Meritorious Service Medal (Royal Marines)

Era: 1849 - Present

The Meritorious Service Medal (MSM Royal Marines) was introduced on the 15th January 1849 and originally intended to recognise either specific acts of gallantry or distinguished service. It was later replaced by the Conspicuous Gallantry medal (CGM) in 1874.

To be eligible of the medal a Sergeant would require a minimum of 24 years’ service (with the last fourteen as a Sergeant), ‘with an irreproachable and meritorious character’. It was later extended to discharged Sergeants in 1872 when the qualification was reduced to 21 years. Also annuities not exceeding £20 a year might be granted in addition to the medal.

During the period of 1916-1919 Royal Marine NCOs could be awarded this medal immediately if they had performed especially meritorious service in difficult circumstances.

Following a revised warrant in 1977, the MSM Royal Marines was only awarded for long service and had an identical design as the MSM Royal Navy.


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 dark blue, or Crimson with centre and edges narrow white stripe (since 1977)


Meritorious Service Medal (Royal Marines) ribbon original
Meritorious Service Medal (Royal Marines) ribbon original
Meritorious Service Medal (Royal Marines) ribbon since 1977
Meritorious Service Medal (Royal Marines) ribbon since 1977


Suspender - Ornate

Type – Military medal

Awarded for – either specific acts of gallantry or distinguished service and had a minimum of 24 years, the last 14 years as Sergeant

Established – 1849

Naming – Recipient's details are shown on the medal's rim

Description – The silver, 36mm diameter medal has the profile of the sovereign in the uniform of an Admiral or Field Marshal, signifying that the service was afloat or on land with a Naval Brigade on the obverse. 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.


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



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