Distinguished Service Medal
The Distinguished Service Medal was a British Empire and Commonwealth military decoration. The medal was instituted in October 1914 during World War I and was (until 1993) awarded to personnel of the Royal Navy, Royal Marines and members of the other services serving on-board ships, and formerly also to personnel of other Commonwealth countries, up to and including the rank of Chief Petty Officer; ‘…for bravery and resourcefulness on active service at sea’.
It was the other ranks' equivalent to the Distinguished Service Cross, which was awarded to commissioned officers and Warrant Officers, although it ranked below that decoration in order of precedence, between the George Medal and the Military Medal. Recipients of the Distinguished Service Medal are entitled to use the post-nominal letters ‘DSM’.
In 1993, the Distinguished Service Medal was discontinued, and since then the Distinguished Service Cross has been awarded to personnel of all ranks.
Recipients of the Distinguished Service Medal are entitled to use the post-nominal letters ‘DSM’.
The medal is circular, 36mm in diameter and was struck in silver. The obverse of this medal bears the crowned effigy of the reigning monarch.
The reverse has the inscription; ‘FOR DISTINGUISHED SERVICE’ in three lines, within a laurel wreath surmounted by an Imperial crown.
The ribbon suspender is of the plain, straight and swivelling style riveted to the medal.
The recipient's details can be found on the medal's rim.
The ribbon is 38mm wide and is blue in colour with two white strips towards the centre.
Bars awarded to the Distinguished Service Medal in recognition of the performance of further acts of gallantry meriting the award are worn on the ribbon.
In undress uniform or on occasions when the medal ribbon alone is worn, a silver rosette is worn on the ribbon to indicate each bar.
Bars issued during the First World War were dated on the reverse while those awarded during the Second World War are undated.
Further relevant historical context can be found at the foot of this entry.
Dealer Retail Value *
Distinguished Service Medal George V issue from
DSM George VI 1st type from
DSM George VI 2nd type from
DSM Elizabeth II issue from
For valuations for medals attached to an attributable group please ‘contact us’.
For valuations for medals with a second bar 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.