Distinguished Flying Medal (DFM)

The Distinguished Flying Medal was a military decoration awarded to personnel of the Royal Air Force (United Kingdom) and the other services, and formerly also to personnel of other Commonwealth countries, below commissioned rank, for "an act or acts of valour, courage or devotion to duty whilst flying in active operations against the enemy".

The medal was established on 3rd June, 1918. It was the other ranks' equivalent to the Distinguished Flying Cross, which was awarded to commissioned officers and Warrant Officers (although WOs could also be awarded the DFM), although it ranked below the DFC in order of precedence, between the Military Medal and the Air Force Medal. Recipients of the Distinguished Flying Medal are entitled to use the post-nominal letters "DFM".

During World War II, 6,637 DFMs were awarded, with 60 first award bars. Some 165 were awarded to aircrew from other non- Commonwealth countries.

As a result of the 1993 review of gallantry awards and changes to the operational gallantry award system, the Distinguished Flying Medal has been replaced by the Distinguished Flying Cross which is now available to both officers and other ranks.


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 – Consists of alternate violet and white stripes leaning 45 degrees to the left. A violet stripe is to appear in the bottom left and upper right corners when viewed on the wearer's chest. (Note that the original ribbon was purple and white horizontal stripes until July 1919.)

Distinguished Flying Medal ribbon (pre 1919)
Distinguished Flying Medal ribbon (pre 1919)
Distinguished Flying Medal ribbon (post 1919)
Distinguished Flying Medal ribbon (post 1919)

Suspender – Ornate

Designer - E Carter Preston

Type – Gallantry medal

Eligibility – British and (formerly) Commonwealth forces

Awarded for – exceptional valour, courage or devotion to duty whilst flying in active operations against the enemy

Established – 3rd June, 1918

Post nominals - DFM

Clasps – Further awards are signified by a straight slip-on silver bar with an eagle in the centre.

Description – An oval, silver medal, 35 mm wide and 41 mm long. The obverse shows a bareheaded effigy of the reigning sovereign, ie: King George V, facing left and the legend: “GEORGEIVS V BRITT: OMN: REX ET IND: IMP:” or King George VI, facing left and the legend: “GEORGEIVS VID: G: BR: OMN: REX F.D: IND: IMP:”

The reverse shows Athena Nike seated on an aeroplane, a hawk rising from her right arm above the words “FOR COURAGE,” all within a laurel wreath. Originally undated, but the date “1918” was added to the reverse with the advent of the George VI.

For subsequent acts meriting the DFM, a bar was awarded to be worn on the ribbon of the medal.

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>

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