Naval General Service Medal (NGSM) (1915)

Era: 1915 - 1962

This medal was instated on 6th August, 1915, as a campaign medal to recognise service by the Royal Navy and Royal Marines in minor campaigns that would otherwise not earn a specific campaign medal.  There are three distinctive issues of this medal, first with the head of King George V and the second with that of King George VI and the last that bears the crowned bust of Queen Elizabeth II.

Permission was granted to recipients of a ‘Mention in Despatches’ (M.I.D) during any of the operations for which medal was awarded after 11th August, 1920, to wear a bronze leaf emblem on the ribbon.

The Army/Air Force equivalent was the General Service Medal (1918). Both these medals were replaced by the General Service Medal in 1962.


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 – 32mm wide, Crimson with three white stripes.

Naval General Service Medal 1915 ribbon
Naval General Service Medal 1915 ribbon
Naval General Service Medal 1915 with Oak Leaf for a Mention in Despatches
Naval General Service Medal 1915 with Oak Leaf for a Mention in Despatches

Type – Campaign Medal.

Eligibility – Naval and Marine forces.

Awarded for – Campaign service.

Campaign – Minor campaigns 1915–62.

Established – 6th August 1915.

Designer – Miss Margaret Wisner.

Suspender – Straight (plain)

Naming – First issue is named in rather large impressed block capitals.  The second issue is named in very small impressed block capitals.

Clasps – Seventeen issued.

Description – Silver disk, 36mm diameter. The reverse of the medal has Britannia in a chariot pulled by two sea-horses, with her left hand resting on the Union Shield.

The obverse bears the image of three successive Sovereigns, King George V, King George VI and Queen Elizabeth II.

First issue bears the head ok King George V in Naval uniform with the legend ‘GEORGIVS V BRITT : OMN : REX ET IND : IMP:’.  The second issue has the crowned coinage head of King George VI and bears the legend ‘GEORGIVS VI G : BR : OMN: REX ET INDIAE IMP:’ The third issue bears the crowned bust of Queen Elizabeth II facing right with the legend ‘ELIZABETH II DEI GRATIA REGINA F.D’.

Clasps are usually referred to as ‘bars’.  They are single-faced metal bars carried on a ribbon attached to the medal, indicating the recipient’s service in a particular campaign or battle.  The clasps carry side flanges to enable them to be attached to the medal and riveted to each other, so that new ones can be attached as earned.  Usually the first earned Clasp is closest to the medal, so that the latest earned should be at the top, although they can be found in the wrong order. 

Persian Gulf 1909-1914                                   (19th October, 1909 – 1st August, 1914).

Awarded for service against gun-runner, pirates and slavers in the Persian Gulf, Straits of Ormuz.

Iraq 1919-20                                                    (1st July – 17th November, 1920).

Award was only granted to officers and men, who served in River Gun-boats within the boundaries OF Iraq between 1st July and 17th November, 1920.  Three of the ships included for this award were H.M.S Clio, Espiegle, and Triad.

N.W Persia 1920                                             (10th August – 31st December, 1920).

Awarded to officers who served in the Royal Naval mission under Commodore D. T. Norris in the North West Persia.

Palestine.                                                        (19th April, 1936 – 3rd September, 1939).

Awarded for service in connection with the Military Forces in Palestine between 19th April, 1936 and 3rd September, 1939.

S.E. Asia 1945-46                                         

To qualify for this award a member of the Naval Forces must have served a total of 28 days afloat within five miles of the operational areas as stated below.  Naval personnel who served on duty ashore qualified under Army rules.  The qualifying period for official visits and inspections was one week.  Naval air crew qualified if they had performed on operational sortie over any of the land operational areas.

The grant of a King’s Commendation, Mention in Despatches or other British honour for service rendered within the qualifying zones and dates qualified the recipient for the award.

The qualifying areas and dates are:

  1. Java and Sumatra from 3rd September, 1945 to 30th November, 1946, both dates inclusive.
  2. French Indo-China from 3rd September, 1945, to 28th January, 1946, both dates inclusive.

Minesweeping 1945-7.

Qualifying period for this award was six months naval minesweeping service afloat after 3rd September, 1945.

The grant of a King’s Commendation, Mention in Despatches or other British honour for minesweeping service within the qualifying zones and dates qualified the recipient for the award.

Palestine                                                         (27th September, 1945 – 30th June, 1948).

The King and the Committee on grants and Honours awarded this bar for service in Palestine.

The qualifying period was given as (1) 28 days afloat in ships employed on Palestine Patrol against illegal immigration, or (2) in close support of the defined Army Forces, which means service within three miles of any qualifying land areas.

Malaya                                                           (16th June to 14th July, 1948).

Awarded for service in the Malaya and Singapore in the period during the state of emergency.

Yangtze 1949                                                

Awarded to member of the three services for operations in the Yangtze River against Chinese Communist Forces.

Bomb and Mine Clearance 1945-46.

            Awarded for operations in specified areas.

Bomb and Mine Clearance 1945-53.

            Awarded for operations in specified areas.

Bomb and Mine Clearance Mediterranean.

            Awarded for operations in the Mediterranean (mostly Valletta harbour).

Canal Zone                                        (October, 1951, and October, 1954.)

Awarded for service in the Suez Canal Zone between October, 1951, and October, 1954. (Authorised 2003).


            EOKA operations 1955-59

Near East

            Awarded for operations on the Suez Canal, 1956.

Arabian Peninsular. 1957-1960.

            Awarded for service against dissidents and cross-border raids.


Awarded for service in Brunei, North Borneo and Sarawak, December 1962.


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


Major L L Gordon ‘British Battles and Medals’

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

< Naval_General_Service_Medal_(1915)

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