National and personal achievements: military and civilian honours

For over 350 years, The Gazette has charted British history. From military triumphs to royal births, our national narrative has been recorded in Britain's oldest newspaper. And in amongst our national highs and lows are thousands of individual stories of personal triumph.

New Year and Birthday honours

King George V brought about a permanent and wide-ranging change to the British honours system when he introduced the Order of British Empire in June 1917. Ranging from Knights and Dames Grand Cross (GBE) to the British Empire Medal (BEM), these awards rewarded British and Empire civilians who were helping the war effort and, for the first time, recognised the contribution of women.

Divided from 1918 into military and civilian divisions, the order recognised outstanding military service of a non-combatant nature or a distinguished contribution to the state in the arts and sciences, public services outside the civil service and charitable work. With these regular awards came the institution of the Birthday and New Year honours lists, published as supplements to The Gazette. Honours are published in The Gazette twice a year – between May and June on the Queen's official birthday, and at the New Year. There are several supplements which detail honours for the UK and overseas territories and dependencies, including:

  • Antigua
  • Barbados
  • Belize
  • Cook Islands
  • Papua New Guinea
  • Solomon Islands
  • St. Christopher and Nevis
  • St. Lucia
  • Tuvalu

These supplements are published on behalf of the Central Chancery of the Orders of Knighthood. They detail military, civilian and diplomatic awards other than for gallantry, including:

  • Companion of Honour (CH)
  • Knight or Dame
  • Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE)
  • Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE)
  • Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE)
  • British Empire Medal (BEM)
  • Overseas Territories Police and Fire Services Medals
  • Royal Victorian Order (RVO)

See also: New Year and Birthday honours supplements by year.

Other honours and awards

In addition to the well-known Queen's Birthday and New Year honours, a range of other honours and awards are published in supplements to The Gazette.

On the rare occasions of the announcement of the higher honours for military and civilian bravery, the listing is accompanied by a citation of the deeds leading to the award.

Other honours detailed in supplements, and published on behalf of the Central Chancery of the Orders of Knighthood, include:

  • military and civilian gallantry
  • operational honours for the armed forces
  • the Imperial Service Medal for long service and good conduct in the civil service
  • the Polar Medal for service in the polar regions

Military achievements

During World War I, existing medals and military honours for bravery were extended to reflect the changing nature of conflict. The Military Cross (MC) was created in December 1914, followed in March 1916 by the creation of the Military Medal (MM). The Royal Warrants instituting both awards appeared in The Gazette, and by 1920, over 120,000 MMs and 40,000 MCs had been gazetted.

Today, the Ministry of Defence Supplement to The London Gazette is published weekly on Tuesdays, on behalf of the forces. It includes commissions, appointments and medals for the Royal Navy, Army and Royal Air Force.

Mentioned in despatches

During the Boer War, despatches were frequently accompanied by regular lists of those awarded medals or whose conduct was to be noted. While the names of those whose conduct was noteworthy are sometimes recorded within the text of a despatch, it became common practice to provide a separate list of such names after the main despatch, an appearance in such lists becoming known as a 'mention in despatches'.

Celebrating and sharing success

If you have been gazetted, you can mark and share your success in several ways. Commemorative editions provide a special reminder of your achievement. Or you can share your own success, or those of someone else, by searching and sharing it through social media.

Further information