The Distinguished Service Order


Today I am going to talk a little about military medals and decorations, starting with The Distinguished Service Order also known as the DSO it is a military decoration of the United Kingdom and formerly of other parts of the Commonwealth and British Empire.

It was awarded for meritorious or distinguished service by officers of the armed forces during wartime, typically in actual combat. It was instituted on the 2nd September1886 by Queen Victoria and was awarded for the first time on the 25th November 1886.

It is typically awarded to officer’s ranked mayor or higher, but the honour has sometimes been awarded to especially valorous junior officers. During the First World War, 8,981 DSOs were awarded, each award being announced in the London Gazette.

Between the years of 1914 and 1916 it was awarded to staff officers who did not serve under fire after the 1st January 1917 commanders in the field were instructed to recommend this award only for those serving under fire.

Prior to 1943 is was only given to someone mentioned in despatches, the order is generally given to officers in command above the rank of captain. When a junior officer was awarded the DSO it was often regarded as an acknowledgement that the officer had only just missed out on the Victoria Cross,

In 1942 the award started to be given to officers of the Merchant Navy who had performed acts of gallantry under fire and enemy attack.

Since 1993 the award has been restricted solely to distinguished service such as leadership and command by and rank, the Conspicuous Gallantry Cross was introduced as the seconded highest award for gallantry. It has, however, remained an officers-only award and it has yet to be awarded to non-commissioned rank.

Recipients of the order are officially known as Companions of the Distinguished Service Order. They are entitled to use the letters “DSO”. One of more gold medal bars ornamented by the Crown may be issued to the DSO holders performing further acts of such leadership which would have merited award of the DSO. The bars are worn as clasps on the medal ribbon of the original award.

No you may be wondering what it looks like well I could tell you but I think it is better to just show you so here it is.

I will write more about other medals in other posts.

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4 thoughts on “The Distinguished Service Order

  1. Very interesting. I’d much rather have the Distinguished Service Award than the Conspicuous Gallantry Cross. While I’m sure the Conspicuous Gallantry Cross is a serious honor, it kind of sounds like an award for a horse. I’ve never described a human as “conspicuously gallant.” This was really cool, thank you.

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