Medal bar

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For the ribbon worn instead of the entire medal, see Medal ribbon. Medal bar_sentence_0

A medal bar or medal clasp is a thin metal bar attached to the ribbon of a military decoration, civil decoration, or other medal. Medal bar_sentence_1

It most commonly indicates the campaign or operation the recipient received the award for, and multiple bars on the same medal are used to indicate that the recipient has met the criteria for receiving the medal in multiple theatres. Medal bar_sentence_2

When used in conjunction with decorations for exceptional service, such as gallantry medals, the term "and bar" means that the award has been bestowed multiple times. Medal bar_sentence_3

In the example, "Group Captain Leonard Cheshire, VC, OM, DSO and two bars, DFC", "DSO and two bars" means that the Distinguished Service Order was awarded on three occasions. Medal bar_sentence_4

A British convention is to indicate bars by the use of asterisks; thus, DSO** would denote a DSO and two bars. Medal bar_sentence_5

Bars are also used on long-service medals to indicate the length of service rendered. Medal bar_sentence_6

The two terms are used because terms "bar" and "clasp" both refer to two parts of the medal; the indicator discussed in this article, and the part of the medal connected to the ribbon. Medal bar_sentence_7

History Medal bar_section_0

Prior to the early 19th century, medals and decorations were only awarded to ranking officers; occasions existed where medals were presented to soldiers (other ranks or enlisted men) or seamen (naval ratings), but these were often private efforts. Medal bar_sentence_8

One exception was the Army Gold Medal issued to higher ranking participants in the Peninsular War. Medal bar_sentence_9

A medal was given for service, with a clasp for each battle fought. Medal bar_sentence_10

After four clasps were earned the medal was turned in for a cross with the battle names on the arms, and additional clasps were then added. Medal bar_sentence_11

The maximum was achieved by the Duke of Wellington, with a cross and nine clasps. Medal bar_sentence_12

Over the next 40 years, it became customary for governments to present a medal to all soldiers and officers involved in a campaign. Medal bar_sentence_13

These medals were often engraved with the names of the major battles the recipient had fought in during the campaign. Medal bar_sentence_14

The main disadvantages of this system were that new medals had to be created for each campaign or war, and that it was impossible to tell at a glance if the recipient was only a participant in the campaign overall, or if he had been involved in one or several major actions. Medal bar_sentence_15

(The first gallantry medal to be awarded to ordinary British soldiers was the Victoria Cross in 1856.) Medal bar_sentence_16

The Sutlej Medal was the earliest medal to use such bars. Medal bar_sentence_17

It was awarded to British Army and Honourable East India Company soldiers who fought in the First Anglo-Sikh War between 1845 and 1846. Medal bar_sentence_18

The first battle the recipient participated in would be engraved on the medal itself. Medal bar_sentence_19

If the recipient had participated in multiple engagements, silver bars bearing the name of each additional battle were attached to the medal's ribbon. Medal bar_sentence_20

This method of notation evolved again on the Punjab Campaign medal, where the standard medal was awarded to all that had served during the campaign, with bars produced for the three major battles; the Battle of Chillianwala, the Siege of Multan, and the Battle of Gujarat. Medal bar_sentence_21

The creation of bars led to the development of 'General Service' medals, which would be presented to any soldier serving in a general region or time frame. Medal bar_sentence_22

Bars would be awarded to denote the particular campaign or war the recipient fought in. Medal bar_sentence_23

The 1854 India General Service Medal was awarded to soldiers over a 41-year period. Medal bar_sentence_24

Twenty-three clasps were created for this award, becoming one of the more extreme uses of this system. Medal bar_sentence_25

The British Naval General Service Medal, was authorised in 1847 with some 231 clasps (of which about 10 were never issued) for actions ranging from relatively minor skirmishes to certain campaigns and all full-fledged battles between 1793 and 1840. Medal bar_sentence_26

The Crimea Medal was issued with ornate battle bars. Medal bar_sentence_27

Since then the general trend has been to have simple horizontal devices. Medal bar_sentence_28

Types of bar Medal bar_section_1

Medal bar_unordered_list_0

  • Campaign bars or battle bars are used to denote the particular campaign, battle, or region the recipient operated in to receive the award. This is the most common use of medal bars on military decorations. In the United Kingdom, campaign bars are usually known as clasps and when the ribbon alone is worn they are sometimes indicated by rosettes, although this is not commonly authorised. Examples of ones that were issued are the "under enemy fire" clasp on the 1914 Star and the Battle of Britain clasp on the 1939-45 Star. In the United States Military, Service stars are used to indicate participation in multiple battles or campaigns, although the World War I Victory Medal had an extensive system of bars. Starting with World War II the Arrowhead device was authorized for assault landings. Also in this conflict a unique variation of the Service star was the Wake Island Device, a "W" placed on the ribbons of the Navy and Marine Corps Expeditionary Medals. This was issued to represent the medal bar for fighting in the Battle of Wake Island.Medal bar_item_0_0
  • Achievement bars are used to indicate a particular or additional feat associated with the medal. As an example, the Wintered Over Device attached to the United States Antarctica Service Medal indicates that the recipient performed a tour of duty during the Antarctic winter.Medal bar_item_0_1
  • Service bars indicate the length of service a person has provided to the organisation presenting the award. This type of bar is most commonly found on long service medals for the military and emergency services.Medal bar_item_0_2
  • Multiple award bars display the number of times a decoration for merit or distinguished service has been awarded. In the United States, Oak Leaf Clusters (Army and Air Force) and Stars (Navy and Marine Corps), rather than bars, are issued for receiving the same award multiple times. In the United Kingdom, each bar is indicated by a rosette when the ribbon alone is worn (or, in the case of the Victoria Cross or George Cross, by an additional miniature model of the cross itself, since one of these is always worn on the ribbon of these two awards).Medal bar_item_0_3

Credits to the contents of this page go to the authors of the corresponding Wikipedia page: bar.