The British War Medal was
a campaign medal of the British Empire, for service in
World War I.
The medal was approved in 1919, for issue to 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.
Some 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.
The medal is a circular silver (or, in rare cases, bronze)
design. The obverse shows a King George V bareheaded effigy,
facing left, with the legend: GEORGIVS V BRITT : OMN : REX ET
IND : IMP : (George 5th, King of all the Britains, and, Emperor
The reverse shows St. George, naked, on horseback armed with a
short sword (an allegory of the physical and mental strength
which achieves victory over Prussianism). 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
The ribbon 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.
The colours are not believed to have any particular