Military Cross (MC)

The Military Cross (MC) was created on 28th December 1914 for commissioned offers of the substantive rank of Captain or below and for Warrant officers. It was instituted shortly after the outbreak of the Great War of 1914-18 as there was no gallantry awards lesser than the Victoria Cross and the Distinguished Service Order, for junior Army officers and Warrant officers.

The award is a third-level military decoration and in 1931 the award was extended to Majors and also members of the Royal Air Force for actions on the ground. Since a review of the Honour and Awards system 1993 it can now be awarded to officers and other ranks of the British and Commonwealth Armies and in 1979, the Queen approved the award of the medal posthumously.

The Military Cross (MC) is granted in recognition of "an act or acts of exemplary gallantry during active operations against the enemy on land to all members, of any rank in Our Armed Forces." Bars were awarded to the MC in recognition of the performance of further acts of gallantry meriting the award and recipients of a bar continue to use post nominal letters M.C.

Military Cross George V: 37,104 awarded.
Military Cross George VI: 10,386 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 – Deep purple centre with two equal stripes of white on edges

Military Cross medal ribbon
Military Cross medal ribbon

Suspender - Straight

Type – Military decoration

Eligibility – British, (formerly) Commonwealth, and allied forces

Awarded for – ... gallantry during active operations against the enemy.

Established – 1914

Post nominals - recipients entitled to use post nominal letters MC

Total Awarded – Over 50,000

Clasps / Bars – Personnel who perform a further act of such gallantry which would have merited a second MC will be issued with a silver bar ornamented by the crown.

Description – Height 46mm; max width 44mm. Ornamental silver cross with straight arms terminating in broad finials, suspended from plain (straight) suspension bar. The obverse is decorated with imperial crowns, with the Royal Cypher in centre and there are some differences between different era’s Military crosses -

The George V has King George V's (Reigned 1910-1936) royal cipher in the centre

The George VI has King George VI's (Reigned 1936-52) royal cipher in the centre

The ER has Queen Elizabeth II's (Reigned 1952-Present) royal cipher in the centre

The only other difference in medals is that technically there are 2 different GVI Military Crosses as after 1940 the date of the award is engraved on the lower arm. These were always issued plain on the rear face but many recipients chose to have them 'named, dated and placed'.

Reverse is plain, but from 1938 the name of the recipient and year of issue has been engraved on lower limb of cross.

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



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