Meritorious Service Medal (Army)

Era: 1845 - Present

Instituted on 19th December 1845 the Meritorious Service Medal was awarded to the British Army and of Queen Alexandra's Royal Naval Nursing Service, to recognise meritious service by Warrant Officers and senior NCOs (Sergeant or above).  To qualify for the medal it would require 21 years’ service (18 if disabled), and had earned the Long Service and Good Conduct Medal. The award was limited to 40 who could wear it at any given time. The number was increased to 75 in 1928 and to 100 in 1939.

During 1916–1919, army NCOs could be awarded the Meritorious Service Medal immediately for meritorious service in the field. They could also be awarded the medal for acts of non-combat gallantry. Awards for gallantry ceased after 7th September 1928, as they were honoured by the Empire Gallantry Medal.

Recipients were also granted an annuity, the amount of which was based on rank. A sum of £2,000 a year was set aside for distribution to recipients in the form of annuities not exceeding £20, paid for life to NCOs of the rank of Sergent and above.


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 – Plain crimson (till 1916) or Crimson with white edges (1916-17) or Crimson with centre and edges narrow white stripe (since Aug 1917)

First type ribbon
First type ribbon
Second type ribbon
Second type ribbon
Third type (current) medal ribbon
Third type (current) medal ribbon

Suspender - Ornate

Type – Military medal

Eligibility – Warrant officers and non-commissioned officers above the rank of Sergeant

Awarded for – 20 years of service and already hold the Long Service and Good Conduct Medal of their service

Established – 1845

Post nominals - None

Naming – Recipient's rank, name, and regiment are engraved around the rim

Description – Silver medal, 36mm diameter. The obverse depicts the effigy of the monarch of the time. The reverse shows the inscription ‘FOR MERITORIOUS SERVICE’ on three lines, encircled by two laurel leaves that are tied at the bottom with a bow and separated at the top by an Imperial Crown. King Edward VII and King George V medals bear the word ‘CANADA’ above the crown for those awarded to members in Canada.


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



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

< Meritorious_Service_Medal_(United_Kingdom) >

Which are released under the terms of


Search for a name in our archive

Please enter a surname

Small Medium Large Landscape Portrait