|The 1939–1945 Star|
Awarded to a South African, C276539 J.P. Lemmetjies
|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||180 days of operational service or 60 days of operational flying|
|Campaign(s)||Second World War|
|Clasps||BATTLE OF BRITAIN
|Established||8 July 1943|
|Last awarded||22 December 2013|
|Order of wear|
|Next (higher)||India General Service Medal (1936)|
|Next (lower)||Atlantic Star|
Ribbon bar (left) and rosettes for the Battle of Britain (centre) and Bomber Command (right) clasps
The 1939–1945 Star is a military campaign medal, instituted by the United Kingdom on 8 July 1943 for award to subjects of the British Commonwealth for service in the Second World War. Two clasps were instituted to be worn on the medal ribbon, the Battle of Britain Clasp and the Bomber Command Clasp.
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 1939–43 Star (later named 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.
In March 1944, British prime minister Winston Churchill referenced both the 1939–43 Star and Africa Star in a speech to the Commons. The number awarded by this date was:
- The 1939–43 Star to 1,600,000 officers and men.
- The Africa Star to 1,500,000 officers and men.
Of all these campaign stars, only 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 which 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 institution of the 1939–43 Star (later named the 1939–1945 Star) was announced on 8 July 1943 and, in August, it was announced that the first uniform ribbons would be issued to qualifying personnel later in that year. The medals themselves were not intended to be available until after the cessation of hostilities. Some ribbon issues to overseas troops were delayed, but many had been received by the end of 1943 and were worn by recipients throughout the remainder of the war.
The 1939–1945 Star was awarded for operational service between 3 September 1939 and 2 September 1945, the duration of the Second World War. Two clasps were instituted to be worn on the medal ribbon, along with rosettes to be worn on the ribbon bar of the medal to denote the award of a clasp.
- The Battle of Britain Clasp was instituted in 1945 for award to air crew members on fighter aircraft who took part in the Battle of Britain from 10 July to 31 October 1940. A silver-gilt rosette, worn on the ribbon bar, denotes the award of this clasp.
- The Bomber Command Clasp was belatedly instituted on 26 February 2013, more than sixty-seven years after the end of the Second World War, for award to air crew members on aircraft who participated in at least one operational sortie in a Royal Air Force Bomber Command operational unit between 3 September 1939 and 8 May 1945 inclusive. A silver rosette worn on the ribbon bar denotes the award of this clasp.
The 1939–1945 Star was awarded for any period of operational service overseas between 3 September 1939 and either 8 May 1945 in Europe or 2 September 1945 in the Far East theatre. The broad criteria were 180 days of service between these dates, with more specific criteria depending on service arm.
- Naval personnel qualified after 180 days afloat between certain specified dates in areas of operations as laid out in the regulations.
- Army personnel had to complete 180 days of service in an operational command.
- Airborne troops qualified if they had participated in any airborne operations and had completed 60 days of service in a fully operational unit.
- Air Force air crew qualified after 60 days of service in an operational unit, including at least one operational sortie. The 1939–1945 Star was also awarded to crews of transport aircraft who flew over certain specified routes. Air crew of fighter aircraft engaged in the Battle of Britain were also awarded the Battle of Britain Clasp, while air crew of bomber aircraft who participated in at least one operational sortie in a Bomber Command operational unit were awarded the Bomber Command Clasp in 2013.
- Ground crew and other Air force personnel qualified upon completion of 180 days of service in an area of operational army command.
- Merchant Navy personnel qualified upon completion of 180 days of service with at least one voyage made through an operational area.
The award of a gallantry medal or Mention in Dispatches qualified the recipient for the award of the 1939–1945 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.
In addition, some special criteria applied when, at certain specified times, just one day's service was required. These latter instances were actions for which a more specific campaign medal was not awarded and the regulations for award made provision for a number of operations in Europe, the Middle East, the Pacific Theatre and India and Burma, in which entry into operational service for one day or part thereof qualified personnel for the award of the 1939–1945 Star. Some notable examples are:
- The Battle of France in France or Belgium from 10 May to 19 June 1940.
- The St Nazaire Raid from 22 to 28 March 1942.
- The Dieppe Raid on 19 August 1942.
- The Anglo-Iraqi War in Iraq from 10 April to 25 May 1941.
- The Japanese conquest of Burma from 22 February 1942 to 15 May 1942.
In the case of personnel in operational service at the end of active hostilities in Europe on 8 May 1945, the actual operational service requirement period for the award of the Atlantic Star, Air Crew Europe Star, Italy Star and France and Germany Star was reduced to entry into a theatre of operations and the prior six or two months service requirements did not apply. The 1939–1945 Star, however, was not awarded in any of these cases in which actual operational service amounted to less than six or two months respectively.
Order of wear
Campaign medals and stars are not listed by name in the order of wear prescribed by the British Central Chancery of the Orders of Knighthood, but are all grouped together as taking precedence after the Queen's Medal for Chiefs and before the Polar Medals, in order of the date of the campaign for which awarded.
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.
With effect from 6 April 1952, when a new South African set of decorations and medals was instituted to replace the British awards used to date, the older British decorations and medals applicable to South Africa 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. Of the official British campaign medals which were applicable to South Africans, the 1939–1945 Star takes precedence as shown.
The set of nine campaign stars was designed by the Royal Mint engravers. The stars all have a ring suspender which 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 obverse has a central design of the Royal Cypher "GRI VI", surmounted by a crown. A circlet, the top of which is covered by the crown, surrounds the cypher and is inscribed "THE 1939–1945 STAR".
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 South Africans the recipient's force number, initials and surname in block capitals, as illustrated by the main picture.
Both clasps were struck in bronze and have a frame with an inside edge which resembles the perforated edge of a postage stamp. They are inscribed "BATTLE OF BRITAIN" and "BOMBER COMMAND" respectively and were designed to be sewn onto the medal's ribbon. The rosettes, to be worn on the ribbon bar when medals are not worn, are silver-gilt for the Battle of Britain Clasp and silver for the Bomber Command Clasp.
The ribbon is 32 millimetres wide, with equal width bands of Navy blue, Army red and Air Force blue, with the dark blue band representing the Naval Forces and the Merchant Navy, the red band the Armies and the light blue band the Air Forces. The equal width bands represent the equal contributions of the three service arms towards victory.
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- The National Archives – Ministry of Defence – Arctic Star and Bomber Command Clasp (Access date 1 April 2015)
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- New Zealand Defence Force – The Africa Star Eligibility Rules (Access date 12 April 2015)
- New Zealand Defence Force – The Pacific Star Eligibility Rules (Access date 9 April 2015)
- New Zealand Defence Force – The Burma Star Eligibility Rules (Access date 12 April 2015)
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