Order of British India (First & Second Class)

Instituted in 1837, the Order of British India, known as 'Order of British India' until September 1939 was an order of merit which was presented for long, faithful and service by the British East India Company. The Order of British India was included as a part of the British honours system in the years 1859. However, the order of merit was disused after the partition of India and the Indian independence in the year 1947.

The Order of British India was normally presented for distinguished service on a particular campaign. However it was also granted to officers for providing service between 20 and 30 years.

The Order was awarded in two classes: first and second class. The recipients of the second class were entitled to the title Bahadur (hero) and recipients of the first class were entitled to use the title Sardar Bahadur (heroic leader).


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 – Worn around the neck, the base colour of the ribbon was sky blue but altered to crimson in 1838. From 1939 onwards the First Class ribbon had a crimson background with two thin lines of light blue at the centre, while the Second Class ribbon had a crimson background and a single vertical line.

Order of British India 1837-8 ribbon
Order of British India 1837-8 ribbon
Order of British India 1838-1939 ribbon
Order of British India 1838-1939 ribbon
First Class ribbon 1939-47
First Class ribbon 1939-47
Second Class ribbon 1939-47
Second Class ribbon 1939-47

Suspender - Ring

Type – Order of Merit

Eligibility – Officers of the British Indian Army holding a viceroy's commission, Indian Officers of Indian States Forces, Frontier Corps and Military Police

Awarded for – Long, faithful and honourable service

Established – 17th April 1837

Post Nominals – The recipients of both classes of medals also used the post-nominal letters OBI.

Description – Gold star medal, height 42mm, max width 38mm. – The First Class award is a star with a crown between the upper two points and a blue enamelled centre with a gold lion surrounded by the wording ‘ORDER OF BRITISH INDIA’ enclosed in a laurel wreath. The Second Class award is smaller, with a dark blue centre of enamel and with no crown.

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



Medal Year Book 2006

< gov.uk/medals-campaigns-descriptions-and-eligibility>

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

<en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ Order_of_British_India >

Which are released under the terms of



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