Gulf Medal

Era: Gulf War

Approved in 1992, the Gulf War Medal is a campaign medal awarded to officers and men of British forces who served in Saudi Arabia and Kuwait during the ‘Operation Granby’ (Liberation of Kuwait, following the Iraqi invasion) in 1990-91, over 45,000 of these medals were awarded to personnel involved in this Operation.  This medal was also awarded to approximately 1,500 civilians including American, Australian, British, Canadian, New Zealand, employees who worked at Marconi Defence Systems and British Aerospace at Dharan and Riyadh.

Personnel were awarded the Gulf Medal for 30 days continuous service in the Middle East (in a defined area of operations, including Cyprus) between 2nd August, 1990 and 7th March, 1991. Full details of Area of Operations are defined in the regulations are laid out in DCI Gen 185/91.

The Gulf Medal with Clasp ‘16 Jan to 28 Feb 1991’ was awarded to personnel for seven days continuous service in the Theatre of Operations as defined in the regulations between these dates, which signify the dates of the actual war.

The Gulf Medal with Clasp ‘2 Aug 1990’ was awarded to the members of the Kuwait Liaison Team who were in Kuwait on 2nd August 1990, the date of the Iraqi invasion.


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 – A wide central stripe of sand coloured yellow flanked on each side by vertical stripes at each edge of dark blue, red and light blue. These all being symbolic to the forces; dark blue – Navy, red – Army and light blue – Royal Air Force.

Gulf Medal ribbon
Gulf Medal ribbon

Type – Campaign medal.

Eligibility – British forces and civilians.

Awarded for –   Campaign service.

Campaign – Kuwait and Saudi Arabia 1990-91.

Established – 1992.

Naming – Impressed small sans-serif capitals, no punctuation.

Total Awarded –   6,351 issued to the Royal Navy, 537 to the Royal Marines, 38,831to the Army, 13,968 to the Royal Air Force.                              

Clasps – Two awarded.

Description – The Gulf Medal is circular, 36mm Diameter and made of Cupro-nickel. The obverse of the medal features the crowned effigy of Queen Elizabeth II and the wording “ELIZABETH II DEI GRATIA REGINA FID DEF”. The reverse of the medal bears the inscription “THE GULF MEDAL 1990-91” and bears a modern ‘combined operations’ badge of an anchor, eagle and an automatic rifle.

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. 

‘2 Aug 1990’

Awarded to the members of the Kuwait Liaison Team who were in Kuwait on this date.

‘16 Jan-28 Feb 1991’

Awarded for seven days continuous service between these dates in the designated Theatre of Operations. This clasp signifies service during the actual war.

In undress uniform, a rosette is worn on the medal ribbon to denote the award of either clasp.


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


Major L L Gordon ‘British Battles and Medals’


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

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