Instituted by the Honourable East India Company in 1837 the Indian Order of Merit (IOM) is a military and civilian decoration of British India and one of the oldest awards for gallantry of the British Empire and initially it had three divisions. Twenty years later it became an official British award when the administration of India passed to the Crown after the Indian Mutiny. The award was renamed in 1902 following the introduction of the prestigious British order of the same name. The Indian Order of Merit was the only gallantry medal available to Native soldiers between 1837 and 1907 when the Indian Distinguished Service Medal was introduced, and when the Victoria Cross was opened to native soldiers in 1911. Both divisions of the order were removed when India became independent in 1947.
The Order had three classes until 1912, for which medals were awarded in silver, silver and gold and gold respectively, and promotion from one class to a higher was achieved by further acts of bravery. The original object of the award was to "afford personal reward for personal bravery without reference to any claims founded on mere length of service and general good conduct"
A civil division was available in two classes between 1902 and 1939, when it was reduced to one class. The civil medal was rarely awarded.
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 – Dark blue with crimson edges
Suspender - Curvilinear
Type – Military decoration
Eligibility – Indian citizens in the armed forces and civilians (civilian division)
Awarded for – Gallantry
Established – 1837
Post nominals - Recipients receive the post nominal letters IOM.
Description – Different classes were denoted by the composition of the star noted below:
Third Class - Eight pointed dull silver star with blue circle, surrounded by silver laurels, in the middle, with crossed swords and the words Awarded for Valour, this was changed to Awarded for Gallantry in 1944 on the obverse of the medal.
Awarded for "personal reward for personal bravery without reference to any claims founded on mere length of service and general good conduct"
Second Class - Eight pointed shiny silver star with blue circle, surrounded by gold laurels in the middle, with crossed swords and the words “Awarded for Valour”, this was changed to “Awarded for Gallantry” in 1944 on the obverse of the medal.
This award was obtained by those who already possess the third and for similar services.
First Class - Eight pointed gold star with blue circle, surrounded by gold laurels in the middle, with crossed swords and the words “Awarded for Valour”, this was changed to “Awarded for Gallantry” in 1944 on the obverse of the medal.
To be obtained in like manner only by those who possess the third and second classes.
Medal Year Book 2006
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