The George Medal (GM) is the second level civil decoration of the United Kingdom and Commonwealth. The GM was instituted on 24 September 1940 by King George VI. The medal is presented to those performing acts of bravery in, or meriting recognition by, the United Kingdom.
In 1940, during the height of The Blitz, there was a strong desire to reward the many acts of civilian courage. The existing awards open to civilians were not judged suitable to meet the new situation, therefore it was decided that the George Cross and the GM would be instituted to recognise both civilian gallantry in the face of enemy action and brave deeds more generally.
In order that they should be worthily and promptly recognised, I have decided to create, at once, a new mark of honour for men and women in all walks of civilian life. I propose to give my name to this new distinction, which will consist of the George Cross, which will rank next to the Victoria Cross, and the George Medal for wider distribution.
The Warrant for the GM (along with that of the GC), dated 24 January 1941, was published in the London Gazette on 31 January 1941. The first award was to Patrick King of Shiremoor, Northumberland, an air-raid warden who rescued a blind woman from a house during an air-raid.
The medal is granted in recognition of "acts of great bravery". The original Warrant for the George Medal did not permit it to be awarded posthumously. This was changed in November 1977 to allow posthumous awards, several of which have been subsequently made.
The medal is primarily a civilian award, but it may be awarded to military personnel for gallant conduct that is not in the face of the enemy. As the Warrant states:
The Medal is intended primarily for civilians and award in Our military services is to be confined to actions for which purely military Honours are not normally granted.
Bars are awarded to the GM in recognition of the performance of further acts of bravery meriting the award. In undress uniform or on occasions when the medal ribbon alone is worn, a silver rosette is worn on the ribbon to indicate each bar. Recipients are entitled to the postnominal letters GM.
The details of all awards to British and Commonwealth recipients are published in the London Gazette. Approximately 2,122 medals have been awarded since its inception in 1940.
The GM is a circular silver medal. The obverse depicts the crowned effigy of the reigning monarch. The reverse shows St. George on horseback slaying the dragon on the coast of England, with the legend "THE GEORGE MEDAL" around the top edge of the medal. The ribbon is 32mm, crimson with five narrow blue stripes. The blue colour is taken from the George Cross ribbon.
- See List of recipients of the George Medal
- British and Commonwealth orders and decorations
- Abbott, P. E. and Tamplin, JMA, British Gallantry Awards, (1981), Nimrod Dix and Co.
- Duckers, P., British Gallantry Awards 1855â"2000, (2001), Shire Publications.
- Mackay, J. and Mussell, J. (eds), Medal Yearbook â" 2005, (2004), Token Publishing.
- New Zealand Defence Force â" Medal information page
- Search recommendations for the George Medal on The UK National Archives' website
- British Military & Criminal History in the period 1900 to 1999 â" George Medal