Volunteer Officers' Decoration

Era: 1892 - 1908

Instituted by Queen Victoria’s Royal Warrant on 25th July 1892 the Volunteer Officers' Decoration was also known as the Volunteer Decoration was awarded for long and meritorious service by officers of the United Kingdom’s Volunteer Force.

The qualifying period of service was twenty years. Half of any previous service in the Regular Army also counted towards qualification. Recipients had to have been recommended for the award by the Commanding Officer of their Corps, and duly certified by the District Military Authorities in which the Corps was located as having been efficient and thoroughly capable officers, in every way deserving of such a decoration. In order to preserve the purity of the decoration, the name of any person on whom it had been conferred who was subsequently convicted of any act derogatory to his honour as an officer and gentleman, was immediately erased from the registry of individuals upon whom the decoration had been conferred.

On 24th May 1894 the grant of the decoration was extended by Royal Warrant to commissioned officers of Volunteer Forces throughout the British Empire, defined as being India, the Dominion of Canada, the Crown Colonies and the Crown Dependencies. A separate new decoration was instituted, the Volunteer Officers' Decoration for India and the Colonies. This decoration was similar in design to the Volunteer Officers' Decoration, but bore the Royal Cypher "VRI" (Victoria Regina Imperatrix) instead of "VR" (Victoria Regina).

Even so, some Crown Dependencies awarded the Volunteer Officers' Decoration instead of the Colonial version, until the Efficiency Decoration was instituted in September 1930.

In the United Kingdom it was superseded by the Territorial Decoration, on formation of the Territorial Force in 1908.


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 Green (suspended from an oak bar broach) Members of the Honourable Artillery Company were granted a distinctive ribbon in 1906, half scarlet, half dark blue with yellow edges – King Edwards racing colours

Volunteer Officers' Decoration ribbon
Volunteer Officers' Decoration ribbon
Volunteer Officers' Decoration (HAC)
Volunteer Officers' Decoration (HAC)

Suspender - Ring

Type – Military long service decoration

Eligibility – Officers of the Volunteer Force

Awarded for – Twenty years meritorious service

Established – 1892

Post nominals – Recipients were entitled to the post nominal letters VD.

Total Awarded – 4,710

Description – Oval silver & sliver-gilt skeletal medal, height 42 mm, max width 35mm.  The medal obverse has the Royal cypher and crown in the centre, within a wreath of oak leaves. It is suspended by a plain ring with an oak leaf bar broach fitted to the top of the ribbon. Two versions of the Victorian decoration were produced, differing in the monogram – VR for United Kingdom recipients and VRI for recipients in the dominions and colonies.

The reverse is plain with the hallmarks impressed at the bottom. The decoration was awarded unnamed, but was frequently unofficially engraved in various styles


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


Bigbury Mint

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

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