1939-1945 Star


This star was awarded for service in the Second World War between 3rd September 1939 and 2nd September 1945.

The recipient was awarded this star if their service period was terminated by their death or disability due to service. Also the award of a gallantry medal or mention in Despatched also produced the award of this medal, regardless of their service duration.

Royal Navy personnel had to complete 6 months service afloat in active operational areas.

Army personnel had to complete 6 months service in an operational command. Airborne troops qualified if they had participated in any airborne operations and had completed 2 months service in a fully operational unit.

RAF personnel had to participate in operations against the enemy providing that 2 months service had been completed in an operational unit. Non-aircrew personnel had to complete 6 months service in an area of operational army command.

Merchant Navy qualified if they completed 6 months service, and at least 1 voyage was made through an operational area.

Members of fighter aircraft crews who took part in the Battle of Britain (10 July to 31 October 1940) were awarded the "Battle of Britain" bar to this medal.


Materials:      The majority of the British medals and clasps are made of solid silver, though some were issue in bronze versions, mainly to Indian non-combatants.  The majority of the British campaign awards are circular, usually 36mm in diameter.

Ribbons:         Medals are worn suspended from their own specific ribbons. These were first made of silk but cotton was increasingly used as the nineteenth century developed.  Their own colours often have a symbolic significance: the equal stripes of the ‘1939 to 1945 Star,’ for example, are dark blue to represent the service of the Royal and Merchant Navies, red, to represent that of the Armies and light blue to represent that of Air Forces.

Ribbon width can vary slightly though it is generally 32mm wide.

Ribbon - The ribbon has three vertical stripes of dark blue, red and light blue. The dark blue stripe represents the Naval Forces and the Merchant Navy, the red stripe the Armies and the light blue stripe the Air Forces. The ribbon for this medal, along with those of the other Second World War campaign stars, is reputed to have been designed by King George VI, with the three equal bands representing the equal contributions towards victory of the Royal Navy, Army, and the Royal Air Force respectively.

1939 - 1945 Star ribbon
1939 - 1945 Star ribbon

TypeCampaign Medal

Eligibility – 6months operational Service (2 months for Aircrew)

Awarded for – Service.

CampaignSecond World War.

Clasps – Two issued.

Suspender - Ring

Description –The 1939–45 Star is a six–pointed star of yellow copper zinc alloy, with a height of 44mm and maximum width of 38mm.

The obverse has a central design of the Royal Cypher, surmounted by a crown. The cypher is surrounded by a circlet containing the words ‘The 1939–45 Star'.

The reverse is plain, with the recipient's name impressed only for Australians and South Africans.

Clasps are usually referred to as ‘bars’.  They are single-faced metal bars carried on a ribbon attached to the medal, indicating the recipient’s service in a particular campaign or battle.  The clasps carry side flanges to enable them to be attached to the medal and riveted to each other, so that new ones can be attached as earned.  Usually the first earned Clasp is closest to the medal, so that the latest earned should be at the top, although they can be found in the wrong order. 

Battle of Britain                    (10 July – 31 October 1940.)

Members of fighter aircraft crews who took part in the Battle of Britain were awarded this bar. In undress uniform, a silver-gilt rosette was worn on the medal ribbon to denote the award of this clasp.

Bomber Command Clasp to the 1939-45 Star.

The criteria for the Bomber Command Clasp require prior qualification for the 1939 to 1945 Star.

The Clasp to the 1939-45 Star is granted to the aircrew of Bomber Command who served for at least sixty days, or completed a tour of operations, on a Bomber Command operational unit and flew at least one operational sortie on a Bomber Command operational unit from the 3rd September, 1939, to the 8th May, 1945, inclusive.

Eligibility is extended to those members of Bomber Command aircrew who did not meet the qualifying criteria due to service being brought to an end by death, wounds or other disability due to service, service marked by a gallantry award or taken as a prisoner of war.

Foreign nationals commissioned or enlisted into British or, the then, Dominion Air Forces (e.g. Royal Canadian Air Force or Royal Australian Air Force) are eligible provided the individuals did not receive a similar award from their own Government.

Eligibility to the Bomber Command Clasp has no effect upon eligibility for World War Two recognition previously awarded and does not suggest automatic eligibility for any further awards.      

The award of the Clasp is to be denoted by a silver rose Emblem when the ribbon alone is worn. 

(See the Arctic Star Medal for more details on the issuing of the Bomber Command Clasp/bar.)


This guide will help you through all the parts and descriptions of military medals


Major L L Gordon ‘British Battles and Medals’

< gov.uk/medals-campaigns-descriptions-and-eligibility>

Some of the material on this page was also partially derived from

<en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ 1939-1945_Star>

Which are released under the terms of



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