The Distinguished Flying Cross is a military decoration awarded to personnel of the United Kingdom's Royal Air Force and other services, and formerly to officers of other Commonwealth countries, for "an act or acts of valour, courage or devotion to duty whilst flying in active operations against the enemy".
The award was established on 3 June 1918, shortly after the formation of the RAF. It was originally awarded to air force commissioned officers and to Warrant Officers. During the Second World War it was also awarded to Royal Artillery officers from the British Army serving on attachment to the RAF as pilots-cum-artillery directors. Since the Second World War, the award has been open to army and naval aviation officers, and since 1993 to other ranks as well; the Distinguished Flying Medal, previously awarded to other ranks, has been discontinued. Recipients of the Distinguished Flying Cross are entitled to use the post-nominal letters "DFC". A bar is added to the ribbon for holders of the DFC who received a second award.
During the Great War, a total of approximately 1,100 DFCs were awarded, with 70 first bars and 3 second bars.
During the Second World War, 20,354 DFCs were awarded (the most of any award), with approximately 1,550 first bars and 45 second bars.
Honorary awards were made on 964 occasions to aircrew from other non-commonwealth countries.
In 2008, Flight Lieutenant Michelle Goodman became the first woman to receive the DFC.
The cross is a cross flory and is 2? inches wide. The horizontal and bottom bars are terminated with bumps, the upper bar with a rose. The front of the medal features aeroplane propellers superimposed on the vertical arms of the cross and wings on the horizontal arms. In the centre is a laurel wreath around the RAF monogram surmounted by an Imperial Crown.
The reverse features the Royal Cypher in the centre and the year of issue engraved on the lower arm. The medal is issued named.
The ribbon was originally white with purple broad horizontal stripes, but changed in 1919 to the current white with purple broad diagonal stripes.
The medal was designed by Edward Carter Preston.
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