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The Distinguished Service Order (DSO) is a military decoration of the United Kingdommarker, and formerly of other Commonwealth countries, awarded for meritorious or distinguished service by officers of the armed forces during wartime, typically in actual combat.

The DSO was instituted on 6 September 1886 by Queen Victoria in a Royal Warrant published in the London Gazette on 9 November. The first awards were dated 25 November 1886. It is typically awarded to officers ranked Major (or its equivalent) or higher, but the honour has sometimes been awarded to especially valorous junior officers. 8,981 DSOs were awarded during World War I, each award being announced in the London Gazette.

The order was established for rewarding individual instances of meritorious or distinguished service in war. It was a military order, until recently for officers only, and normally given for service under fire or under conditions equivalent to service in actual combat with the enemy, although it was awarded between 1914 and 1916 under circumstances which could not be regarded as under fire (often to staff officers, which caused resentment among front-line officers). After 1 January 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 Mentioned in Despatches. The order is generally given to officers in command, above the rank of Captain. A number of more junior officers were awarded the DSO, and this was often regarded as an acknowledgement that the officer had only just missed out on the award of the Victoria Cross.

During World War II the DSO was awarded to 870 RAF officers, with 62 receiving a first bar, 11 a second bar, and 8 a third bar. In 1942 the award of the DSO was extended to officers of the Merchant Navy who had performed acts of gallantry while under enemy attack.

Since 1993, its award has been restricted solely for distinguished service (i.e. leadership and command by any rank), with the Conspicuous Gallantry Cross being introduced as the second highest award for gallantry. It has, however, thus far only been awarded to senior officers as before.

Recipients of the order are officially known as Companions of the Distinguished Service Order. They are entitled to use the post-nominal letters "DSO". A bar is added to the ribbon for each subsequent award of the order to a holder.

Description

  • The medal signifying its award is a gold (silver-gilt) cross, enamelled white and edged in gold. In the centre, within a wreath of laurel, enamelled green, is the Imperial Crown in gold upon a red enamelled ground.
  • On the reverse is the Royal Cypher in gold upon a red enamelled ground, within a wreath of laurel, enamelled green. A ring at the top of the medal attaches to a ring at the bottom of a gold "suspension" bar, ornamented with laurel. At the top of the ribbon is a second gold bar ornamented with laurel.
  • The red ribbon is wide with narrow blue edges. The medals are issued unnamed but some recipients have had their names engraved on the reverse of the suspension bar.
  • The bar for a second award is plain gold with an Imperial Crown in the centre. The back of the bar is engraved with the year of the award. A rosette is worn on the ribbon in undress uniform to signify the award of a bar.


Notable recipients

For more recipients, see: :Category:Companions of the Distinguished Service Order.


See also



References



External links






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