The Complete Guide to Buying British Medals

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The Complete Guide to Buying British Medals

Britain has historically been involved in many wars and there is now a huge amount of war memorabilia with one strand of this the Medals that are awarded to service personnel after a conflict has concluded.

The following guide will give you a complete overview of British Medals, the characteristics that you will find and how to buy them safely and securely using eBay.

Why Are Medals Awarded to Service Personnel?

Medals are and were given to service personnel to commemorate service in various wars. They were first handed out during the early 1800s when the Army Gold Medal and Army Gold Cross were awarded for service in a number of different conflicts.

As centuries have passed, the constant flow of medals hasn’t stopped and any service personnel that have taken part in a war will have a medal to show for it.

Medal Characteristics

Medals awarded to those in service have a number of shared characteristics that are present on most.

The following table explains what the main characteristics are:




  • Differ vastly in design and are made from a number of different materials.
  • Most common metals used to make them are bronze and silver.


  • Medal is attached to it and they are able to hang from a jacket or other military regalia.
  • Differ in colour depending on the conflict.


  • Added to the ribbon to signify something extra.
  • Extra information can include conflicts fought in and if certain information was recorded about the combatant.

Engraving Medals

Medals in some conflicts will have engravings on the back to signify the person that was awarded the medal. The information that is included on the back is as follows:

  • Number
  • Rank
  • Name
  • Unit

British Campaigns Where Medals Were Awarded

Medals have been awarded to service personnel for over 200 years and it means there are huge amounts available to buy. The following sections are split into centuries and outline the medals that were awarded for certain conflicts.

19th Century

Medals were first awarded to personnel at the start of the 19th Century. The following table lists the medals awarded and the conflict with which they are associated.



Awarded for

Army Gold Cross


Various – specific war signified by clasp.

Army Gold Medal


Various – specific war signified by clasp.

Waterloo Medal


One of Battle of Ligny, Battle of Quatre Bras and Battle of Waterloo.

Ghuznee Medal


Battle of Ghuznee, Afghanistan.

Candahar, Ghuznee, Cabul Medal


Those that took part in the First Anglo-Afghan War.

Jellalabad Medals


Defence of Jalalaba in the First Anglo-Afghan War.

Kelat-I-Ghilzie Medal


Defence of the fort at Kelat-I-Ghilzie in the First Anglo-Afghan War.

First China War Medal


Army and Navy that took part in First Anglo-Chinese War.

Scinde Medal


Awarded for forces of the Sindh Campaign.

Gwalior Star


Soldiers in the Gwalior Campaign.

Sutlej Medal


Served in the Sutlej campaign, also known as the First Anglo-Sikh War.

Naval General Service Medal


Various – specific war signified by clasp.

Military General Service Medal


Various – specific war signified by clasp.

Punjab Medal


Officers and Men that served in the Punjab Campaign.

Army of India Medal


Various – specific war signified by clasp.

India General Service Medal


Various – specific war signified by clasp.

South Africa Medal


Three campaigns in Southern Africa – all named the Kaffir or Frontier Wars.

Crimea Medal


Crimean War.

Baltic Medal


Served at Sea in the Baltic Theatre of the Crimean War.

Indian Mutiny Medal


Suppression of the Indian Mutiny.

Second China War Medal


Second Opium War.

New Zealand Medal


New Zealand Wars or Maori Wars.

Abyssinian War Medal


Expedition to Abyssinia (now Ethiopia).

Canada General Service Medal


Fenian Raids.

Ashantee Medal


Third Anglo-Ashanti War.

South Africa Medal


South African tribal wars including the Anglo-Zulu War.

Afghanistan Medal


Second Anglo-Afghan War.

Kabul to Kandahar Star


320-mile march from Kabul to Kandahar.

Egypt Medal


Anglo-Egyptian War.

British South African Company Medal


First Mateabele War, Second Mateabele War in Rhodesia and Mashonaland.

East and West Africa Medal


Various – specific war signified by clasp.

India Medal


Various – specific war signified by clasp.

Ashanti Star


Expedition against Ashanti Kind Prempeh in Fourth Anglo-Ashanti War.

Queen’s Sudan Medal


British and Egyptian troops in Sudan campaign.

East and Central African Medal


Various – specific war signified by clasp.

Queen’s South Africa Medal


Boer War.

Queen’s Mediterranean Medal


Boer War.

20th Century

Medals from the two World Wars that took place in the 20th Century are the most widely available of any type of medal. The following two tables outline the medals available in each World War with a quick description alongside:

World War I Medal


1914 Star

  • Awarded to personnel that served in France and Belgium between 5 August 1914 and 22/23 November 1914.
  • Bright bronze four-pointed star.
  • Awarded along with the Victory Medal and British War Medal as a set.

1914-15 Star

  • Awarded to personnel that served in any ‘theatre of war’ between 5 August 1914 and 31 December 1915.
  • Cannot have both this and the 1914 Star.
  • Awarded along with the Victory Medal and British War Medal as a set.

British War Medal

  • Any member of the forces that completed service between 5 August 1914 and 11 November 1918.
  • Awarded along with the Victory Medal and the 1914 Star and 1914-15 Star as a set.

Victory Medal

  • Any member of the forces that completed service between 5 August 1914 and 11 November 1918.
  • Awarded along with the British War Medal and the 1914 Star and 1914-15 Star as a set.

Mercantile Marine War Medal

  • Awarded to anyone that qualified for a British War Medal that could prove they were on a sea voyage that passed through a danger zone.

Territorial Force War Medal

  • Awarded to members of the British Territorial Force and Territorial Force Nursing Services that served overseas.

World War II Medal


1939-45 Star

Awarded for service during WWII. Had to serve for six months in operational command.

Atlantic Star

Awarded for service afloat in the Atlantic or Home Waters during WWII.

Air Crew Europe Star

For service in the air in WWII for operational flights over Europe from UK bases.

Africa Star

Service during WWII in North Africa.

Pacific Star

Service in Hong Kong, China and Malaya, or Sumatra.

Burma Star

Served in the Burma Campaign.

Italy Star

Operational service on land in Italy, Greece, Yugoslavia, Pantelleria, the Aegean Area and Dodecanese Islands, and Elba.

France and Germany Star

Served in France, Belgium, Luxembourg, Netherlands, and Germany between D-Day and 8 May 1945.

Defence Medal

Civilian personnel that served in the UK as part of the Home Guard, Royal Observer Corps, Fire Brigades, Civil Defence Messenger Service, Police and Coast Guard.

War Medal 1939-1945

Served during the war years for at least 28 days.

India Service Medal

Awarded for three years of non-operational service in India.

Canadian Volunteer Service Medal

Any person of any rank that volunteered for the Canadian services.

Africa Service Medal

Anyone that volunteered for the war effort from various South African service groups.

Australian Service Medal

Recognises Australian forces that contributed to the war effort.

New Zealand War Service Medal

Anyone that volunteered for the war effort from various New Zealand service groups.

South African Medal for War Services

Awarded for part-time voluntary service support for the war effort.

Southern Rhodesia Medal for War Service

Members of the military that served in Southern Rhodesia.

Newfoundland Volunteer War Service Medal

Rewarded those that served in the British Forces from Newfoundland and Labrador.

Other medals were also awarded before and after the two World Wars and they are listed below:

  • China War Medal (1900)
  • Ashanti Medal (1901)
  • King’s South Africa Medal (1902)
  • Africa General Service Medal (1902)
  • Transport Medal (1902)
  • Tibet Medal (1905)
  • Indian General Service Medal (1909)
  • General Service Medal (1918)
  • Naval General Service Medal (1915)
  • India General Service Medal (1936)
  • Korea Medal (1951)
  • General Service Medal (1962)
  • Rhodesia Medal (1980)
  • South Atlantic Medal (1982)
  • Gulf Medal (1991)
  • Accumulated Campaign Service Medal (1994-2001)

21st Century

Fewer medals have been awarded in the 21st Century and they are among some of the rarer one around as a result.

The table below lists the medals and the year in which they were first awarded:



Operational Service Medal (OSM) for Sierra Leone


OSM for Afghanistan


OSM for Democratic Republic of Congo


Iraq Medal


Iraq Reconstruction Service Medal


Accumulated Campaign Service Medal


How to Buy British Medal on eBay

To find British Medals on eBay first go to the Collectables category and scroll down to the Militaria sub-category and click on it. On the left hand side of the page scroll down until you come to type and under that click on Medals & Ribbons..

After choosing Medals & Ribbons it will give you the option to search by Conflict and Era.

When searching for any piece of war memorabilia on eBay it can be more helpful to use the search option. Buyers can do this by typing search terms into the search box present at the top of any eBay page.

If at any time you’re unsure about item details, don’t hesitate to Ask the Seller a question to find out more. There is even a Buying Tips section that will provide even more help if required.

When ready to Buy, place a Bid, click the Buy it Now button or place your Best Offer. Using PayPal will make sure the transaction is secure and goes through as smoothly as possible.

Safety Considerations When Buying

Any memorabilia being bought on eBay will need to be researched meticulously before completing a purchase due to its nature.

Checking through the item description carefully is essential and if anything is unclear then it must be taken up with the seller before making a bid.

Transaction history is another aspect that must be checked over thoroughly. It’s here that buyers will be able to find out what the seller has done on eBay in the past. Any negative feedback should be carefully examined and anything that you’re unsure about, don’t hesitate to Ask the Seller.

Another thing to watch out for is eBay sellers that have no feedback on their profile. If none is present, it’s another reason to have a careful look over everything again before completing a purchase.

Before placing a bid read through the conditions of sale a number of times and if there’s anything that looks untoward then use the Ask the Selleroption.


War medals have been awarded by British administrations for hundreds of years. It means there are thousands for sale and eBay is a reliable place to pick one up. Before finalising a purchase there are some factors to take into consideration, including:

  • Make sure you know all the details about the medal you’re buying.
  • Check that it is authentic and not a copy.

Neither of these should limit you in any way and the decision is always down to the buyer as to the product they want.

Once ready to pay for an item, remember to use PayPal to complete the transaction to make sure everything goes through smoothly.

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