Military Campaign Medals - World War 1

Medals of MV Reffell (front view)All servicemen of the armed services, some women and civilians were eligible for one or more campaign medals if they served during World War 1.

Many army men were awarded a group of three medals, and this 'trio' was colloquially known as Pip, Squeak and Wilfred who were characters in a comic strip which first appeared in the Daily Mirror during 1919. They are a common sight proudly worn at Remembrance Day parades up and down the country, but now they have become rather collectable and prices are increasing.

A typical trio of someone who served abroad is pictured on the left, these are the medals awarded to Maurice Victor Reffell who was a corporal in the 2nd Battalion of The Queen's (Royal West Surrey) Regiment. Maurice died in 1944 and in time his medals were sold. However, pleasingly they are now back in the family again.

World War 1 campaign medals were stamped with the name, rank, regiment and service number, on the reverse of the star and around the rim of the circular medals. This practice was not continued for World War 2 medals.

Medals of MV Reffell (rear view)Left: The 1914-1915 Star 'Pip'. Awarded for service theatres of war, 5 August 1914 to 31 December 1915; and for service in France and Belgium, 23 November 1914 to 31 December 1915. Around 2,300,000 were issued. The 1914-1915 star is very similar to the earlier 1914 or 'Mons' star, issued between 5 August 1914 and 22 November 1914, of which some 378,000 were issued.

Middle: The British War Medal 'Squeak'. Awarded for service abroad 5 August 1914 to 11 November 1918 and also from 1919 to 1920 in Russia. Over 6 million were issued.

Right: The Victory Medal 'Wilfred'. Awarded for both military and civilian personnel who served in a theatre of war. About 5,750,000 were issued.

Silver War BadgeAs is well known, during the First World War there was a practice of handing out white feathers, usually by women, to men who were thought to be shirking their responsibilities to the country by not enlisting in the forces. Unfortunately these feathers were sometimes handed out to those who had already fought for their country and been invalided out. To counter this, from September 1916 the government started to give the Silver War Badge (shown on the right) to those who had already 'done their bit'. They were inscribed 'For King and Empire * Services Rendered' on the front and individually numbered on the rear. Silver War Badges would not be replaced if they went missing, although they would be returned if found. Nearly 1,400,000 Silver War Badges were issued. Since it was not strictly a campaign medal, the Silver War Badge was not to be worn whilst in uniform. Other similar badges were privately produced for those involved at home in vital war work, such as in the mining industry.