The British (Imperial) Distinguished Service Order

Insignia of the Imperial Distinguished Service Order

This order was established to reward officers who exhibited individual instances of meritorious or distinguished service in war.  It was usually awarded for service under fire or under conditions equivalent to service in actual combat with the enemy.  However, from 1914 to 1916 it was awarded under circumstances which could not be regarded as under fire. After January 1, 1917, commanders in the field were instructed to recommend this award only for those serving under fire. Prior to 1943, the order could be given only to someone who had already been Mentioned in Despatches.  The order is generally given to officers in command above the rank of Lieutenant-Colonel.  Awards to ranks below this are usually for a high degree of gallantry just short of deserving the Victoria Cross.


A bar is awarded for an act which would have earned the order in the first place. The bar is plain gold with an Imperial Crown in the centre. The year of the award is engraved on the reverse. A silver rosette on the ribbon alone is worn in undress uniform. 


A gold cross with curved ends, overlaid with white enamel. 


In the centre, within a wreath of laurel, enamelled green, the Imperial Crown in gold upon a red enamelled ground. 


Within a wreath of laurel, enamelled green, the Royal Cypher in gold upon a red enamelled ground. 


A ring at the top of the medal attaches to a ring at the bottom of a gold bar, ornamented with laurel. At the top of the ribbon is a second gold bar ornamented with laurel. 


The crimson ribbon is 1.125 inches wide with narrow blue edges. A rosette is worn on the ribbon in undress to signify the award of a bar. 


The Royal Warrant was published in the London Gazette on 09 November 1886. 


Officially unnamed, some recipients have privately had their names engraved on the back of the suspension bar.


Originally gold; Silver-Gilt (since 1889) 


Height 55mm ; Max Width 41.5mm


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