Virtual Museum - Campaign Medals from WWI and WWII

New Zealanders in the RFC, RAF and RNZAF who participated in WWI and WWII were normally issued with medals, regardless of rank, for each campaign they fought in.  These were awarded to personnel who meet the minimum service requirement based on time and location. Until the end of the Second World War, New Zealand service personnel were awarded British Campaign Medals.  Since that time, however, a number of specific New Zealand Campaign Medals have been created.  The medals depicted here were the most common medals received and are separate from Honours and Awards (such as the Victoria Cross, or Distinguished Flying Cross, for example).  They are readily available for acquisition by collectors.

Replica Medals.  Given that original medals are worth more than replicas, it is important to be able to recognise the differences.  For example, you won't want to pay NZ$450.00 for an Air Crew Europe Star only to discover it is not original and therefore worth only a fraction of the price.  To assist other collectors, I have put a page together that shows some of these differences.  To view it, click here!

World War I
1914-1915 Star.  This medal was awarded to servicemen and servicewomen who served between August 1914 and December 1915, provided they had not qualified for the 1914 Star.  This included service at Gallipoli.

British War Medal (obverse and reverse).  This medal was instituted in 1919 to recognise the successful conclusion of the 1914 - 18 War. Its coverage was later extended to recognise service until 1920, mainly in mine clearing operations at sea.

Victory Medal (obverse and reverse).  This medal was issued to all those who had already qualified for the 1914 or 1914-15 Stars, and to most persons who had already qualfied for the British War Medal. The Victory Medal is distinguished by its unique ‘double rainbow’ ribbon.


World War II
1939-45 Star.   The 1939-1945 Star is the first in a series of eight campaign stars instituted in 1945 to recognise service in the Second World War.  It was awarded for six months service in specified operational areas.  Those whose service was shortened by death, injury or capture or who were awarded a decoration or mention in despatches also qualified for the medal.  This bronze six-pointed star has a circular centre with the GRI/VI monogram, surmounted by the Royal crown, and inscribed 'The 1939-1945 Star'. The star has a height of 44mm and maximum width of 38mm.  The 1939-1945 Star was issued unengraved to New Zealand service persons, as were other Second World War campaign medals awarded for service for New Zealand. The same no-engraving policy was applied by other British Commonwealth countries, except for Australia and South Africa.  The ribbon has equal stripes of dark blue, red and light blue, symbolising the Navy, Army and Air Force, respectively.  One clasp, ‘Battle of Britain’ was awarded for aircrew who saw service during the Battle of Britain in 1940.

  Atlantic Star.  This medal was awarded to personnel who served an additional six months in Home (UK), Atlantic or North Russian waters after first qualifying for the 1939 - 45 Star.  This bronze six-pointed star has a circular centre with the GRI/VI monogram, surmounted by the Royal crown, and inscribed 'The Atlantic Star'. The star has a height of 44mm and maximum width of 38mm.  Personnel qualifying for the Atlantic Star and the France and Germany Star and/or the Air Crew Europe Star were awarded the first star they qualified for, and a clasp in respect of the second (and third) star.  The ribbon is watered silk coloured blue, white and green. These colours symbolise the ocean.  Two clasps, ‘Air Crew Europe’ and ‘France and Germany’ were awarded with this medal.

. Air Crew Europe Star.  The Air Crew Europe Star is granted for operational flying from United Kingdom bases over Europe (including the United Kingdom) from the 3rd September, 1939, to the 5th June, 1944 (inclusive).  Two clasps, ‘Atlantic’ and ‘France and Germany’ were awarded with this medal.  Partly because of the high mortality rate of personnel eligible for this medal, it is the most sought after campaign medal by collectors.  The Regulations were as follows:

Airborne Service

  1. The qualification for army personnel who were posted for aircrew duties (para. 6) is four months' (120 days') service (except as in para. (ii) below) in a R.A.F. operational unit, 60 days of which was service in an operational unit engaged in operational flying over the area defined above. At least one qualifying sortie must have been made during the period of 60 days. The Air Crew Europe Star may not be awarded until the 1939-45 Star has been qualified for by either
    1. 60 days' service in an air operational unit in addition to the 60 days required for the Air Crew Europe Star, or
    2. not less than 180 days' operational service elsewhere, in addition to the 60 days' service required for the Air Crew Europe Star (notwithstanding the grant of a special award under para. 10(i) or 15).
  2. In cases where before joining an air operational unit, operational service of over four months (but under 180 days) has been rendered elsewhere, service in the air operational unit may be added to this former service in order to qualify for the 1939-45 Star under the 180 days' rule, and service may then be aggregate to qualify for the Air Crew Europe Star.

Notes.

  1. Although air service may be added to army service to qualify for the 1939-45 Star under the 180 days' rule, army service may not be added to air service to qualify for this award under the 60 days' rule.
  2. The rules for counting time spent as a prisoner of war or evading capture, or after escape or liberation and the conditions of the special award of this star are stated in Section I.

Clasps (Alternative Awards)

  1. Personnel qualifying for the Air Crew Europe, the France and Germany or the Atlantic Star, or two of these stars, will be awarded only the campaign star for which they first qualified. They will, however, be awarded a clasp to show that they rendered qualifying service for a second star. A further clasp will not be awarded to those who rendered service which would have qualified for the third star.
  2. A silver rose emblem, denoting the award of the clasp, will be worn on the riband of the Campaign Star awarded, when the star itself is not worn.
  3. Personnel who made sorties against targets on land and at sea from the same unit do not thereby qualify for both the Air Crew Europe Star and the Atlantic Star. In such cases the star appropriate to the normal function of the unit at the material time will be awarded without a clasp, except when the latter has been earned by other service. Cases of difficulty in applying this rule will be referred to the War Office (A.G. 4 Medals) for decision before an award is made.
Africa Star.  This medal was awarded for service in North Africa between June 1940 and May 1943.  The ribbon's colours represent the Navy (dark blue), the Army (red) and Air Force (light blue), which are set on a cream-yellow background (symbolising the sand). There were three clasps awarded with this: North Africa 1942-43, 8th Army and 1st Army.

Pacific Star.  The Pacific Star was awarded for operational service in the Pacific between 8 December 1941 and 2 September 1945.  This medal was also awarded for certain specified service in China, Hong Kong, Malaya and Sumatra: between 8 December 1941 and 25 December 1941 (for Hong Kong); between 8 December 1941 and 15 February 1942 (for China and Malaya); and between 8 December 1941 and 23 March 1942 (for Sumatra). Second World War service in China, Hong Kong, Malaya and Sumatra after the above end dates was recognised by the award of the Burma Star.  Personnel qualifying for both the Pacific Star and the Burma Star were awarded the first star they qualified for, and a clasp in respect of the second star.  The centre of the ribbon is dark green (symbolising the jungle) with a central yellow stripe (symbolising the beaches). On the outer edges are wide stripes of red (representing the Army), with narrow stripes of dark blue and light blue (representing the Navy and Air Force) between the stripes of dark green and red.  One clasp, ‘Burma’ was awarded with this medal.

Burma Star.  The Burma Star was awarded for service in the Burma campaign from 11 December 1941 to 2 September 1945. This medal was also awarded for certain specified service in China, Hong Kong, Malaya and Sumatra: between 26 December 1941 and 2 September 1945 (for Hong Kong); between 16 February 1942 and 2 September 1945 (for China and Malaya); and between 24 March 1942 and 2 September 1945 (for Sumatra). Second World War service in China, Hong Kong, Malaya and Sumatra after 8 December 1941 but prior to the the above start dates was recognised by the award of the Pacific Star.   Personnel qualifying for both the Burma Star and the Pacific Star were awarded the first star they qualified for, and a clasp in respect of the second star.  The centre of the ribbon is red (representing the Commonwealth forces) with outer stripes of dark blue (representing the British forces). The dark blue bands each have at their centres a stripe of bright orange (symbolising the sun).  One clasp, ‘Pacific’ was awarded with this medal.

Italy Star.  The Italy Star was awarded for operational service in Italy and adjacent countries between 11 June 1943 and 8 May 1945.  This bronze six-pointed star has a circular centre with the GRI/VI monogram, surmounted by the Royal crown, and inscribed 'The Italy Star'. The star has a height of 44mm and maximum width of 38mm.  The ribbon has five equal stripes of red, white, green, white and red. These three colours are the national colours of Italy.

France and Germany Star.  The France and Germany Star was awarded for service in France, Belgium, the Netherlands, Germany and adjacent sea areas between 6 June 1944 and 8 May 1945.  This bronze six-pointed star has a circular centre with the GRI/VI monogram, surmounted by the Royal crown, and inscribed 'The France and Germany Star'. The star has a height of 44mm and maximum width of 38mm.  Personnel qualifying for both the France and Germany Star and the Atlantic Star were awarded the first star they qualified for, and a clasp in respect of the second star.  The ribbon has five equal stripes of blue, white, red, white and blue. These colours are the national colours of the United Kingdom, France and the Netherlands.  One clasp, ‘Atlantic’ was awarded with this medal.

 Defence Medal (obverse and reverse).  This medal was awarded to military and civilian personnel for a range of service (including Home Guard) at home, overseas in a non- operational area or in an area subject to threat such as air attack.

War Medal 1939-45 (obverse and reverse).  This medal was awarded to all fulltime members of the Armed Forces for 28 days service between September 1939 and September 1945 irrespective of where they were serving.

New Zealand War Service Medal (obverse and reverse). This medal was awarded for one month’s full time service or six months' part time service in any of the Armed Services, the Reserve or Home Guard between 3 September 1939 and 2 September 1945. This medal was the first distinctively ‘New Zealand’ campaign medal, which was emphasised by the use of the fern leaf motif on the reverse and the national colours of black and white in the ribbon.


Post World War II

Korea Medal (obverse and reverse).  This medal was instituted in 1951 to recognise service in the Korean War. It was awarded to all British Commonwealth forces who took part in the war between July 1950 and July 1953.  The reverse of the medal depicts Hercules wrestling with the Hydra, with the word 'Korea' below the image.  The ribbon is yellow with two blue stripes.

United Nations Korea Medal (obverse and reverse).  This medal was awarded for service during the Korean War (1 July 1950 to 27 July 1953) and for service in the first twelve months following the Armistice.  It was manufactured in the language of each country that participated in the United Nations force in Korea.  The ribbon is designed with a United Nations blue background and a series of white stripes across its width.  These are the basic colours of the United NationsA clasp ‘KOREA’ was issued with this medal. 

  General Service Medal Malaya Clasp (obverse and reverse).  This medal was instituted to recognise service in minor Army and Air Force operations for which no separate medal was intended.  Six different effigies of the reigning monarch are used on the Obverse of this medal.  A total of sixteen clasps were issued with this medal: Vietnam Medal (obverse and reverse).  This medal was instituted in 1968 to recognise New Zealanders who served in the Vietnam War.  It was awarded for qualifying periods of 1 day on land, 1 operational sortie by air, 28 days at sea off the coast or 30 days cumulative visits.  The ribbon incorporates the colours traditionally symbolic to the three Armed Forces (red, white and blue) and the national colours of Vietnam (red and yellow).

South Vietnam Campaign Medal.  This medal was awarded by the Government of South Vietnam to New Zealand and Australian forces who served for six months in Vietnam between 1964 and 1973.  The Sovereign approved the wearing of the South Vietnamese Campaign Medal by eligible New Zealand personnel in 1966.



In putting this page together, I wish to acknowledge the New Zealand Defence Force for sourcing this information, and By Such Deeds by Colin Hanson (to purchase copies of this book, please click here).  For further information on New Zealand medals, please visit the New Zealand Defence Force site at http://www.nzdf.mil.nz/medals/index.html

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