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Wednesday, 3 October 2023

Military medals and coats of arms

The MOD Medal Office and Veterans UK can help you with information about the history of service medals, and how medals are awarded and replaced. The National Archives has records of World War One medals. The College of Arms can help you with information about coats of arms.

Military medals

MOD Medal Office

The MOD Medal Office holds details of most campaign medals issued from the 1920s onwards, and is the authority for all questions about current campaign medals.

It provides two main services: issuing post-World War One medals to people who are entitled but have never received them, and replacing medals under certain conditions.

Veterans UK

The Veterans UK website gives information on how medals are instituted, and on how to claim or replace medals, or to find out if someone is entitled to a medal that they didn't claim at the time.

There is also information about the new Arctic Emblem issued for service in the Arctic Convoys of World War Two, and about the medal awarded for service in the Suez Canal Zone from 1951 to 1954.

Men and women who served in HM Armed Forces at any time before 1994 are entitled to a Veteran’s Lapel Badge, a survivors’ badge to be worn on civilian clothing.

World War One medal records

The National Archives holds the index to the medal rolls for World War One, as well as the original medal rolls. The records provide very brief details of service, such as the regiment and theatre of war served in. You can search the index online, and download a copy of the medal index cards for a small fee.

Heraldry and coats of arms

The right to a coat of arms

Coats of arms don't belong to surnames, they belong to individuals. To have a right to a coat of arms, either it must be granted to you, or you must be descended in the legitimate male line from the person who it was originally granted to.

The College of Arms holds the official registers of the coats of arms and pedigrees of English, Welsh, Northern Irish and Commonwealth families and their descendants. (Scotland and Canada have their own heraldic authorities.)

The granting of arms

Coats of arms and crests may be granted to individuals or corporations; a fee is payable. There are no fixed eligibility criteria for a grant of arms, but such things as awards or honours from the Crown, civil or military commissions, university degrees, professional qualifications, public and charitable services, and eminence or good standing are taken into account.

Corporate bodies given the right to bear arms include towns and cities, local authorities, schools and universities, charities, hospitals and some commercial companies. They must be well established, of sound financial standing, and be a leading or respected body in their field.

Honours, bravery awards and orders of chivalry

You can find information on the UK honours system and other awards in the Honours, decorations and awards section.

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