Distinguished Conduct Medal (for the West African Frontier Force)
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The Distinguished Conduct Medal was established by Queen Victoria in 1854. It became apparent during the course of the Crimean War that an award was needed to recognize acts of gallantry performed by men of other ranks in the British Army. In its absence, the Meritorious Service Medal was occasionally awarded for this reason, although it was not its intended purpose. During the First World War, the Military Medal was established as a lesser alternative to the Distinguished Conduct Medal, with the Distinguished Conduct Medal being reserved for only the most exceptional of acts. The Medal was also awarded to military personnel of Commonwealth nations and colonies and continued to be awarded until 1993 when it was permanently discontinued and replaced by the Conspicuous Gallantry Cross.
The Medal was awarded to Non-Commissioned Officers and men of other ranks in the British Army in recognition of acts of gallantry. In 1881, it was established that the Medal could be awarded more than once to the same recipient in which case bar clasps were worn on the ribbon to denote each additional award. In 1920 it was reiterated in a Royal Warrant that the Medal was used to recognize acts performed in the face of the enemy. In 1947, an amendment was passed that extended the Medal to military personnel of the Royal Navy and the Royal Air Force for acts of gallantry performed on land, although many medals had already been awarded in this fashion.
Recipients have been entitled to use the post-nominal letters DCM since the amendment of 1918.
There are multiple versions of the medal that differ according to the obverse engraving and inscription. The medals have always been issued named, although the style of both the inscription and its typeface have changed over time. The years were included in the recipient details from 1881 until approximately 1900.
The clasps were also originally engraved with the year of issue until 1917 when they were changed to a more generic laurel design.
A separate Royal Warrant was issued in 1894 outlining the Distinguished Conduct Medal for Dominions and Colonies. This warrant was issued to establish a unique medal for each of these territories, although the writing is vague and only a handful were officially awarded with a modified reverse, all other citizens of the Commonwealth received the Imperial model.
Additionally, members of the King’s African Rifles and the West Africa Frontier Force were awarded with unique medals. These medals are inscribed with the organization on the reverse and were awarded from the early 1900s until 1942, when they were discontinued in favour of the Imperial model.
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