The British War Medal 1914 - 1920

Instituted in 1919 to commemorate the successful conclusion of the Great War, and the arduous services rendered by His Majesty's Forces. The Medal was later extended to include service in North and South Russia, Eastern Baltic, Siberia, the Black Sea and the Caspian, and mine clearance post armistice up to 1920.

Award Criteria

Royal Navy.
     Awarded to those of the under mentioned classes who performed twenty-eight days' mobilized service, or lost their lives in active operations before completing that period, between 5th August 1914 and 11th November 1918, both dates inclusive.

(a) Officers, warrant officers, petty officers, non-commissioned officers and men of the Royal Navy, Royal Marines, Royal Naval Air Service, Royal Indian Marine, Royal Naval Reserve (including Trawler and Fishery Sections), Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve and Dominion and Colonial Naval Forces.

(b) Mercantile Marine officers and men serving in His Majesty's commissioned ships and auxiliaries on Special Naval Engagements.

(c) Officers and enrolled members of the Women's Royal Naval Service who proceeded and served overseas.

(d) Members of Queen Alexandra's Royal Naval Nursing Service and Royal Naval Nursing Service Reserve, and recognized official nursing organizations, who served in a hospital ship at sean the award.

" German east Africa " — To be awarded to the Officers and men of H.M. Ships employed off the coast and outlying islands of East Africa between Mombasa and Delagoa Bay, both inclusive, throughout the war; also to those Naval ranks and ratings serving on the African Lakes.

"German S.W. Africa" — To be awarded to the Officers and men of H.M. Ships employed on the coast of German S.W. Africa between Luderitz Bay and Swakopmund between September 15th 1914 and July 9th 1915.

" pacific islands " — To be awarded to all Naval Officers and men who took part in the following operations :—

New Britain   ( Sept. 11 - 21st 1914.)

New Ireland    (Sept. 6 - Oct. 8th 1914.)

Kaiser Wilhelm Land    (Sept. 24th 1914.)

Admiralty Islands    (Nov. 21st 1914.)

Naura    (Nov. 6th 1914.)

German Samoa  (Aug. 29th 1914.)

 " Cameroons " — To be awarded to the Officers and men of all H.M. Ships, vessels and boats, including the Nigerian Marine personnel, who were present on the Cameroons' waters and rivers between 29th August 1914 and 31st January 1916 inclusive.

(G) services in Serbia and Russia, and post armistice operations

Under this head the following clasps will be awarded :—

" north Russia, 1918/19 " — To be awarded to all naval ranks and ratings who served afloat or ashore in North Russia, within the area specified below, between midnight, 11-12th November 1918 and 12th October 1919.

Southern Limit — Along the parallel of 60° N. between the meridians of 30° E. and 50° E.

Eastern Limit — The meridian of 50° E.

Western Limit — The meridian of 30° E.

" eastern Baltic, 1918-19 " — To be awarded to all naval ranks and ratings who served within the Gulf of Finland and in the Baltic east of 20° E. between midnight,11-12th November 1918, and midnight, 31st December I919-1st January 1920.

" mine clearance, 1918-19 " — To be awarded to those Officers and men who actually signed a Mine Clearance Contract, and were accepted and employed under the terms M.0.972/19. Limiting dates and areas as follows :—

(a)  In   Home   Waters, including North Sea European littoral, between 11th November 1918, and midnight, 30th September-1st October 1919.

(b)  Within the Mediterranean, between 11th November 1918, and midnight, 30th November-1st December 1919.

(c)  Within the Baltic, between 11th November 1918, and midnight, 30th November-1st December 1919.

(d)  In other foreign areas where British vessels have carried out mine clearance, between 11th November 1918, and midnight, 31st July-1st August 1919.

" SERBIA " — To all those in the Naval contingent, and in the attached hospital, serving under the orders of Rear Admiral Sir E. C. T. Troubridge during the defence of Belgrade, and the subsequent retreat through Serbia across the Albanian frontier to the sea, between 14th December 1914, and 1st January 1916, and who are eligible for no other clasp for the same service.

" SIBERIA, 1918-19 " — (a) To the naval personnel of the British Naval Mission in Siberia under Commander J. Wolfe Murray, up till 13th September 1919, and who are eligible for no other clasp for the same service.

(b) To the personnel of the naval detachment who were employed on the Kama River, Siberia, up till 28th June 1919, and who are eligible for no other clasps for the same service.

" RUSSIA " — (a) To-naval ranks and ratings who were employed with the armoured cars serving with the Russian forces throughout the war, and who are eligible for no other clasp for the same service.

(b) To members of the Naval Mission who were serving in South Russia 1919-1920, and who are eligible for no other clasp for the same service. The determining dates in this case will be announced later.

" BLACK SEA, 1918-20 " — To be awarded to Officers and men serving on board H.M. Ships and vessels which operated in the Black Sea or in the Bosphorus within the line joining Stefano Point and Farnar Burnu (at the Sea of Marmora exit from the Bosphorus) subsequent to 11th November 1918. The terminal date will be announced later.

This clasp is not to be held in addition to the clasp for " Russia " by members of the Naval Mission mentioned in paragraph (b), " Russia," above.

" CASPIAN " — To be awarded to all Naval Officers and men who were employed in the Caspian Sea, or on the shores thereof, between July 1918 and 27th August 1919



see also: Admiral Sir John Jellicoe's Despatch on the Battle of Jutland.




The British War Medal 1914 - 1920


Below: Some naming styles commonly encountered. (under construction)















The Nelson Bunker Hunt Problem.

     Many of the older collectors will tell you that  pre 1978 the price of a WW1 British War Medal was a function of its scrap silver price. For the vast majority it didn't  matter what was impressed on the edge, and the destiny of many BWMs  was the melting pot. This steady destruction of medals was exasperated by an order of magnitude in the late 70's when the Hunt family decided to try and corner the silver market, eventually driving the price from $2, to a peak of $50. Medals and silver coins were actively sought out during this time and destroyed for their silver content. Many broken trios in the form of  1914/15 stars and victory medals are victims of the silver bubble at the end of the 70's and the missing BWMs are gone forever. Accumulations of BWM discs (often from jewellers) which turn up today with the suspenders removed are hangovers from the silver bubble.  The suspension is snapped off and dumped because it is an alloy -  pure silver would be too soft for the job. Fortunately these can be repaired and are lucky survivors.
      BWMs to Indian units have had an even tougher time, with the relative value of the medal as scrap being much higher back on the sub-continent, hence BWMs to Indian units are not that common considering the numbers issued and complete trios even more difficult to find.

Below; From a jewellers scrap bag and both ready for the melting pot? : BWM disc to a Royal Fusilier killed on first day of the Gallipoli landings, "X" Beach. Also a low grade silver coin.



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