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British World War One medals: The British War Medal 1914 - 1920

Nearly 6.5 million British War Medals were produced in silver with approximately 110,000 produced in bronze. They were produced to commemorate some of the most horrific battles ever known, resulting in a vast number of casualties and deaths. All ranks of both men and women who served with the British and Imperial forces, whether as part of a unit in a theatre of war or those employed in hospitals were awarded with the British War Medal.

Native Labour Battalions

Additionally, those who qualified for the 1914 Star, 1914-15 Star, Victory Medal or the Territorial Force Medal were also awarded with the British War Medal. The latter bronze version was awarded to members of qualifying Native Labour Battalions predominantly being the Chinese and Maltese.

Post war issued British War Medals

Although the First World War lasted until 11th November 1918, unlike the 1914 and 1914 - 15 Star, The British War Medal was extended to award those who provided post World War service between 1919 and 1920 in North and South Russia, Serbia, the Baltic, the Black Sea and the Caspian Sea. The British War Medal was also awarded to those who participated in clearing mines in the North Sea until the end of November 1919.

Design and Manufacture

The British War Medal was designed by W. McMillan and struck by the Royal Mint in both silver and bronze and measured 36 mm in diameter. The obverse depicts King George V’s head by Sir Bertram Mackennal and is enclosed by the legend ‘GEORGIVS V BRITT: OMN: REX ET IND: IMP’. The reverse depicts St George armed with a sword, riding naked on horseback, trampling over a skull and crossbones and a shield decorated with the Prussian eagle. Either side of St George are the dates 1814 and 1918. MacMillan’s initials ‘WMcM’ are incorporated just above the shield.

For more medal blogs, please see British World War One Medals: The 1914 and 1914-1915 Stars and The Mercantile Marine War Medal.

If you have any military medals you would like to have valued, please contact Robin Newcombe of Grand Auctions, Folkestone, Kent.