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Defence Medal

World War II.
Further relevant historical context can be found at the foot of this entry.
The Defence Medal was a British Commonwealth campaign medal presented for service during World War II. The medal was instituted in 1945 to recognise both military service and an extensive list of civilian service in support of the war effort or the armed forces.
In regards to military service, the qualifying time required depended on the area in which the service was undertaken. In the UK it was 1080 days, overseas non-operational it was 360 days, overseas non-operational in an area deemed to be closely threatened or subject to air attack it was 180 days.
In regards to civilian service in the UK, this included but was not limited to, those civilian personnel who worked as members of: Home Guard, Royal Observer Corps, Fire Brigades, including the National Fire Service (NFS), Civil Defence Messenger Service, Police and Coast Guard.
The medal was also awarded if service was either full-time or part-time for not less than three years in the United Kingdom during the period of active hostilities in Europe between September 1939 and May 1945 in any of the categories listed in the ‘further historical context’ section detailed at the end of this entry.
The medal was also awarded if this service was brought to an end before the period of 3 years’ was completed by sustaining an injury. Additionally, if death occurred due to enemy action while on duty the next of kin could apply for the Defence Medal.
The medal was also awarded if the recipient received an Honour, Decoration or Medal or King’s Commendation for brave conduct or King’s Commendation for valuable service in the air - which was published in the London Gazette - provided that when the Award or King’s Commendation was earned, the recipient was serving in a category eligible for the Defence Medal.
The obverse of the medal was designed by T.H. Paget, while the reverse of the medal was designed by H. Wilson Parker.
The medal is circular, 36mm in diameter and was struck in cupro-nickel - although the ones issued to Canadian forces were struck in silver.
The obverse of this medal depicts the bareheaded effigy of King George VI, facing left, and the inscription; ‘GEORGIVS VI D: G: BR: OMN: REX F: D: IND: IMP.’ (George VI, by the grace of god, king of all the Britain’s, defender of the faith, emperor of India).
The reverse depicts the Royal Crown rests on the stump of an oak tree, flanked by a lion and a lioness. At the top left is the date; '1939', and at the top right, the date; '1945'. The base of the medal has the inscription; 'THE DEFENCE | MEDAL' in two lines.
The ribbon suspender is of the plain, straight and non-swivelling style riveted to the medal.
The medal was issued un-named to most forces, only being named to those issued to Australian and South African forces.
The ribbon is 32mm wide and is made up of a number of vertical stripes. The ribbon is flame coloured in the centre flanked by stripes of green to symbolise enemy attacks on Britain's green and pleasant land, with narrow black stripes to represent the black-out.
None were authorised for this medal, however, the King’s commendation for Brave Conduct is worn on this ribbon.
Further relevant historical context can be found at the foot of this entry.
Dealer Retail Value *
Defence Medal
Canadian Silver Issue
* 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 Home Guard.
- Air Raid Precautions.
- The London Fire Brigade And The Blitz.
- The Home Front.
- Categories Of Entitlement.
The Home Guard - The Local Defence Volunteers (LDV) was formed in May 1940; it was renamed the Home Guard in July 1940. Civilians aged between 17 and 65, who were not in military service, were asked to enlist in the LDV.
The response was 250,000 volunteers attempting to sign up in the first seven days; by July this had increased to 1.5 million volunteers. On 17 May the LDV achieved official legal status when the Privy Council issued the 'Defence (Local Defence Volunteers) Order in Council', and orders were issued from the War Office to regular Army headquarters throughout Britain explaining the status of LDV units; volunteers would be divided into sections, platoons and companies but would not be paid and leaders of units would not hold commissions or have the power to command regular forces.
At its height, the Home Guard comprised 1.5 million local volunteers otherwise ineligible for military service, usually owing to age, hence the nickname 'Dad's Army' - acted as a secondary defence force, in case of invasion by the forces of Germany and their allies. The Home Guard guarded the coastal areas of Britain and other important places such as airfields, factories and explosives stores.
The issue of weapons to LDV and then Home Guard units was solved when emergency orders were placed for First World War vintage Ross Rifles from Canada and Pattern 1914 Enfield and M1917 Enfield rifles from the United States. The Home Guard was stood down on 3 December 1944 and disbanded on 31 December 1945.
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.
Air Raid Precautions - The 'ARP' was an organisation in the United Kingdom- set up as an aid in the prelude to the Second World War dedicated to the protection of civilians from the danger of air-raids. It was created in 1924 as a response to the fears about the growing threat from the development of bomber aircraft after Giulio Douhet had published his influential 'Command of the Air' in 1921 and his main thesis had been memorably taken into English as 'the bomber will always get through'.
Many of the practices and ideals set forth by the ARP lived on beyond the War through Civil Defence during the Cold war and still exist today in civilian organizations in the United Kingdom.
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 Fire Brigade And The Blitz - On 7 September 1940, a sub-officer at West Ham fire station witnessed the start of the Blitz by Nazi Germany on London. He reported that three miles of waterfront buildings had become a continuous blaze, and ordered 500 fire engines to be mobilised.
The commander thought this an exaggeration and sent someone to investigate the situation, who reported back that 1,000 were required! More than 300 firefighters perished in the widespread and sustained bombing campaign, including two in a direct hit on Soho fire station and six in a direct hit on Wandsworth fire station.
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 Home Front - The home front covers the activities of the civilians in a nation at war. World War II was a total war; homeland production became even more invaluable to both the Allied and Axis powers. Life on the home front during World War II was a significant part of the war effort for all participants and had a major impact on the outcome of the war. Governments became involved with new issues such as rationing, manpower allocation, home defence, evacuation in the face of air raids, and response to occupation by an enemy power.
The morale and psychology of the people responded to leadership and propaganda. Typically women were mobilized to an unprecedented degree. The success in mobilizing economic output was a major factor in supporting combat operations. All of the powers involved had learned from their experiences on the Home front during World War I and tried to use its lessons and avoid its possible sources of error. The home front engaged in several activities to help the British army and navy, including taking down metal fences and gates to replace them with stone or wood. The metal was then melted down, and used for battle ships or planes.
Britain's total mobilization during this period proved to be successful in winning the war, by maintaining strong support from public opinion. The war was a "people's war" that enlarged democratic aspirations and produced promises of a post-war welfare state. Not all Britons viewed the gravity of the situation in the same way. At the famous cricket ground of Lords in London on September 1, 1939, one venerable member, complete with rolled umbrella and spats, watched the removal of a bust of WG Grace (a famous cricketer from the Victorian era), declaring to another onlooker: 'Did you see that sir? That means war'.
Mobilisation of women -  historians credit Britain with a highly successful record of mobilizing the home front for the war effort, in terms of mobilizing the greatest proportion of potential workers, maximizing output, assigning the right skills to the right task, and maintaining the morale and spirit of the people. Much of this success was due to the systematic planned mobilization of women, as workers, soldiers and housewives, enforced after December 1941 by conscription. The women supported the war effort, and made the rationing of consumer goods a success. In some ways, the government over planned, evacuating too many children in the first days of the war, closing cinemas as frivolous then reopening them when the need for cheap entertainment was clear, sacrificing cats and dogs to save a little space on shipping pet food, only to discover an urgent need to keep the rats and mice under control.
In the balance between compulsion and voluntarism, the British relied successfully on voluntarism. The success of the government in providing new services, such as hospitals, and school lunches, as well as the equalitarian spirit of the People's war, contributed to widespread support for an enlarged welfare state. Munitions production rose dramatically, and the quality remained high. Food production was emphasized, in large part to open up shipping for munitions. Farmers increased from 12,000,000 to 18,000,000 the number of acres under cultivation, and the farm labour force was expanded by a fifth, thanks especially to the Women's Land Army.
Parents had much less time for supervision of their children, and the fear of juvenile delinquency was upon the land, especially as older teenagers took jobs and emulated their older siblings in the service. The government responded by requiring all youth over 16 to register, and expanded the number of clubs and organizations available to them.
Munitions - In mid-1940, the RAF was called on to fight the Battle of Britain but it had suffered serious losses. It lost 458 aircraft-more than current production-in France and was hard pressed. The government decided to concentrate on only five types of aircraft in order to optimize output. They were: Wellingtons, Whitley Vs, Blenheims, Hurricanes and Spitfires. These aircraft received extraordinary priority.
Covering the supply of materials and equipment and even made it possible to divert from other types the necessary parts, equipment, materials and manufacturing resources. Labour was moved from other aircraft work to factories engaged on the specified types. Cost was not an object. The delivery of new fighters rose from 256 in April to 467 in September-more than enough to cover the losses-and Fighter Command emerged triumphantly from the Battle of Britain in October with more aircraft than it had possessed at the beginning. Starting in 1941, the US provided munitions through Lend lease that totalled $15.5 billion.
Rationing - Food, clothing, petrol, leather and other such items were rationed. However, items such as sweets and fruits were not rationed, as they would spoil. Access to luxuries was severely restricted, although there was also a significant black market. Families also grew victory gardens, and small home vegetable gardens, to supply themselves with food. Many things were conserved to turn into weapons later, such as fat for nitro-glycerine production. People in the countryside were less affected by rationing as they had greater access to locally sourced unrationed products than people in metropolitan areas and were more able to grow their own.
The rationing system, which had been originally based on a specific basket of goods for each consumer, was much improved by switching to a points system which allowed the housewives to make choices based on their own priorities. Food rationing also permitted the upgrading of the quality of the food available, and housewives approved-except for the absence of white bread and the government's imposition of an unpalatable wheat meal 'national loaf'. People were especially pleased that rationing brought equality and a guarantee of a decent meal at an affordable cost.
Evacuation - From very early in the war, it was thought that the major industrial cities of Britain, especially London in the southeast, would come under Luftwaffe air attack, which did happen with The Blitz. Some children were sent to Canada, the USA and Australia and millions of children and some mothers were evacuated from London and other major cities when the war began under government plans for the evacuation of civilian, but they often filtered back.
When the Blitz bombing began on September 6, 1940, they evacuated again. The discovery of the poor health and hygiene of evacuees was a shock to many Britons, and helped prepare the way for the Beveridge Report. Children were evacuated if their parents agreed but in some cases they did not have a choice. The children were only allowed to take a few things with them, including a gas mask, books, money, clothes, ration book and some small toys.
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.
Categories Of Entitlement Were As Follows:-
Ex-member of the Armed Forces or of the Women’s Military Auxiliary Services.
Home Guard.
Medical Services (overseas).
Joint War Organisation of British Red Cross.
Society and the Order of St John of Jerusalem.
Chartered Physiotherapists.
British Red Cross Society.
American Field Service.
Philanthropic Bodies (Overseas).
Army Scripture Readers’ Association.
Catholic Women’s League.
Christian Scientists (Officiating Minister).
Christian Scientists Welfare Workers (Librarians and Secretaries).
Church Army.
Church of England Soldiers’, Sailors’ and Airmen’s Institute.
Church of Scotland.
Hibbert House.
Incorporated Soldiers’, Sailors’ and Airmen’s Help Society.
Methodist and United Board Churches.
Mission to Mediterranean Garrisons.
Salvation Army.
Soldiers’, Sailors’ and Airmen’s’ Families Association.
Young Men’s Christian Association.
Young Women’s Christian Association.
Voluntary Societies under the Council of British Society for Relief Abroad.
Catholic Committee for Relief Abroad.
Guide International Relief Service.
International Voluntary Service for Peace.
Jewish Committee for Relief Abroad.
Joint War Organisation of the British Red Cross Society and the Order of St John of Jerusalem.
Salvation Army.
Save the Children Fund, Registered Charity.
Scout International Relief Service.
World Student Relief (also known as International Student Service) (London Committee).
Young Women’s Christian Association.
N.A.A.F.I. (Overseas).
N.A.A.F.I. Women’s Voluntary Service.
Civilian Uniformed Employees.
Entertainment National Service Association.
Other Organisations and independent members (Overseas).
Allied Expeditionary Force Club.
Army Schoolmistresses, Malta.
Assistant Commissioners H.M Forces war Savings Committee.
Civil Defence Service Overseas Column.
National Fire Service Overseas Column.
Technical Representative Civilian . R.E.M.E.
Telecom Personnel (Cable and Wireless Ltd).
War Correspondents including Americans who served between 3/9/39 and 8/12/41 inclusive.
War Office King’s Messengers.
Women’s Voluntary Service A.W.S.
Women’s Transport Service A.W.S.
Women’s Transport Service F.A.N.Y. Special Parties.
Civil Defence Warden service including Shelter Warden.
Civil Defence Rescue Service, including former First Aid Party Services, or in London, Stretcher Party Services.
Civil Defence Decontamination Service.
Civil Defence Report and Control Service.
Civil Defence Messenger Service.
Civil Defence Ambulance Service including sitting Case Cars.
Civil Defence First Aid Service, including First Aid Posts and Points. Public Cleaning Centres. Mobile Cleaning Units and the Nursing Service for public air-raid shelters.
Civil Defence Gas Identification Service.
Rest Centre Service.
Emergency Food Services including Queen’s Messenger Convoy Services.
Canteen Services.
Administration and Information Centre Services not Ministry of Information Services.
Mortuary Services.
Fire guards - who performed duties under a local authority in any areas where the establishment of a fire guard organisation was compulsory or was approved by the Regional Commissioner in Northern Ireland, the Ministry responsible being service which was qualifying service for the award of Chevrons for war services including civil defence and Fire brigade personnel who performed duties at government or business premises under arrangements made under the Fire Guard Business and Government Premises Order 1943, or any previous provision or under the corresponding Order in Northern Ireland being service which was qualifying service for the award of Chevron for war service.
E.N.S.A (Entertainments National Service Association).
Women’s Voluntary Service for Civil Defence - being members who were eligible for war service red chevrons by reasons that they performed on behalf of a local authority duties analogous to those, of the eligible local authority civil defence services, and were engaged in a section of the W.V.S, which had, or would have had, operational functions during or immediately after enemy Reserve. Authorities, who do not qualify for the W.V.S members who were enrolled members of one of the eligible local authority services should apply as laid down for categories 8 - 19 above.
Civil Nursing Reserve.
Nurses or Midwives in hospitals for which Government Department or Local Authorities are responsible, or in the recognised voluntary hospitals.
National Fire Services including services in a local authority Fire Brigade or the Auxiliary Fire Services prior to nationalisation.
Police Regular Police, First Police Reserve, Police War Reserve, Women’s Auxiliary Police Corps, Police Auxiliary Messenger Service, Special Constabulary.
Royal Marine Police Special Reserve.
Admiralty Civil Police.
War Department Constabulary.
Air Ministry Constabulary.
Railway and Dock Police.
Civil Defence Services set up by Railway Dock authority and Canal Undertakings.
American Ambulance. Great Britain.
Civil Air Transport, Air crew only.
Air Transport Auxiliary, Air crew only.
Civil Defence Reserve.
Kent County Civil Defence Mobile Reserve.
West Sussex County Civil Defence Mobile attacks.
Coast Guard.
Civil Servants forming departmental Civil Defence organisations.
Lighthouse keepers who served under the three general lighthouse Authorities, and keepers of Light Vessel under those authority, who do not qualify for the 1939-45 Star.
Port of London Authority River Emergency Service.
Clyde River Patrol.
Royal Observer Corps.
Volunteer Stretcher Bearers Emergency Hospital Scheme.
Male Orderlies in Casualty Evacuation Trains Emergency Medical Service.
Emergency Information Officers and their helpers( who served under the Ministry of Information, and including Deputy E.I.Os Announcers, Drivers, and Messengers, if engage in a section of the Service which had, operational functions during or immediately after enemy attack.
R.A.F. Education Officers serving in the United Kingdom.
Enrolled lifeboat men R.N.L.I. who do not qualify for the 1939-45 Star.
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.