World War II.
Further relevant historical context can be found at the foot of this entry.
The 1939-45 Star was a British Commonwealth campaign medal presented for service during World War II. The medal was instituted in 1945 and awarded for operational service between 3 September 1939 and 2 September 1945.
Army personnel had to complete six months service in an operational command. Airborne troops qualified if they had participated in any airborne operations and had completed two months service in a fully operational unit.
Air Force personnel had to participate in operations against the enemy providing that two months service had been completed in an operational unit. Non-aircrew personnel had to complete 6 months service in an area of (overseas) operational army command.
Naval personnel qualified if they completed six months service, and at least one voyage was made through an operational area, Royal Observer Corps personnel for service of 1080 days.
There were a number of ‘Qualifying Special Areas’ where operational service for ‘one day or part thereof’ qualified for the special award of the 1939-45 Star.
These were actions for which a more specific campaign medal was not issued. Examples are: France or Belgium - 10 May to 19 June 1940, St. Nazaire - 22 to 28 March 1942, Dieppe - 19 August 1942, Iraq - 10 April to 25 May 1941 and Burma (Enemy Invasion) - 22 February 1942 to 15 May 1942.
The star was immediately awarded if the service period was terminated by death, disability or wounding.
The award of a gallantry medal, or, a ‘Mention in Despatches’ also led to an immediate award.
The medal is of a six–pointed star design and was struck in yellow copper zinc alloy, with a height of 44mm and maximum width of 38mm.
The obverse of this medal has a central design of the Royal Cypher, surmounted by a crown. The cypher is surrounded by a circlet containing the inscription; ‘THE 1939-1945 STAR’.
The reverse is plain, with the recipient's details impressed only on the medals issued to Australian and South African forces. The ribbon is attached to the medal by a ring that passes through the uppermost point of the star.
The ribbon is 32mm wide and consists of equal width vertical stripes of dark blue, red and light blue. The dark blue stripe represents the Naval Forces and the Merchant Navy, the red stripe the Army and the light blue stripe the Air Force.
The ribbon for this medal, along with those of the other Second World War campaign stars, is reputed to have been designed by King George VI.
This medal was issued with the following bars:-
Battle Of Britain
Awarded to members of fighter aircraft crews who participated in the Battle Of Britain (10 July - 31 October 1940).
Awarded to aircrew of Bomber Command who served for at least sixty days, or completed a tour of operations, on a Bomber Command operational unit and flew at least one operational sortie on a Bomber Command operational unit between 3 September 1939 and 8 May 1945, inclusive.
NB: The criteria for the Bomber Command bar required prior qualification for the 1939-1945 Star.
Eligibility is extended to those members of Bomber Command aircrew who did not meet the qualifying criteria due to service being brought to an end by death, wounds or other disability due to service, service marked by a gallantry award or taken as a prisoner of war.
Foreign nationals commissioned or enlisted into British or, the then, Dominion Air Forces (e.g. Royal Canadian Air Force or Royal Australian Air Force) were eligible provided the individuals did not receive a similar award from their own Government.
In regards to both the Battle Of Britain and the Bomber Command bars, when the ribbon is worn alone, a silver rosette ribbon emblem is worn to denote the award of a bar.
Further relevant historical context can be found at the foot of this entry.
Dealer Retail Value *
With Battle Of Britain bar
With Bomber Command bar
* 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 Battle Of Britain.
- RAF Bomber Command.
The Battle Of Britain - The Battle of Britain is the name given to the Second World War air campaign waged by the German Air Force (Luftwaffe) against the United Kingdom during the summer and autumn of 1940. The name is derived from a famous speech delivered by Prime Minister Winston Churchill in the House of Commons: ‘...the Battle of France is over. I expect that the Battle of Britain is about to begin’.
The Battle of Britain was the first major campaign to be fought entirely by air forces, and was also the largest and most sustained aerial bombing campaign to that date. The objective of the campaign was to gain air superiority over the Royal Air Force (RAF), especially Fighter Command. From July 1940, coastal shipping convoys and shipping centres, such as Portsmouth, were the main targets; one month later the Luftwaffe shifted its attacks to RAF airfields and infrastructure.
As the battle progressed the Luftwaffe also targeted aircraft factories and ground infrastructure. Eventually the Luftwaffe resorted to attacking areas of political significance and using terror bombing strategy.
The failure of Germany to achieve its objectives of destroying Britain's air defences, or forcing Britain to negotiate an armistice or an outright surrender, is considered its first major defeat and a crucial turning point in the Second World War. By preventing Germany from gaining air superiority, the battle ended the threat that Hitler would launch ‘Operation Sea Lion’, a proposed amphibious and airborne invasion of Britain.
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.
RAF Bomber Command - RAF Bomber Command was formed in 1936 to be responsible for all bombing activities of the RAF. It found especial fame during World War II, when its aircraft were used for devastating night-time air raids on Germany and occupied Europe, principally the former, their bombing raids causing tremendous destruction of urban areas and factories.
Much of its personnel were drawn from outside the United Kingdom. Under the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan, many Commonwealth countries contributed squadrons or individuals to British air and ground staff. For example, No. 6 Group, which represented about one-sixth of Bomber Command's strength, was a Royal Canadian Air Force unit. Some non-British personnel came from occupied European countries.
At its height, Bomber Command under Air Chief Marshal Sir Arthur ‘Bomber’ Harris could put over 1,000 aircraft into the air over Germany. Over 12,000 Bomber Command aircraft were shot down during World War II, and 55,500 aircrew were killed, the highest attrition rate of any British unit.
The planned campaign medal for Bomber Command was never struck. The decision not to award a medal for all members of Bomber Command occurred during the short gap between the wartime coalition and Attlee's Labour Government, whilst Churchill was still P.M. This caused Harris to turn down Attlee's subsequent offer of a peerage in protest at this snub; a principled stand which Harris had taken, and declared, at the time the decision not to award a separate campaign medal was made.
The Command's raids had tied up huge amounts of Germany's defensive resources - which might have been diverted to the Eastern and Western Fronts and elsewhere - and the physical destruction of war material was considerable. Nevertheless Churchill, much to Harris's chagrin, made virtually no mention of Bomber Command's campaign in his victory speech on V.E.day. Harris, who was promoted to Marshal of the RAF by the Labour Government in 1946, was persuaded to accept a baronetcy when Winston Churchill became Prime Minister again in 1951, after Attlee's Labour Government was voted out of office.
Various aircraft were used, from the obsolete and horrendously vulnerable Fairey Battle in 1939 to the command's most numerous and successful aircraft, the Avro Lancaster. Bomber Command used not only British aircraft but also American-built machines such as the B-17 Flying Fortress and B-24 Liberator (although less than 2% of Bomber Command's wartime sorties were flown by US-built aircraft); in the case of the former they were the first to be put into battle and gave useful information on improvements before the US entered the war.
RAF Bomber Command was merged into RAF Strike Command in 1968.