WW2 Campaign Stars & Medals info thread

Discussion in 'Service Records' started by dbf, Dec 14, 2013.

  1. Ron Goldstein

    Ron Goldstein WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran

    Simply because I know that some of you lazy bxxxxxrs don't read every page of a thread, I wouldn't want you to miss this piece on Page 2 about campaign ribbons that are shewn on photos in black & white.
    Campaign Medals in Black & White.JPG
    There have been many threads on this forum asking members to identify medal ribbons that have been displayed on black & white photos,

    The section dealing with that should now put paid to all of these arguments :)

    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 25, 2017
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  2. dbf

    dbf Moderatrix MOD

    Cheers for comments everyone.

    JB - a pic of an actual Arctic Star would be a great addition.

    Peter - thanks for the correction, now dealt with.

    Ron - Thanks for noticing that. There are so many factors with tones on old photos, but I thought it worth including as a rough guide. I had to amend that chart slightly as there was a typo and so have at the same time removed the Arctic Star ribbon from that part - as it'd probably confuse matters.

    If anyone knows of other threads on here which haven't already been linked, please add them to the thread, it would be great to maintain this as a sort of hub.
  3. bamboo43

    bamboo43 Very Senior Member Patron

    I think I may have posted this link on the forum before, probably not too long ago, but it really belongs here;

    13 Million Medals

  4. Reid

    Reid Historian & Architectural Photographer

    Great read, and I too, love the B&W/Sepia examples you provided. Fantastic effort that I very much appreciate! :)
  5. gunbunnyB/3/75FA

    gunbunnyB/3/75FA Senior Member

    awesome guide, esp, for yanks who do not have a clue which star goes where, or what they look like. i myself would have been extremely happy to have had something like this around when i first started collecting. and even just learned about the arctic star,which proves that one is never to old to learn something.
  6. bamboo43

    bamboo43 Very Senior Member Patron

    Hi All,

    I thought I'd add something to this thread in regard to naming styles on WW2 medals. In general Commonwealth Service Personnel received their entitlements named. This applied to Australian, South African and some Indian groups, as well as the other Commonwealth nations involved.

    This section is simply here to show some of the different naming styles found on British medals, which are by their very nature, unofficial and normally arranged by the recipient or their family after the medals had arrived in the post from the individual Armed Service.

    If anyone has more information on this subject, or other examples of naming styles on British WW2 Stars or medals, please feel free to add it here.

    For a more general look at naming styles on British awards throughout the ages, see the link here:


    In Victorian times campaign medals were often 'engraved' with the recipients details, name, rank and service number etc. Varying fonts and styles were used.

    By WW1 medals were 'impressed' with the details of the recipient, generally speaking this style in various guises has adorned the medals of British and Commonwealth personnel over the last period, up until the British version of the 2003 Iraq Medal which was laser engraved with sans-serif font capitals.

    Back to WW2.

    It is well known that Boots, the high street chemist offered a naming service for WW2 service personnel in the late 1940's and 1950's. I have not been able to source a definite example of the 'Boots' font or style. However, consensus seems to be that this was often delivered in block capitals. The image '12a' below shows a WW2 star named in full block capitals, the image is not very clear, but this may well be a 'Boots' named medal.


    The next two examples come from a group awarded to a Sergeant in WW2. Image 13 is a Defence medal with an 'impressed' naming style very similar to that used on medals awarded since WW2, GSM and the like.

    13 Def. medal.JPG

    From the same group, a France and Germany Star impressed to a fairly high standard.

    14 FG Star.JPG

    The next image I found on line and shows a WW2 Star 'engraved', probably by a local jewellers. This example clearly shows the difference between engraving and impressing. It is a very good effort nonetheless.

    15 Engraved.jpg

    Here are some examples of naming styles to Indian Army personnel, the quality of named medals to these men can vary wildly in quality.

    Firstly, a War Medal and Burma Star to a Gurkha Rifleman:

    16 GR  War Medal.JPG

    17 GR Burma Star.JPG

    A 1939-45 Star to an Officer from the Frontier Force Regiment:

    18 Officer Star.jpeg

    Indian Army personnel, especially Other Ranks, often had their medals unofficially named by various means and to very varying degrees of quality. This diverse spread of naming styles makes identification of bona-fide Indian Army groups from WW2 very difficult to assess.

    My final example shows the official naming style consistent to entitlements awarded to South African personnel in WW2. This is an Africa Star awarded to Petrus Frans of the Cape Corps.

    19 SA Africa.JPG

    Please feel free to add other examples of WW2 medal naming styles, or any other related information on this subject.
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  7. bamboo43

    bamboo43 Very Senior Member Patron

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  8. bamboo43

    bamboo43 Very Senior Member Patron

    WW2 Medals: The arrival of a box in the post.

    I'm sure that our veteran forum members can remember, how, where and when they received their own medal entitlements for their WW2 service.

    I remember speaking with a Burma campaign veteran who had served with the Punjabis in World War 2 and this is how he described that moment to me.

    "I had been back home in England for about two years. At one of the regimental (Queens Royal West Surreys) reunions I was told that if I wanted my medals, I would need to apply for them. I ummmed and aarrghed for a few months and finally decided to send off for my gongs.

    Well, what a unimpressive experience that was. They arrived in a small, indistinct, brown cardboard box, about the size of a Swan Vestas match box, but perhaps twice as deep. Inside was a folded piece of paper, on one side I was thanked for my service, on the other was a list of medal names, with ticks against those I qualified for. This slip was folded so many times it was already creased and scruffy looking.

    My four medals were wrapped up in grease proof packets and then there were the associated ribbons. I could not believe the medals did not have my name on them and they must have cost about five bob to make I reckon, I was so disappointed. All I could think of was all those families receiving this same box in place of their lost loved one. It was disgraceful.

    Of course now I realise that the poor old country was basically broke and could not afford to do much else. But at the time I was really quite angry."

    I am not quite sure how my own Nan felt about this experience, I am fairly sure that she did not apply for granddad's medals and so the Army Office must have sent them to her. All I do know is that she did not keep them very long.

    So it seems that service personnel could apply for their medal entitlement to whichever Armed Force they had served with in WW2. Or, later on, families were allowed to apply retrospectively for the awards.

    Casualty entitlements were sent off to the next of kin seemingly automatically.

    Below, I have tried to put together a pictorial guide explaining the composition of the above process, showing as many of the various different types of award slips as possible. The main thread for this guide is really the 'condolence slip' which was sent to the next of kin, along with the awarded medal entitlement of the casualty involved.

    In some cases I have removed or masked the name of the casualty for obvious reasons, if I have let the name remain, it is because the example shows a typical style or font in presenting the name.

    This is by no means a conclusive display of award and condolence slips, please feel free to add, comment or correct on the information given.

    Firstly and generally, this is what the contents of the cardboard box might look like when first opened:

    Complete set.JPG

    This example shows the entitlement for a surviving POW of the infamous' Death Railway'. It shows the box lid, award slip (Naval) the grease proof packets, medals and ribbons. It also shows a small ribbon bar, these were not included in the original box and have been added by the recipient later on.

    1. Army Awards

    First image is an ordinary or standard Army award slip to a non-casualty. Next is an example of the slip reverse which lists all the WW2 medals and other emblems which may have been awarded with any one medal. These could be itemised by a simple tick, I have also seen stars and asterix used to show the entitlement as well. Please see Diane's explanation of these emblems posted at the very beginning of this thread.

    Army ordinary copy.JPG 12.jpg

    Shown next are two examples of the reverse of the actual postal box. These normally had details of the service centre from whence the awards originally came. For Army awards, these might be Infantry Centres, such as Preston or York, or as shown here, one from Perth in Scotland, or a Royal Artillery group from Sidcup in Kent.

    Army infantryBox Back copy 2.jpg RA rear 2 copy.jpg

    Sometimes the box also included a long strip of 'ticker-tape' which also itemised the recipients entitlement, these were more commonly found in RAF award boxes, but did appear in other services too. An example of this can be seen below, along with a close up of the grease proof packets in which the actual medals were placed.

    Ticker tape slip RAF copy 2.jpg Packets copy.JPG

    Award slips to casualties did at least include the person's name on the paper. In almost all cases to British Army personnel this name was typed into the space on the condolence slip, beginning with the casualties rank. The reverse of the condolence slip was identical to that of the ordinary paper and stated the medal entitlement in the same fashion.

    13.jpg 12.jpg

    2. RAF Awards

    The paperwork found with RAF entitlements was generally similar to that of the Army. As mentioned earlier, the inclusion of the 'ticker-tape' paper was more common in RAF boxes, but otherwise the box was made up in the same way. The casualty named on RAF condolence slips was mostly typed out beginning with rank. The slip of course was written by the Air Ministry in RAF examples:

    RAF ordinary copy.jpg Ticker tape slip RAF copy 2.jpg

    RAF slip 2 copy.jpg 12.jpg

    The main difference in the RAF set up was the front address panel on the box, which tended to always have a white tape panel, on to which the recipients address was printed.

    RAF box copy.jpg

    3. Naval Awards

    A very distinct difference occurred on the condolence slips sent by the Admiralty and Merchant Navy to casualty families. The casualty name was written in ornate long hand styles which varied depending on the office from which they came. For this reason alone, I have left the casualty name in the examples below. Also shown is an ordinary Award slip and both front and rear of a Naval award box:

    Naval 34.jpg Naval copy.jpg RNcondslip copy.JPG
    Naval box front copy.jpg Naval rear copy.jpg

    4. Merchant Navy

    The slips awarded to casualties from the Merchant Navy were presented by the Ministry of Transport. As mentioned earlier, these could also appear written in ornate long hand style. Below is an example of such a slip and the box for a Merchant Navy recipient:

    Merchant Navy copy 3.jpg

    Merchant Navy copy 2.jpg Merchant Navy 2 copy.jpg

    5. Indian Army

    Examples of condolence slips issued to personnel from the British Indian Army can be seen below. These were sent out by the Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations and were in most cases, typed, including the prefix, 'the late', when addressing the family of an officer. I am not sure how Other Ranked soldiers would have been addressed on their respective papers.


    46.jpeg 12.jpg 45.jpg

    6. Civilian Entitlement

    Seen below is a close up of an award slip for an entitlement given to a member of the Home Guard or other such UK based organisation. In fact the slip and medal box shown are those awarded to female recipient from WW2. These awards were mainly made up of the Defence and War Medals:

    Defence medal award copy.JPG 34.JPG

    7. Others

    Seen below are two more examples of the paper slips issued for WW2 medal entitlements.
    Firstly, the award slip as presented by the New Zealand Government. Secondly, and with many thanks to our own forum member CL1 for allowing me to use it here, an example of a retrospective, family application for medals, in this case circa 1979.

    56.jpg 57.JPG

    Well, that is all the information and photographic examples I can find. There will undoubtedly be more that you will want to add here. Please feel free.

    Award and condolence slips and the boxes they came in, are the only way to identify the recipient of WW2 medals, especially once these medals have left the family of origin. Sadly, some unscrupulous people have begun to forge condolence slips and medal boxes in order to fool unwary collectors of WW2 awards into parting with very large sums of money for fake groups and paperwork.

    These made up groups tend to represent those from the more famous actions and battles of WW2, such examples being: Arnhem Paras, D-Day landers and the like. So 'caveat emptor' is my advice to you all.
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  9. dbf

    dbf Moderatrix MOD

    Thanks very much Steve for taking time out to add examples of slip and boxes. I'm sure the info will be much appreciated.

    Lovely account of the receipt of medals.
  10. Ron Goldstein

    Ron Goldstein WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran


    Well done for a super presentation !

  11. bamboo43

    bamboo43 Very Senior Member Patron

    Thanks Diane/Ron,

    As I say, there are probably more examples than this, hopefully some of the other members will add to this post. Apologies for the poor quality of some of the images.

  12. Reid

    Reid Historian & Architectural Photographer

    Are the slips provided if medals are replaced? I'm thinking not, but have always wondered.
  13. bamboo43

    bamboo43 Very Senior Member Patron

  14. Wills

    Wills Very Senior Member

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  15. Wills

    Wills Very Senior Member

  16. bamboo43

    bamboo43 Very Senior Member Patron

    Hi All,

    I thought I would place this here as well as on its own thread. These are the medals of Group Captain and RAF ACE, Billy Drake. A wonderful example of a gallantry entitlement to a fighter pilot in WW2.

    1941 copy.jpeg
  17. Ron Goldstein

    Ron Goldstein WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran

    Thought I would add this pic to the thread to illustrate the custom of an ex-serviceman wearing medals that have been awarded to a family member (in this case his father) who is no longer alive.

    The pic shows yours truly on parade with another ex-4th Hussar man, Ken Smith
    Remembrance Sunday

    Note that he is wearing his late father's medals from the Great War on his right breast.


    Attached Files:

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  18. bamboo43

    bamboo43 Very Senior Member Patron

  19. Jonathan Ball

    Jonathan Ball It's a way of life.

    Here you go, Diane. Arrived a couple of weeks ago.

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  20. dbf

    dbf Moderatrix MOD

    Brilliant JB, thanks for remembering and adding the photo.
    Did a slip come with it? Just interested in how they do these things now.

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