Canadian Orders, Awards, Decorations and Medals

Introduction

This is an ongoing project to include descriptions of Awards and Decorations issued to Canadian troops during the Great War.

This is currently in the process of being developed.

Albert Medal (A.M.)

Nicknamed the "civilian VC" in recognition of the general esteem held towards this medal. The risk of the recipient's death had to be greater than his chances of survival, and for the gold award the risk had to be exceptional. The gold medal was replaced with the George Cross in 1949.

There have been a total of 1 AM issued to a Canadian during the first war..

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Air Force Cross (A.F.C.)

Awarded to an officer or Warrant Officer for an act or acts of valour, courage or devotion to duty whilst flying, but not while in active operations against an enemy.

There have been a total of 16 AFC's issued to Canadians during the first war..

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Companion of the Order of the Bath

The Order of the Bath was founded in 1725. The Most Honourable And Ancient Order Of The Bath was presented for service of the highest calibre. The order has a civil and a military division with three levels in each division: Knight Grand Cross (GCB); Knight Commander (KCB - Medal Shown); and Companion (CB). The first two levels confer knighthood, and since 1935, have not been available to anyone retaining Canadian Citizenship. The Companion level was presented to the military for service in WWII and one was presented to a Canadian in Korea.

There have been a total of 166 CB's issued to Canadians; 22 civil and 144 military.

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Companion of the Order of St Michael and St George

Ordinary Membership of the Order of St Michael and St George, which was instituted in 1818 (and enlarged and extended in 1868, 1879, 1887, 1901, 1911, 1915, 1927, 1935, 1937, 1939, 1948, 1953, 1954, 1960, 1965, 1969, 1974 and 1983), is conferred on subjects of the Crown of the United Kingdom and certain classes of British protected persons, who may hold, or have held high and confidential offices, or may render or have rendered extraordinary and important services (other than military) within or in relation to any part of the British Dominions or Territories under British Protection or Administration, and in reward for important and loyal services in relation to foreign affairs.

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Croix de Guerre (Belgium)

The Belgian Croix de Guerre (or War Cross) was instituted on 25 October 1915 as a means of formally recognising acts of heroism performed by individuals (of any of the Allied powers) during the First World War.

The medal was also awarded to recognise a period amounting to three years of front-line Belgian service (plus other circumstances, e.g. volunteers above age 40 with at least 18 months service in a combat unit).

The medal could only be earned by foreign nationals for acts of heroism conducted while on Belgian soil. Comprising a bronze cross the medal featured crossed swords and a disc bearing a rampant lion, the whole suspended from a bronze crown. The reverse of the medal bore the letter 'A' denoting King Albert I.

The medal was awarded by differing levels of command; depending upon the awarding command level the appurtenance worn on the ribbon differed. A bronze palm indicated that the medal was awarded by the army; the presence of a bronze lion that the medal was awarded by a regiment; and a gold lion denoted that the medal was issued by land forces. The ribbon was red with five green stripes.

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Croix de Guerre (France)

The French Croix de Guerre was instituted on 8 April 1915 by the French Government to recognise acts of bravery in the face of the enemy specifically mentioned in despatches.

Open to soldiers, sailors and airmen of all ranks, and of any Allied army, various types of Croix de Guerre were available: bronze (awarded by the army), silver (awarded by a division), silver-gilt (awarded by a corps), silver star (awarded by a division) and bronze star (awarded by a regiment or brigade).

Further acts of bravery resulted in the award of additional medal insignia worn on the ribbon of the medal; the ribbon being green ribbed with seven red stripes. Recipients of five bronze insignia were automatically entitled to a silver medal.

Recipients of the Legion d'Honneur and Medaille Militaire were automatically eligible to receive the Croix de Guerre. Foreign nationals were similarly eligible to receive the Croix de Guerre, as were individual units.

The medal took the form of a cross surmounted by crossed swords, the centrepiece bearing the head of the French Republic. The reverse of the medal bore one of the following dates: '1914-1915', '1914-1916', '1914-1917' or '1914-1918'.

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Distinguished Conduct Medal (D.C.M.)

This medal is awarded to Warrant Officers, non-commissioned officers (NCOs), and men, serving in any of the English sovereign's military forces, for distinguished conduct in the field. It is the second highest award for gallantry in action, after the Victoria Cross, for all military ranks below commissioned officers.

A silver bar with laurels on it is awarded for a subsequent act or acts of distinguished conduct in the field. The current reigning monarch appears on the medal.

The DCM was created on December 4, 1854 for the Crimean War. A total of 2,132 awards of the DCM have been made to Canadian Army and RCAF personnel, plus 38 first bars and 1 second bar.

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Distinguished Flying Cross (D.F.C.)

This silver cross is awarded to officers and Warrant Officers for an act or acts of valour, courage or devotion to duty performed whilst flying in active operations against the enemy. A straight silver bar with an eagle in the centre is awarded for a further act or acts. The year of the award is engraved on the reverse. The award was established on the birthday of King George V, June 3, 1918. Until 1919, the stripes were horizontal.

Canadians were awarded a total of 4,460 single medals, 256 first bars and 6 second bars.

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Distinguished Flying Medal (D.F.M.)

This medal is awarded to non-commissioned officers (NCOs) and men for an act or acts of valour, courage or devotion to duty performed whilst flying in active operations against the enemy. The reigning monarch is on the front of the medal, but the reverse is more imaginative with Athena Nike sitting on an airplane holding an eagle in the right hand. Above Athena are the words FOR COURAGE. Athena Nike was one of the Greek goddesses of victory. The DFM was created on June 3, 1918, until 1919 the stripes were horizontal.

A straight silver bar with an eagle in the centre is awarded for a further act that would have warranted the medal. The year of the award is engraved on the back of the bar.

A total of 556 DFMs were awarded to Canadians, although not all of them were in RCAF squadrons.

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Distinguished Service Cross (D.S.C.)

Originally named the Conspicuous Service Cross (June 1901- October1914), the DSC was awarded to naval personnel, from Warrant Officer to Lieutenant, for the performance of meritorious or distinguished services before the enemy.

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Member of the Royal Victorian Order (M.V.O.)

For Service to the Crown

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Mentioned in Dispatches

Mentioned in Dispatches (MID) is a military award for gallantry or otherwise commendable service. The award is relatively common, does not confer a medal and is relatively low in the order of precedence.

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Meritorious Service Medal

The medal was awarded to Warrant Officers and senior NCOs (Sergeant or above), who were discharged after 21 years service (18 if disabled), and had earned the Long Service and Good Conduct Medal.

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Military Cross (M.C.)

The Military Cross is awarded to commissioned officers of the substantive rank of Captain or below or Warrant Officers for distinguished and meritorious services in battle. The MC was established in December, 1915. In 1920, the terms were altered to clearly state the award was for gallant and distinguished services in action and that naval and air force officers could be awarded the cross for gallant and distinguished services on the ground.

Canadians have been awarded a total of 3,727 MCs, with 324 first bars and 18 second bars.

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Military Medal (M.M.)

King George V instituted the Military Medal in 1916 as WWI generated such a demand for medals. It is awarded to Warrant Officers, Non-Commissioned Officers and men for individual or associated acts of bravery on the recommendation of a Commander-in-Chief in the field. A silver, laurelled bar is awarded for a subsequent act or acts of bravery and devotion under fire.
The front of the medal shows the reigning monarch, while the reverse side shows FOR/BRAVERY/IN THE/FIELD in four lines, encircled by a laurel wreath and topped by the Royal Cypher and Crown.

Canadians have received 13, 654 Military Medals, plus 848 first bars and 38 second bars

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Royal Red Cross Class 2

The award is made to a fully trained nurse or assistant nurse, probationer, or V.A.D. nursing member, who, belonging to one of the officially recognized nursing services, has shown special devotion and competency in the performance of nursing duties, over a continuous and long period, or who has performed some very exceptional act of bravery and devotion at her post of duty. Up to five percent of the total establishment of nurses could receive the ARRC. Associates may be elevated to Member as vacancies arise.

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Victoria Cross (V.C.)

The Victoria Cross is the highest award for valour that a Canadian sodier can recieve. It is issued "For most conspicuous bravery or some daring or pre-eminent act of valour or self-sacrifice in the presence of the enemy". The Victoria Cross has been awarded to 94 Canadians, 70 during World War 1.

The Victoria Cross was founded by Royal Warrant January 29, 1856 to recognize the bravery of those who were then fighting the Crimean War. It was available to all soldiers and "neither rank, nor long service, nor wounds, nor any other circumstance or condition whatsoever, save the merit of conspicuous bravery" could make one eligible - truly a democratic award.

The Cross itself is cast from the bronze of cannons captured at Sevastopol during the Crimean War. The design, chosen by Queen Victoria, consists of a cross patee ensigned with the Royal Crest resting upon a scroll bearing the words "For Valour." The reverse of the suspender bar is engraved with the recipients' name, rank and unit while the reverse of the cross is engraved with the date of the deed for which the recipient was honoured.

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Left to do:

Italian Silver Medal for Military Valeur
Knight Commander of the Order of the British Empire
Officer of the Order of the British Empire

Distinguished Service Order (D.S.O.)
Officer of the Order of the British Empire (O.B.E.)
Member of the Order of the British Empire (M.B.E.)
Member of the Royal Red Cross (R.R.C.)
Associate of the Royal Red Cross (A.R.R.C.)
Conspicuous Gallantry Medal (C.G.M.)
Distinguished Service Medal (D.S.M.)

An MID is an oak leaf attached to the Victory Medal when a soldier is mentioned in despatches.