Unofficial history of the Australian & New Zealand Armed Services 

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Medals of interest to Australians

  • The process of awarding orders, decorations, medals for heroism, medals for exemplary service, medals for serving in a campaign and medals for long service is a well established and growing practice. 


  • Pick the time period or country that interests you from the list below and have fun . . .


Victoria Cross

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<<< Instituted in 1890, the Liyakat Medal became the basic military decoration of the Ottoman Empire (Turkey) until the end of the First World War. It was issued in gold or silver.

 Awards made during this war only bore a ribbon clasp of crossed sabers with the year 1333 (1915) in the same metal as the medal.

Medal for the China War (Boxer Rebellion)


  • There is a difference between "bars" and "clasps" although sometimes the two get mixed up. Supporting "bars" are another thing altogether.

  • A bar represents the award of another medal of the same type. As wearing 2 or more identical medals would look silly a bar is worn on the riband of the medal to indicate the second award.

  •  Bars are appropriate only on gallantry or distinguished service medals.

  • A clasp is a metal bar across the riband that carries a date or campaign or battle name. It was in the past common to issue only 1 medal for a war but to issue clasps for each significant action. 

  • Clasps are appropriate on campaign medals. 

  • Clasps are sometimes used on long service medals to indicate a further period of service, after the original qualifying period.

  • None of the above refers to the supporting "bar" that is used to hang the medal and that sometimes carries a date, campaign or battle name.

The Bisley Medallion.

Awarded to winners of the premier shooting competition in the British Empire or Commonwealth


  • Medals were usually impressed on the edge with the service number, rank, initials and name of the recipient along with the unit in which he served. 

  • More recently it has become the practice to engrave just the name and regimental number on the reverse.




1939/45 Star


ANZAC Medallion

Distinguished Unit Citation

(Presidential Unit Citation)

The Distinguished Unit Citation was re-designated the Presidential Unit Citation (Army)  3 November 1966.

German Iron Cross 2nd Class

Italian WW2 War medal

Japanese campaign medal for the Great East Asian War (WW2)

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Digger History:  an unofficial history of the Australian & New Zealand Armed Forces