Military and civilian honours in The Gazette

The Gazette has been recording military and civilian achievements and honours for over 350 years. From those awarded in the monarch’s Birthday and New Year Honours lists to soldiers gazetted during World War 1 and World War 2, The Gazette’s extensive archives contain vast amounts of historical information which can be searched for free.

OBE medal 2018

What military and civilian honours are announced in The Gazette?

New Year and Birthday honours

The King's New Year and Birthday Honours are published in The Gazette twice a year, at New Year and on the King's official birthday. These supplements are published on behalf of the Central Chancery of the Orders of Knighthood.

The Birthday and New Year Honours lists detail military, civilian and diplomatic awards (other than for gallantry), including:

  • Companion of Honour – an honour given to individuals who have made a significant contribution to the arts, science, medicine or the government over a long period of time. It is limited to just 65 people at any one time.
  • Knight or Dame – the two senior ranks of the Order of the British Empire are Knight or Dame Grand Cross, and Knight or Dame Commander. The honours are awarded to members who have made major contributions to any activity, usually at national level.
  • C.B.E. (Commander of the Order of the British Empire) –the highest-ranking Order of the British Empire honour (excluding a knighthood/damehood), awarded to individuals who have a prominent role at national level, or a leading role at regional level, for distinguished and innovative contribution in any area.
  • O.B.E.(Officer of the Order of the British Empire) –awarded to individuals who have made major contributions at a local level, or whose work has gained a national profile.
  • M.B.E.(Member of the Order of the British Empire) –awarded for an outstanding achievement or service to the community which has had a long-term, significant impact.
  • British Empire Medal (B.E.M.) – awarded for a 'hands-on' service to the local community. This could be a long-term charitable or voluntary activity, or innovative work of a relatively short duration (3 to 4 years) that has made a significant difference.
  • Royal Victorian Order (R.V.O.) – an award given by the monarch usually to people who have helped personally, such as members of the Royal household staff or British ambassadors.

New Year and Birthday Honours

Commonwealth honours

Citizens of all 15 commonwealth realms may also receive honours through the UK honours system. Countries who can publish Birthday and New Year Honours lists include:

  • Antigua and Barbuda
  • Australia
  • Bahamas
  • Belize
  • Canada
  • Cook Islands
  • Grenada
  • Jamaica
  • Papua New Guinea
  • St Christopher and Nevis
  • Saint Lucia
  • St Vincent and the Grenadines
  • Solomon Islands
  • Tuvalu

Commonwealth New Year and Birthday Honours

Other honours and awards

Alongside the Birthday and New Year Honours, a range of other honours lists are published in supplements to The Gazette, including:

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
  • Imperial Service Medal
  • Polar Medal

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Military achievements

The Gazette is the official bearer of War Office and Ministry of Defence (MOD) events. For hundreds of years The Gazette has been publishing honours and awards for gallantry and meritorious service in the armed forces, from the Crimean War to World War 1 and World War 2, making it a key resource for researchers and historians.

Today, military personnel are gazetted in weekly Ministry of Defence supplements, which are published in The London Gazette every Tuesday. These supplements include commissions, appointments and medals for the Royal Navy, British Army and Royal Air Force.

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Mentioned in despatches

A soldier who has been mentioned in despatches (MiD) is someone who has appeared in an official report written by a superior officer, which had then been sent on to the War Office. The report would have described the gallant or meritorious action that the subject had taken in the face of the enemy.

Despatches in the British armed forces were published in The Gazette. A mention would usually cite the person’s name, rank, number and regiment/unit. However, text explaining the reason why an individual was chosen is uncommon. 

You can view all World War 1 despatches and World War 2 despatches on The Gazette website.

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Gazette commemorative edition

Celebrate your honour with a commemorative edition

If you or a loved one have been honoured by the Queen or mentioned in despatches, The Gazette is available to buy as a personalised commemorative edition. Each pack contains a complete edition of The Gazette from the day the honour was published.