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Medal facts

Before we consider remembering our family history, we need to establish fact from fiction. Here we list changes and updates to medals, making sure your loved ones are issued with correct medals. 

Medal entitlements

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Some people assume that because Great-Granddad was entitled for the 1914-1915 Star because there is stamped on the final few pages of their war record. The family don't realise that 'N.E.' written on the stamp means Not Entitled.

But the first war records are now-days are amazingly complete if at times difficult to read. All awards are listed, generally on the last page or two.

You can read all about the amazing story of these records in "The Man who carried the Nation's Grief", the story of Major James Lean MBE by Carol Rosenhain.

Medal descriptions

Africa Star

In February 1995 this award was extended to cover the Syrian Campaign that took place between 8 June and 11 July 1941.

Anniversary of National Service

Instituted in 2001 to cover all periods of National Service between 1951 and 1972. Approximately 300,000 are eligible, but many thousands have not been claimed. These people would also be entitled to the Australian Defence Medal.

40th Anniversary of the Great Patriotic War

Instituted by Russia in 1985 and later approved for Royal Navy and Merchant Marine survivors who had served on the North Sea convoys to Russia in WW2. Similar anniversary medals were later issued in later years.

Arctic Star

Covering the period between June 1950 and July 1953, it was originally offered to both the British and the Australians in December 1950 by the Republic of Korea, but the offer was refused. However, on 6 April 2017, Australia decided to accept the award. This will now be shown on official lists of entitlements; however, originals are no longer awarded, and a replica will have to be substituted.

Australian Active Service Medal 1945-1975

Instituted in 1997 with 6 clasps to cover warlike actions such as Korea and Vietnam.

Australian Defence Medal

Instituted on 20 March 2006, for all post-war service commencing after 2 September 1945, for a period of at least four years duration or a shorter government-stipulated period such as national service. This medal is still current and is generally the first medal awarded to current serving Defence Force members.

Australian Service Medal 1939-1945

Instituted in 1949 for 18 months full-time service, its primary function was to differentiate Australian service from that of British and other Commonwealth countries. In 1996, the qualification period was reduced to 30 days full-time or 60 days part-time.

Australian Service Medal 1945-1975

Instituted in 1995 with clasps to cover 14 non-warlike or peacekeeping operations post WW2. Most commonly missing are personnel who were overseas at the end of the war, particularly in the Pacific. Anyone overseas for 30 days after 2 September 1945, excluding travel time, is entitled to this medal, and many were overseas for many months before coming home. The most common clasps from this period are “PNG” and “S.W. Pacific” followed by “Japan” for the Occupation Forces.

Bomber Command Clasp for 1939-1945 Star

Instituted 26 February 2013, for those who flew at least one sortie from Britain over France and Germany and served at least 60 operational days.

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Civilian Service Medal 1939-1945

Instituted in 1994 for civilians who had assisted Australia's war effort in a wide variety of organisations and served for at least 180 days. A wide variety of people such as Women's Land Army, civil construction and road workers, Red Cross and medical aid workers are eligible. The main criterion is that they had to be working away from home under quasi-military conditions.

General Service Medal for Korea

Instituted in 2009 for post-armistice service between 1953 and 1956.These people will also be entitled to a Korea clasp on the Australian Service Medal 1945-1975.

George Cross 50th Anniversary Medal

Instituted in 1992 by the Maltese Government to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the awarding of the George Cross to by the British Government, and presented to surviving veterans who served between 10 June 1940, and 8 September 1943. Mainly naval members, (e.g., HMAS Sydney and HMAS Australia] and merchant shipping. Also, some aircrew served with the RAF).

Greek War Medal 1940-1941

Instituted in 1947 for the Greek Campaign that ended with the fall of Crete, the original issue had King George of Greece on the obverse. This was replaced by a headless winged female in 1983 when Greece became a republic.

Korea War Service Medal

Covering the period between June 1950 and July 1953, it was originally offered to both the British and the Australians in December 1950 by the Republic of Korea, but the offer was refused. However, on 6 April 2017, Australia decided to accept the award. This will now be shown on official lists of entitlements; however, originals are no longer awarded, and a replica will have to be substituted.

Netherlands Commemorative War Cross with East Asia-South Pacific 1942-1945 clasp

Instituted in 1944, the Dutch Government offered this award to all service personnel who had served in the Dutch East Indies or Dutch New Guinea. Sir Thomas Blamey advised the Australian Government to reject the award. Blamey later accepted a Dutch knighthood, which many thought was hypocritical and began an unsuccessful campaign for formal recognition of the award. As a result of this failure, many service organisations reacted by simply advising members to wear it anyway.   Army records that are marked “N.E.I.” will denote eligible army personnel. This is the only medal listed here that does not have official approval for wear.

Philippine Liberation Medal

Originally instituted in 1945 for participation in the liberation of the Philippines between 17 October 1944, and 2 September 1945, it was first offered to Australians in August 1994 as part of the commemoration of the 50th Anniversary of the Battle of Leyte Gulf. About 3500 Australians are entitled to this medal.

Pingat Jasa Malaysia

Instituted in 2004 for the period 31 August 1957 to 31 December 1966, and will be accompanied by General Service Medals for 1918-62 and/or 1962-2000 with clasps such as Malay Peninsula, Malaya, or Borneo. It will also be accompanied by the Australian Active Service Medal 1945-75 with an appropriate clasp.

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Polish Medal for the West with Tobruk clasp

Instituted by the Polish Government in 1989 for the Battle of Tobruk, April to August 1941.

1939-1945 Star

Instituted 1943 as the 1939-43 Star for 6 months of operational service between 3 September 1939 and the end of the war. In July 1998 several amendments were made, greatly expanding the numbers entitled to this medal. The people most affected will be those who had not completed 6 months of operational service at war's end in either Europe or the Pacific. The largest group to become eligible were those serving in the Pacific. In addition, the majority of these will also be entitled to the Australian Service Medal 1945-75 with appropriate clasp. These are probably the most common medals missing from groups of this period. Areas in Australia were declared war zones qualifying the 1939-45 Star, such as the Northern Territory north of latitude 14 degrees 30 minutes, between 19 February and 12 November 1943, (the area that includes Darwin). Merchant seamen sailing in Northern Territory waters during this period also became eligible. Likewise, the Torres Strait Islands between 14 March 1942 and 18 June 1943.

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Vietnam Cross of Gallantry with Palm Unit Citation

While only a limited number of Australian units were originally eligible for this award, all Australian units under the operational control of the United States Military Assistance Command Vietnam can now claim it. Those units with dates are as follows, www.defence.gov.au/adf-members-families/honours-awards/medals/foreign-awards/republic-vietnam-cross-gallantry-palm-unit-citation

Navy

  • Clearance Diving Team Three from 5 February 1967 to 5 May 1971

  • RAN Helicopter Flight Vietnam from 16 October 1967 to 8 June 1971

  • RAN personnel in 9 Squadron from February 1968 to April 1969 (8 personnel)

Air Force

  • RAAF Transport Flight Vietnam/35 Squadron from August 1964 to February 1972

  • 9 Squadron from June 1966 to December 1971

  • 2 Squadron from 19 April 1967 to 15 July 1971


Army

The Governor-General has previously approved the following Army units to wear the insignia of the Citation for their service in Vietnam.

1. Australian Army Training Team Vietnam from 1 July 1962 to 31 October 1971er 1969 to 24 October 1970​

2. 1RAR – Eligible personnel must have served in Vietnam under command of 173rd Airborne Brigade during 5 May 1965 to 31 May 1966 in one of the following units, within the eligible dates:​

  • 1st Battalion, The Royal Australian Regiment from 25 May 1965 to 31 May 1966

  • 1st Armoured Personnel Carrier Troop RAAC from 15 June 1965 to 31 March 1966

  • 105th Field Battery, RAA from 14 September 1965 to 31 May 1966

  • 3rd Field Troop, RAE from 14 September 1965 to 31 March 1966

  • 161st Reconnaissance Flight, AAAVN from 14 September 1965 to 31 May 1966

  • 1st Australian Logistic Support Company from 25 May 1965 to 31 March 1966

  • Battery Section, 4th Field Regiment Light Aid Detachment RAEME (and redesignated in country to 105th Field Battery Section, 12th Field Regiment Light Aid Detachment RAEME) from 14 September 1965 to 31 March 1966

3. 547 Signal Troop from 13 June 1966 to 23 December 1971

4. Strength of D Company 6RAR in Vietnam on 18 August 1966

5. 8RAR from 28 November1969 t024 October 1970

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Vietnam Logistics and Support Medal

Instituted in 1993, 20 years after the end of the Vietnam War for those not directly involved in the conflict such as logistics, entertainment, reporters etc. Holders of The Vietnam Medal are not eligible.

Foreign medals

  1. ​Greek War Medal 1940-1941

  2. ​​Polish Medal for the West with Tobruk clasp

  3. Soviet/Russian 40th Anniversary of the Great Patriot War

  4. Philippine Liberation Medal

  5. ​Netherlands Commemorative War Cross with East Asia-South Pacific 1942-1945 clasp

  6. Malta George Cross 50th Anniversary Medal    

  7. Vietnam Cross of Gallantry with Palm Unit Citation

Australian and Commonwealth Medals

  1. 1939-1945 Star
    1a. Bomber Command Clasp for 1939-1945 Star

  2. Arctic Star

  3. Africa Star

  4. Australian Service Medal 1939-1945

  5. Australian Active Service Medal 1945-1975

  6. Vietnam Logistics and Support Medal

  7. Australian General Service Medal for Korea

  8. Australian Service Medal 1945-1975​​

  9. Civilian Service Medal 1939-1945

  10. Australian Defence Medal

  11. ​​​Anniversary of National Service 1951-1972

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