|The Burma Star|
|Awarded by the Monarch of the United Kingdom and the Dominions of the British Commonwealth, and Emperor of India|
|Type||Military campaign medal|
|Awarded for||Different for sea and land service|
|Order of wear|
|Next (higher)||Pacific Star|
|Next (lower)||Italy Star|
Ribbon bar without and with Pacific Clasp rosette
The Burma Star is a military campaign medal, instituted by the United Kingdom in May 1945 for award to subjects of the British Commonwealth who served in the Second World War, specifically in the Burma Campaign from 1941 to 1945.
The Second World War Stars
Altogether eight campaign stars and nine clasps were initially instituted for campaign service during the Second World War. On 8 July 1943 the 1939–1945 Star and the Africa Star were the first two of these Stars to be instituted. One more campaign star, the Arctic Star, and one more clasp, the Bomber Command Clasp, were belatedly added on 26 February 2013, more than sixty-seven years after the end of the war.
Only one of these campaign stars, the 1939–1945 Star, covered the full duration of the Second World War from its outbreak on 3 September 1939 to the victory over Japan on 2 September 1945.
No-one could be awarded more than five (now six) campaign stars and no-one could be awarded more than one clasp to any one campaign star. Five of the nine (now ten) clasps were the equivalents of their namesake campaign stars and were awarded for the same respective campaigns as those stars, to be worn on the ribbon of that campaign star of the applicable group that had been earned first. The maximum of six possible campaign stars are the following:
- The 1939–1945 Star with, if awarded, either the Battle of Britain Clasp or the Bomber Command Clasp.
- Only one of the Atlantic Star, Air Crew Europe Star or France and Germany Star and, if awarded, the first to be earned respectively of the Air Crew Europe Clasp, France and Germany Clasp or Atlantic Clasp, to be worn on the ribbon of that one of these three campaign stars to have been first earned and awarded.
- The Arctic Star.
- The Africa Star with, if awarded, the first to be earned of the North Africa 1942–43 Clasp, 8th Army Clasp or 1st Army Clasp.
- Either the Pacific Star or Burma Star or, if awarded, either the Burma Clasp or Pacific Clasp respectively, to be worn on the ribbon of that one of these two campaign stars to have been first earned and awarded.
- The Italy Star.
The Burma Campaign took place between 11 December 1941 and 2 September 1945, during which time Japanese forces invaded Burma and drove British forces back to the Indian border. Since the Japanese held superiority in the Pacific Ocean, the Allies were not in a position to strike back and regain a foothold in Burma until early in 1944. Total surrender of the Japanese came on 2 September 1945, following the dropping of atom bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
Prisoners of War were forced by their Japanese captors to labour on projects such as railway construction, later depicted in the film The Bridge on the River Kwai, and were frequently tortured and starved. Approximately 13,000 British soldiers and 2,000 civilians died in Japanese prisoner camps.
The Burma Star was instituted by the United Kingdom in May 1945 for award to those who had served in operations in the Burma Campaign from 11 December 1941 to 2 September 1945, both dates inclusive.
The eligibility criteria for the award of the Burma Star was different for service afloat at sea and service ashore. In addition, British uniform regulations stipulated that the Burma Star could not be awarded to a prior recipient of the Pacific Star. Subsequent entitlement to the Pacific Star was denoted by the award of the Pacific clasp.
Royal Navy and Merchant Navy personnel qualified through service in an area restricted to the Bay of Bengal and enclosed by a line running from the southernmost point of Ceylon for a distance of 300 miles south, then to a point 300 miles west of the southernmost point of Sumatra and continuing east to the western side of the Sunda Strait, including the Strait of Malacca. The six months service requirement, or two months for air crew, for the award of the 1939-1945 Star had to be completed before service could begin to count towards qualification for the award of the the Burma Star.
The award of a gallantry medal or Mention in Dispatches qualified the recipient for the award of the Burma Star, regardless of service duration. Personnel whose qualifying service period was terminated prematurely by their death or disability due to service were awarded this Star.
Certain special conditions applied governing the award of the Burma Star to those Naval personnel who entered operational service less than six months before the end of the qualifying period. Those who entered operational service in the qualifying area on or after 7 March 1945 were awarded either the Pacific Star or the Burma Star by entry into operational service, the star awarded being the one appropriate to the last area in which service was rendered. In such cases, however, the 1939-45 Star could not be awarded for service of less than 180 days.
Army and Navy personnel and Air Force ground crew serving ashore qualified through entry into operational service in Burma between 11 December 1941 and 2 September 1945. Airborne troops of the Armies who took part in airborne operations in a qualifying area for land operations qualified by entry into operational service. Air crew who flew over the qualifying land and sea areas within the specified dates qualified by an operational sortie, while air crew on transport or ferrying duties qualified by at least three landings in any of the qualifying land areas.
The medal was also awarded for service during certain specified periods in China, Hong Kong, India, Malaya and Sumatra, all dates inclusive:
- Bengal and Assam in India from 1 May 1942 to 31 December 1943.
- Bengal and Assam, east of the Brahmaputra and Dihang Rivers, from 1 January 1941 to 2 September 1945.
- China from 16 February 1942 to 2 September 1945.
- Hong Kong from 26 December 1941 to 2 September 1945.
- Malaya from 16 February 1942 to 2 September 1945.
- Sumatra from 24 March 1942 to 2 September 1945.
Order of wear
The order of wear of the nine campaign stars was determined firstly by their respective campaign start dates, secondly by the campaign's duration and thirdly by their dates of institution.
- The 1939–1945 Star, from 3 September 1939 to 2 September 1945, the full duration of the Second World War.
- The Atlantic Star, from 3 September 1939 to 8 May 1945, the duration of the Battle of the Atlantic and the War in Europe.
- The Arctic Star, from 3 September 1939 to 8 May 1945, the duration of the Battle of the Atlantic and the War in Europe.
- The Air Crew Europe Star, from 3 September 1939 to 5 June 1944, the period until D-Day minus one.
- The Africa Star, from 10 June 1940 to 12 May 1943, the duration of the North African Campaign.
- The Pacific Star, from 8 December 1941 to 2 September 1945, the duration of the Pacific War.
- The Burma Star, from 11 December 1941 to 2 September 1945, the duration of the Burma Campaign.
- The Italy Star, from 11 June 1943 to 8 May 1945, the duration of the Italian Campaign.
- The France and Germany Star, from 6 June 1944 to 8 May 1945, the duration of the Northwest Europe Campaign.
Until 5 April 1952 the position of the Burma Star in the official order of precedence was prescribed by the British Central Chancery of the Orders of Knighthood. With effect from 6 April 1952 these awards continued to be worn in the same order of precedence but, with the exception of the Victoria Cross, took precedence after all South African orders, decorations and medals awarded to South Africans on or after that date.
The set of nine campaign stars were designed by the Royal Mint engravers. The stars all have a ring suspender that passes through an eyelet formed above the uppermost point of the star. They are six–pointed stars, struck in yellow copper zinc alloy to fit into a 44 millimetres diameter circle, with a maximum width of 38 millimetres and 50 millimetres high from the bottom point of the star to the top of the eyelet.
The reverse is plain and, as with the other Second World War campaign medals, a no engraving policy was applied by all but three British Commonwealth countries. The recipient's name was impressed on the reverse for Australians, Indians and South Africans. In the case of Indians this consisted of the recipient's force number, rank, initials, surname and service arm or corps, and in the case of South Africans of the force number, initials and surname, in block capitals.
The clasp was struck in yellow copper zinc alloy and has a frame with an inside edge that resembles the perforated edge of a postage stamp. It is inscribed "PACIFIC" and was designed to be sewn onto the medal's ribbon. When medals are not worn, a silver rosette is worn on the ribbon bar to denote the award of the clasp.
The ribbon is 32 millimetres wide with a 3½ millimetres wide Navy blue band, a 4 millimetres wide dark yellow band and a 3½ millimetres wide Navy blue band, repeated and separated by a 10 millimetres wide Army red band. The dark blue bands represent British Naval forces, the red band represents the Commonwealth Armies and the dark yellow bands represent the sun.
- 1939–1945 Star
- Atlantic Star
- Arctic Star
- Air Crew Europe Star
- Africa Star
- Pacific Star
- Italy Star
- France and Germany Star
- Defence Medal
- War Medal
- Committee on the Grant of Honours, Decorations and Medals in Time of War (May 1945). "Campaign Stars and the Defence Medal (Regulations)". London: HM Stationery Office. Retrieved 2010-08-01.
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- New Zealand Defence Force - The Atlantic Star Eligibility Rules (Access date 4 April 2015)
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- New Zealand Defence Force - The Italy Star Eligibility Rules (Access date 12 April 2015)
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