Royal Observer Corps Medal

Era: 1941 - 1995

Instituted on the 31st January 1950 by King George VI but not awarded until 1953 the Royal Observer Corps Medal is a long service medal awarded to recognise long service by members of the Royal Observer Corps relating to service between 1941 and December 1995, when the Royal Observer Corps was stood down.

Prior to World War II, Royal Observer Corps (ROC) personnel were classed as Special Constables, and retained by local constabularies and qualified for the award of the Special Constable Long Service Medal following a period of twelve years continuous service. However, this qualification and award ceased in 1941, when Royal Air Force Fighter Command assumed sole responsibility for the Royal Observers Corps. Consequently in 1950, King George VI, as Air Commodore in Chief of the Royal Observer Corp, granted permission for the award of the Royal Observer Corps Medal in recognition of long service.

For part-time personnel, the medal was awarded to those having completed twelve years of continuous service. Full-time service on the part of Royal Observer Corps Officers counted for half the qualification period for part-time personnel; therefore requiring twenty four years’ service to qualify for a medal or clasp, but with any previous part-time service counting in full.


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 – Pale blue with a broad central sliver-grey stripe edged in dark blue, representing the pale blue of the daytime sky, with a searchlight beam in a night.

Royal Observer Corps Medal ribbon
Royal Observer Corps Medal ribbon

Suspender - Ornate

Type – Civil Defence

Eligibility – Royal Observer Corps personnel

Awarded for – 12 Years’ Service

Established – 1950

Naming – Recipient's rank, initials and surname were stamped into the medal's edge

Bars / Clasps - Each subsequent service period of twelve years was recognised by the award of a clasp depicting a winged crown

Description – Silver cupro-nickel circular medal 36mm diameter. The obverse bears the effigy of the reigning monarch, while the medals reverse shows a coast-watcher of Elizabethan times, holding a torch aloft alongside a signal fire, with other signal fires in the background, with the inscription; ‘FOREWARNED IS FOREARMED’ on a scroll beneath the figure, together with the inscription; ‘ROYAL OBSERVER CORPS MEDAL’.


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