Distinguished Flying Cross (United Kingdom)

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Distinguished Flying Cross

Obverse of the decoration. Ribbon: 30mm, diagonal alternate stripes of white and deep purple.
Awarded by United Kingdom and Commonwealth
Type Military decoration
Eligibility British, Commonwealth, and allied forces
Awarded for ... exemplary gallantry during active operations against the enemy in the air.[1]
Status Currently awarded
Established 3 June 1918
Total awarded George V: 11,227
George VI: 21,657
Total: 32,884[2]
Order of Wear
Next (higher) Military Cross[3]
Next (lower) Air Force Cross[3]
Related Distinguished Flying Medal

The Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC) is the third-level military decoration awarded to personnel of the United Kingdom's Royal Air Force and other services, and formerly to officers of other Commonwealth countries, instituted for "an act or acts of valour, courage or devotion to duty whilst flying in active operations against the enemy".[4]


The award was established on 3 June 1918, shortly after the formation of the Royal Air Force (RAF). It was originally awarded to RAF commissioned and warrant officers. During the Second World War, it was also awarded to Royal Artillery officers serving on attachment to the RAF as pilots-cum-artillery observers. Since the Second World War, the award has been open to army and naval aviation officers, and to other ranks since 1993, when the Distinguished Flying Medal, which had until then been awarded to other ranks, was discontinued. Recipients of the Distinguished Flying Cross are entitled to use the post-nominal letters "DFC". A bar is added to the ribbon for holders of the DFC who received a second award.

During the First World War, approximately 1,100 DFCs were awarded, with 70 first bars and 3-second bars. During the Second World War, 20,354 DFCs were awarded, the most of any award, with approximately 1,550 first bars and 45-second bars.[5]

Honorary awards were made on 964 occasions to aircrew from other non-Commonwealth countries.


The decoration is a cross flory and is 2⅛ inches wide. The horizontal and bottom bars are terminated with bumps, the upper bar with a rose. The decoration's face features aeroplane propellers, superimposed on the vertical arms of the cross, and wings on the horizontal arms. In the centre is a laurel wreath around the RAF monogram, surmounted by an Imperial Crown.

The reverse features the Royal Cypher in the centre and the year of issue engraved on the lower arm. The decoration is issued named.

The ribbon was originally white with purple broad horizontal stripes, but it was changed in 1919 to the current white with purple broad diagonal stripes.

The decoration was designed by Edward Carter Preston.[6]

Distinguished Flying Cross ribbon bars
DFC DFC and Bar DFC and Two Bars
UK DFC 1918 BAR.svg
UK DFC 1918 w bar BAR.svg
UK DFC 1918 w 2bars BAR.svg
since 1919
United Kingdom Distinguished Flying Cross ribbon.svg
UK DFC w bar BAR.svg
UK DFC w 2bars BAR.svg

Notable awards[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Medals: campaigns, descriptions and eligibility". Ministry of Defence. 12 December 2012. Retrieved 5 February 2015. 
  2. ^ Mussell, John W. (1 September 2012). Medal Yearbook 2013. Honiton: Token Books. p. 86. ISBN 1908828005. Retrieved 1 December 2013. 
  3. ^ a b "JSP 761: Honours and Awards in the Armed Forces" (PDF). Ministry of Defence. December 2014. Retrieved 5 February 2015. 
  4. ^ The London Gazette: no. 31674. p. 15049. 5 December 1919. Retrieved 5 February 2015.
  5. ^ Carter, Nick; Carter, Carol (1998). The Distinguished Flying Cross and How It Was Won. London: Savannah Publications. ISBN 190236600X. 
  6. ^ Crompton, Ann, ed. (1999). Edward Carter Preston, 1885–1965: Sculptor, Painter, Medallist. Liverpool: University of Liverpool Art Gallery. ISBN 0853237921. 
  7. ^ "Recommendation: Distinguished Flying Cross". Australian War Memorial. Retrieved 16 June 2016. 
  8. ^ Harris, Paul (8 March 2008). "The brown-eyed, blonde RAF hero who is proud to wear her uniform". The Daily Mail. Retrieved 13 March 2008. 
  9. ^ The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 58633. p. 3616. 7 March 2008. Retrieved 11 November 2007.

External links[edit]