territories. It takes precedence over all other orders, decorations and medals. It may be awarded to a person of any rank in any service and civilians under military command. It is usually presented to the recipient, or their next of kin, by the British monarch during an investiture held at Buckingham Palace, or by the Governor-General for awards made by other Commonwealth countries. It is the joint highest award for bravery in the United Kingdom with the George Cross, which is the equivalent honour for valour not in the face of the enemy.
The Distinguished Service Order (DSO) was instituted on 6 September 1886 by Queen Victoria in a Royal Warrant published in the London Gazette on 9 November. The first awards were dated 25 November 1886. It is typically awarded to officers ranked Major (or its equivalent) or higher, but the honour has sometimes been awarded to especially valorous junior officers. 8,981 DSOs were awarded during World War I, each award being announced in the London Gazette. The order was established for rewarding individual instances of meritorious or distinguished service in war.
The Military Cross (MC) was instituted in 1914 for commissioned officers of the substantive rank of Captain or below and for Warrant Officers for “an act or acts of exemplary gallantry during active operations against the enemy on land to all members, of any rank …”
The Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC) was instituted on 3 June 1918, shortly after the formation of the RAF. It was originally awarded to commissioned officers and to Warrant Officers. During the Second World War it was also awarded to Royal Artillery officers serving on attachment to the RAF. Since the Second World War, the award has been open to army and naval aviation officers and since 1993 to other ranks as well.
The Distinguished Conduct Medal (DCM) was instituted in 1854, during the Crimean War, to recognise gallantry within the other ranks. The medal was the other ranks’ equivalent of the Distinguished Service Order when awarded for bravery to commissioned officers, although it ranked well below that order in precedence. Many holders of the DCM were originally recommended for the VC, but had their recommendations downgraded.
The Distinguished Service Medal (DSM) was instituted on 14 October 1914 as the ‘Other Ranks’ equivalent to the Distinguished Service Cross, which was awarded to commissioned officers and Warrant Officers in the Royal Navy, although it ranked below that decoration in order of precedence, between the George Medal and the Military Medal.
The Military Medal (MM) was established on 25 March 1916. It was the other ranks’ equivalent to the Military Cross, which was awarded to commissioned officers and Warrant Officers (although WOs could also be awarded the MM), although it took precedence below that decoration as well as the Distinguished Conduct Medal, also awarded to non-commissioned members of the Army. Recipients of the Military Medal are entitled to use the post-nominal letters “MM”.
The Meritorious Service Medal (MSM) was first instituted for the British Army in 1845. To be awarded the MSM, an individual must have “good, faithful, valuable and meritorious service, with conduct judged to be irreproachable throughout”. Other ranks must have at least twenty years service, must already hold a Long Service and Good Conduct Medal, and for the Army and the Royal Air Force must have reached the equivalent rank of sergeant. Officers of any service can also be considered for the medal immediately after being commissioned, provided they meet the other criteria, but not later.
Mention in Despatches (MID) is purely what the name suggests, a mention in the official despatches sent back to by a General which chronicle events during the war. Being ‘mentioned’ allowed the recipient to use the letters MID after his or her name, and is a well respected honour.
The Most Excellent Order of the British Empire is an order of chivalry which was established by King George V on 4 June 1917, and is composed of five classes in civil and military divisions. In descending order of seniority, these are:
Knight Grand Cross or Dame Grand Cross of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (GBE)
Knight Commander or Dame Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (KBE or DBE)
Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (CBE)
Officer of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (OBE)
Member of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (MBE)
There are several other decorations, but for a full and comprehensive listing please see the Wikipedia page on Orders, Decorations and Medals of the United Kingdom.
To read details of the known gallantry awards received by men and women from Ceredigion, Carmarthenshire and Pembrokeshire, please visit the links below: