The information recording soldiers serving with British Forces and their eligibility for campaign medals is contained in the Medal Rolls 1914-1920. The original documents are held by The National Archives, Kew, London under the reference WO329. They have now been digitised by the Naval & Military Press and published for the first time. This now allows examination of these important records without a trip to Kew to view the original printed Rolls.
The Medal Rolls were not damaged by enemy bombing in the Second World War. For this reason these Rolls form the only more or less complete list of soldiers who, by the fact that they were eligible to receive a WW1 medal, can be considered to have “participated” in the First World War.
The Medal Rolls were created as lists of those individuals entitled to one or more campaign medals and list individuals by the military unit they were serving with at the time of their entitlement. The information contained in the listings can provide an additional “remark” or detail for an individual soldier which was hitherto unknown.
As with our Soldiers Died in the Great War disc, all fields of information are searchable, enabling an individual soldier to be located with ease without knowledge of his regiment or corps.
The Medal Rolls were the source material for the Medal Index Cards. During transcription much information was omitted and many errors and corruptions of a soldier’s record were made. Therefore, the Medal Rolls
present a more complete and accurate survey
of a soldier’s military career.
A certificate of medal entitlement, with an individual’s service details, complete with historical information and a photographic reproduction of the medal(s), will be available to print in colour.
The Rolls can contain some or all of the following information for each recipient of a medal:
• Regiment or Unit
• Battalion or Sub Unit
• Medal Awarded
• Previous service – Unit, rank, number
• Date of Disembarkation
• Theatre of War
• Remarks and Extra Information
Medals included in the Medal Rolls 1914-1920
This award was sanctioned in 1917 for members of the British Expeditionary Force for services during the first phase of the war. It was issued to those who served in France and Belgium between 5th August 1914 and 22nd November 1914. Recipients of this star who were under fire during the period were entitled to wear a bar, sanctioned in 1919, which was sewn onto the ribbon; this bar simply had the relevant qualifying dates on it. This award is incomplete without the British War Medal and Victory Medal, as these two awards were automatically issued to those with this star.
This award is identical to the 1914 Star, except for the obverse centre, which has the date ‘1914-15’ instead of ‘1914’, and the two months are omitted. The 1914-15 award was issued to all those who served in a theatre of war between 5th August 1914 and 31st December 1915, except those who already qualified for the 1914 Star by virtue of their service with the British Expeditionary Force. This award is incomplete without the British War Medal and Victory Medal, as these two awards were automatically issued to those with this star.
British War Medal 1914-20
The basic qualification for the award was service in any of the three armed services, any Commonwealth or Imperial formation, or in certain recognised voluntary organisations.
No clasps were issued, the medal applying to all theatres of war, including some categories of service in the United Kingdom. This award is usually found with the Victory Medal of 1914-18, but can be awarded singly. The medal was issued for some operations after the 1918 Armistice.
Victory Medal 1914-19
This bronze medal was awarded to all those who received the 1914 or 1914-15 Star and to most of those who received the British War Medal of 1914-20; it could not be awarded alone. The main qualification for the award was any service in a theatre of war between 5th August 1914 and 11th November 1918. Those who were mentioned in dispatches between August 1914 and August 1920 wore a bronze oak leaf on the ribbon.
Territorial Force War Medal 1914-19
To qualify for this medal, which was only issued in bronze, the recipient had to be
a member of the TF on or before 30th September 1914, and had to have served outside the United Kingdom between 4th August 1914 and 11th November 1918. However, members of the TF who qualified for the 1914 or 1914-15 Stars were not eligible to receive the award, which was worn after the Victory Medal. Some 34,000 medals were issued, making it the scarcest campaign award for the First World War.