The George Medal is a British Empire and Commonwealth civilian decoration. The medal was instituted in September 1940 during World War II and was awarded in recognition of; ‘…acts of great bravery’.
The medal is primarily a civilian award, but could be awarded to military personnel for gallant conduct that was not in the face of the enemy, consequently, it is the second level civil decoration of the British Empire and Commonwealth.
At the height of The Blitz, during World War II, it was recognised that there was a need to reward the many acts of civilian courage that were being demonstrated. The existing awards open to civilians were not deemed suitable, therefore, it was decided that the George Cross and the George Medal would be established for award to civilians to reward gallantry in the face of enemy action. Announcing the new award, the King stated:
‘…in order that they should be worthily and promptly recognised, I have decided to create, at once, a new mark of honour for men and women in all walks of civilian life. I propose to give my name to this new distinction, which will consist of the George Cross, which will rank next to the Victoria Cross and the George Medal for wider distribution’.
The original Warrant for the George Medal did not permit it to be awarded posthumously. This was changed in November 1977 to allow posthumous awards, several of which have been subsequently made.
Recipients of the George Medal are entitled to use the post-nominal letters ‘GM’.
The medal is circular, 36mm in diameter and is struck in silver. The obverse of this medal depicts the crowned effigy of the reigning monarch.
The reverse shows St. George on horseback slaying the dragon on the coast of England, with the inscription; ‘THE GEORGE MEDAL’ around the top edge of the medal.
The ribbon suspender is a ring attached to a fastening that surmounts the medal.
The recipient’s details can be found on the rim of the medal.
The ribbon is 32mm wide and crimson in colour with narrow blue stripes.
Bars awarded to the George 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.
Further relevant historical context can be found at the foot of this entry.
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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.