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02/06/2020 14:56pm

British Empire Medal

In 1922, the original Medal of the order of the British Empire (founded at the same time as ‘The Most Excellent Order of the British Empire’ - for junior government and military officials who were deemed not senior enough to enter the Order itself) was split into two separate awards, 1. the Medal of the Order of the British Empire for Gallantry (EGM - which was to be awarded for acts of gallantry), and 2. the Medal of the Order of the British Empire (which was for ‘Meritorious Service’ and is generally known as the British Empire Medal - BEM) which was awarded for meritorious services and was the lower level award of the Order of the British Empire.
The British Empire Medal (BEM) is a British medal awarded for meritorious civil or military service worthy of recognition by the Crown. King George V introduced the medal in December 1922 and it is divided into civil and military medals in a similar way to the Order of the British Empire itself.
While recipients are not technically counted as members of the Order, these medals are nevertheless affiliated with it. The British Empire Medal was awarded to subjects of the United Kingdom until 1992 when the then Prime Minister, Sir John Major decided that the distinction between the BEM and MBE had ‘become increasingly tenuous’ and he wanted more local people to receive their awards from the Queen herself, after which time it lay in abeyance in the United Kingdom, although was still awarded in some Commonwealth realms.
Following the 2011 Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting, Prime Minister David Cameron announced that the medal would once again be issued in the United Kingdom, beginning in 2012, to coincide with the Queen's Diamond Jubilee.
Those awarded the honour did not receive it from the monarch but from the Lord Lieutenant of their county or a local authority.
Recipients of the British Empire Medal are entitled to use the post-nominal letters ‘BEM’.
The medal is circular, 36mm in diameter and is struck in silver. The obverse of this medal depicts an image of Britannia with the inscription; ‘FOR MERITORIOUS SERVICE’.
The reverse depicts the Imperial and Royal Cypher, with the inscription; ‘INSTITUTED BY KING GEORGE V’.
The recipient's details can be found on the medal's rim.
The ribbon suspender is of the plain, straight and non-swivelling style ornamented with oak leaves.
Military Issue
The ribbon is 38mm wide and rose-pink in colour, with a narrow pearl-grey stripe along either edge and down the middle.
Civil Issue
Order of the British Empire (Civil) Ribbon.png
The ribbon is 38mm wide and rose-pink in colour with a narrow pearl-grey stripe along either edge.
Between 1922 and 1936, the ribbon for both the Military and the Civil issue was purple in colour - with the military issue having a central red stripe.
None were authorised for this medal.
Further relevant historical context can be found at the foot of this entry.
Dealer Retail Value *
British Empire Medal George V civil issue from
BEM George V military issue from
BEM George VI civil issue from
BEM George VI military issue from
BEM Elizabeth II civil issue from
BEM Elizabeth II military issue from
For valuations for medals with a gallantry award please ‘contact us’.
* It should be noted that the values quoted above reflect the average price that a medal dealer may expect to sell this medal for - please see the ‘things you should know’ web page for more details about valuing medals.
Further Historical Context
This section contains information on the following:-
- The British Honours System.
- The London Gazette.
The British Honours System - The British honours system is a means of rewarding individuals' personal bravery, achievement, or service to the United Kingdom and the British Overseas Territories. The system consists of three types of award: honours, decorations and medals:
Honours are used to recognise merit in terms of achievement and service, decorations tend to be used to recognise specific deeds and medals are used to recognise bravery, long and or valuable service and or good conduct.
Although the Anglo-Saxon monarchs are known to have rewarded their loyal subjects with rings and other symbols of favour, it was the Normans who introduced knighthoods as part of their feudal government.
The first English order of chivalry, the Order of the Garter, was created in 1348 by Edward III. Since then the system has evolved to address the changing need to recognise other forms of service to the United Kingdom.
As the head of state, the Sovereign remains the 'fount of honour', but the system for identifying and recognising candidates to honour has changed considerably over time.
Various orders of knighthood have been created (see below) as well as awards for military service, bravery, merit, and achievement which take the form of decorations or medals.
Most medals are not graded. Each one recognises specific service and as such there are normally set criteria which must be met. These criteria may include a period of time and will often delimit a particular geographic region. Medals are not normally presented by the Sovereign.
A full list is printed in the 'order of wear', published infrequently by the London Gazette.
A complete list of approximately 1350 names is published twice a year, at New Year and on the date of the Sovereign's (official) birthday. Since their decisions are inevitably subjective, the twice-yearly honours lists often provoke criticism from those who feel strongly about particular cases.
Candidates are identified by public or private bodies, by government departments or are nominated by members of the public. Depending on their roles, those people selected by committee are submitted either to the Prime Minister, Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, or Secretary of State for Defence for their approval before being sent to the Sovereign for final approval.
Certain honours are awarded solely at the Sovereign's discretion, such as the Order of the Garter, the Order of the Thistle, the Royal Victorian Order, the Order of Merit and the Royal Family Order.
The awards are then presented by the Sovereign or her designated representative. The Prince of Wales, the Duke of Cambridge and the Princess Royal have deputised for the Queen at investiture ceremonies at Buckingham Palace.
This information was taken from ‘Wikipedia’. The original article and details of the authors can be found here. It is reproduced on this web-site under the ‘creative commons’ licence which can be found here.
The London Gazette - The London Gazette is one of the official journals of record of the British government, and the most important among such official journals in the United Kingdom, in which certain statutory notices are required to be published. The London Gazette claims to be the oldest surviving English newspaper and the oldest continuously published newspaper in the UK, having been first published on 7 November 1665 as The Oxford Gazette.
This title is also claimed by the Stamford Mercury and Berrow's Worcester Journal, because the Gazette is not a conventional newspaper offering general news coverage. It does not have a large circulation.
Other official newspapers of the UK government are the Edinburgh and Belfast Gazettes, which, apart from reproducing certain materials of nationwide interest published in The London Gazette, also contain publications specific to Scotland and Northern Ireland, respectively.
In turn, The London Gazette not only carries notices of UK-wide interest, but those relating specifically to entities or people in England and Wales. However, certain notices that are only of specific interest to Scotland or Northern Ireland are also required to be published in The London Gazette.
The London, Edinburgh and Belfast Gazettes are published by TSO on behalf of Her Majesty's Stationery Office. They are subject to Crown Copyright.
In the British Armed Forces, the despatch is published in the London Gazette.
This information was taken from ‘Wikipedia’. The original article and details of the authors can be found here. It is reproduced on this web-site under the ‘creative commons’ licence which can be found here.