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05/08/2021 01:39am

British War Medal 1914-20

World War I.
Further relevant historical context can be found at the foot of this entry.
The British War Medal was a British Empire campaign medal presented for service during World War I. The medal was instituted in 1919 and was awarded to the officers and men of British and Imperial forces who had rendered service between 5 August 1914 and 11 November 1918.
Officers and men of the Royal Navy, Royal Marines, and Dominion and Colonial naval forces (including reserves) were required to have completed 28 days mobilised service - the medal was automatically awarded in the event of death on active service before the completion of this period.
The medal was later extended to cover the period 1919-20 and service in mine-clearing at sea as well as participation in operations in North and South Russia, the eastern Baltic, Siberia, the Black Sea, and the Caspian.
Approximately 6,500,000 medals were awarded in total, of which 110,000 were bronze. These bronze medals were mostly issued to Chinese, Maltese, and Indians who served in labour battalions of such organizations as the Chinese Labour Corps.
When awarded along with the 1914 or 1914-15 Star and Victory Medal these three medals were collectively referred to as Pip, Squeak and Wilfred with Pip representing either the 1914 or the 1914-15 Star, (only one of which could be awarded to a soldier); Squeak represented the British War Medal; and Wilfred represented the Victory Medal.
The medal is circular, 36mm in diameter and was struck in either silver or bronze. The obverse of this medal bears an un-crowned effigy of King George V, facing left, with the inscription; ‘GEORGIVS V BRITT: OMN: REX ET IND: IMP:’ (George 5th, King of all the Britons and Emperor of India).
The reverse depicts St. George naked on horseback, armed with a short sword (an allegory of the physical and mental strength which achieves victory over Prussianiasm).
The horse tramples on the Prussian shield and the skull and cross-bones. Just off-centre, near the right upper rim, is the sun of Victory. The dates 1914 and 1918 appear in the left and right fields respectively.
The ribbon suspender is a straight economy non-swivelling type, which is riveted to the medal.
The recipient's details can be found on the medal's rim impressed in sans serif capitals - but due to the large numbers that were issued and the several suppliers that were involved this varies.
The ribbon is 36mm wide and has a wide central watered stripe of orange, flanked by two narrow white stripes, which are in turn flanked by two black pin-stripes, further flanked by two outer stripes of blue.
None were authorised for this medal.
Further relevant historical context can be found at the foot of this entry.
Dealer Retail Value *
British War Medal Silver (BWM) **
British War Medal Bronze
BWM & Victory Medal (Pair) to Corps
BWM & Victory Medal to Regiments
BWM & Victory Medal to R.N.
BWM & Victory Medal to R.F.C/R.A.F
Pair & Plaque to Corps
Pair & Plaque to Regiments
Pair & Plaque to R.N.
Pair & Plaque to R.F.C/R.A.F
* 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.
** The individual medal value will vary considerably based on the recipient’s details.
Further Historical Context
This section contains information on:-
- British Forces During World War I.
British Forces During World War I - The British Army during World War I fought the largest and most costly war in its long history. Unlike the French and German Armies, its units were made up exclusively of volunteers - as opposed to conscripts - at the beginning of the conflict. Furthermore, the British Army was considerably smaller than its French and German counterparts.
During the war, there were three distinct British Armies. The 'first' army was the small volunteer force of 400,000 soldiers, over half of which were posted overseas to garrison the British Empire. This total included the Regular Army and reservists in the Territorial Force. Together, they formed the British Expeditionary Force (BEF), which was formed for service in France and became known as the 'Old Contemptibles'.
The 'second' army was Kitchener's Army, formed from the volunteers in 1914-1915 destined to go into action at the Battle of the Somme. The 'third' was formed after the introduction of conscription in January 1916, and by the end of 1918, the army had reached its maximum strength of 4,000,000 men and could field over 70 divisions.
The vast majority of the army fought in the main theatre of war on the Western Front in France and Belgium against the German Empire. Some units were engaged in Italy and Salonika against Austria-Hungary and the Bulgarian Army, while other units fought in the Middle East, Africa and Mesopotamia - mainly against the Ottoman Empire - and one battalion fought alongside the Japanese Army in China during the Siege of Tsingtao.
The war also posed problems for the army commanders, given that prior to 1914, the largest formation any serving General in the BEF had commanded on operations was a division. The expansion of the army saw some officers promoted from brigade to corps commander in less than a year.
Army commanders also had to cope with the new tactics and weapons that were developed. With the move from manoeuvre to trench warfare, both the infantry and the artillery had to learn how to work together. During an offensive, and when in defence, they learned how to combine forces to defend the front line. Later in the war, when the Machine Gun Corps and the Tank Corps were added to the order of battle, they were also included in the new tactical doctrine.
The men at the front had to struggle with supply problems; the shortage of food and disease was rife in the damp, rat-infested conditions. Along with enemy action, many troops had to contend with new diseases: trench foot, trench fever and trench nephritis. When the war ended in 1918, British Army casualties, as the result of enemy action and disease, were recorded as 673,375 dead and missing, with another 1,643,469 wounded.
The rush to demobilise at the end of the war substantially decreased the strength of the army, from its peak of 4,000,000 men in 1918 to 370,000 men by 1920.
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.