Meritorious Service Medal (Royal Navy)

Era: 1919 - Present

The Meritorious Service Medal (MSM Royal Navy) was introduced on 14th January 1919 until 1928 and originally intended to reward either specific acts of gallantry not in the presence of the enemy or for meritorious service performed by petty officers and ratings. The Meritorious Service Medal (Royal Navy) was superseded by the Empire Gallantry Medal in 1928, but resumed in 1977. It is now awarded to senior NCOs in the Royal Navy, Royal Marines, Women's Royal Naval Service and Queen Alexandra's Royal Naval Nursing Service.

To qualify for the award a recipient must complete a minimum of 27 years’ service and have already been awarded the Long Service Good Conduct Medal (LSGC). However, a maximum of 59 medals are awarded annually and so entitlement is not automatic even if the criteria are met.

The medal is identical to the army MSM and can only be distinguished by naming giving rank and name of ship.


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 edged with white, with central white stripe, or Crimson with centre and edges narrow white stripe (since 1977)

Original ribbon
Original ribbon
Ribbon since 1977
Ribbon since 1977

Suspender - Ornate

Type – Military medal

Eligibility – Senior petty officers of the Royal Navy, warrant officers and senior NCO’s of the Royal Marines, and equivalent ranks in the WRNS and QARNNS.

Awarded for – Meritorious service by those members who are of irreproachable character with at least 27 years of service and already hold the Long Service and Good Conduct Medal of their service

Established – 1919

Post nominals – None

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

Clasp / Bars – Bars were granted for second awards

Description – Silver medal, 36mm diameter. The obverse shows the effigy of the reigning monarch while the medal 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. Those issued in Canada also contain the inscription ‘CANADA’ on the reverse.


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)>

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