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  • Greg Faux

Military Medals: The Small Detail that makes your family's medal unique

Many people who inherit a family members military medals do not realise there is more information on the medal that initially meets the eye.

There is a small detail on military medals that makes your family's military medal unique. That is, most often the name of the recipient is stamped or engraved onto the individual medals.

Where the name appears can vary depending on the medal, but typically they will either be named on the back of the medal or around the bottom edge of the medal.


From a researching point of view, the naming of medals is very important as any number of a particular medals can be produced but the recipients name on the medal is one of the unique elements. This addition to the medal also provides a connection to a particular conflict and time period that they saw service.


Going back to the 1880’s medals issued to Australians where “Chisel Engraved” with the recipients service number, rank, initials and surname. During the Boer War 1899 – 1902, medals awarded to Australians typically were impressed by using a stamp to identify the recipient.


With medals issued for service in WW1, the 1914 Star or 1914-1915 Star was named on the back of the medal due to its design. Whereas the British War Medal and the Allied Victory Medal were named on the bottom edge of the medal.


In WW2 it was much the same however, not all WW2 stars awarded to Australians were named. Therefore if you have a relatives WW2 Star/s and they are not named do not be alarmed it is not unusual for this to be the case. Something to keep in mind is that the round medals issued to Australians are always named around the bottom edge. If the Australian Service Medal 45-75 is part of a WW2 group, these medals are named on the back. It is interesting to note that WW2 campaign medals issued to the British were named, so when we see a WW2 round medal without a name it usually means it was a British issue.

Today all medals that belong to the Australian Honours and Awards system and are issued to Australians are named by engraving around the bottom edge or on the back of the medal. The details engraved include the persons service number, their initials and their surname.

Over recent years a number of what we call ‘foreign medals’ such as medals issued to Australians by the United Nations, NATO or countries such as the USA are not named. With the appropriate Government approval, these foreign medals can be mounted alongside with Australian medals, but the foreign medals will always come after Australian Medals.

If you have any questions about the naming conventions of your family’s military medal naming conventions, we’d be happy to assist. Send us an enquiry or call us today on (07) 3871 0600.

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