Pip, Squeak and Wilfred

Pip, Squeak and Wilfred are the names given to the trio of commemorative medals (The 1914 (or 1914-15) Star, The British War Medal and The Allied Victory Medal)  issued to personnel of the British and Empire Forces who took part in the Great War.   Pip, Squeak and Wilfred were characters in a comic strip which first appeared in the Daily Mirror on 12th May 1919 and became very popular in the 1920’s coinciding with the issue of the medals to forces personnel.

The 1914 Star

The 1914 Star (colloquially known as the Mons Star) was a British Empire campaign medal for service in World War I.

The 1914 Star was approved in 1917, for issue to officers and men of British forces who served in France or Belgium between 5 August and midnight 22/23 November 1914. The former date is the day after Britain’s declaration of war against the Central Powers, and the closing date marks the end of the First Battle of Ypres.

The majority of recipients were officers and men of the pre-war British army, specifically the British Expeditionary Force (the Old Contemptibles), who landed in France soon after the outbreak of the War and who took part in the retreat from Mons (hence the nickname ‘Mons Star’). 365,622 were awarded in total

The 1914-1915 Star

Granted to all officers and men who actively served on the establishment of a unit in a Theatre of War, for example France or Belgium, between midnight 22 November 1914 and midnight 31 December 1915.

All men who fought in the war were awarded both the British War Medal and the Allied Victory Medal  when the war ended. These were sent to their home address. If they could not be delivered they were returned to the War Office and liable for destruction after 7 years.

The British War Medal 1914-1918

Established on 26th July 1919.

Also known as ‘Squeak’. The silver or bronze medal was awarded to officers and men of the British and Imperial Forces who either entered a theatre of war or entered service overseas between 5th August 1914 and 11th November 1918 inclusive. This was later extended to services in Russia, Siberia and some other areas in 1919 and 1920.

Approximately 6.5 million British War Medals were issued, of which 6.4 million were the silver versions of this medal. Around 110,000 of a bronze version were issued mainly to Chinese, Maltese and Indian Labour Corps. The front (obv or obverse) of the medal depicts the head of George V.

The recipient’s service number, rank, name and unit was impressed on the rim.

The Allied Victory Medal

Also known as ‘Wilfred’

It was decided that each of the allies should each issue their own bronze victory medal with a similar design, similar equivalent wording and identical ribbon.

The British medal was designed by W. McMillan. The front depicts a winged classical figure representing victory.

Approximately 5.7 million victory medals were issued. Interestingly, eligibility for this medal was more restrictive and not everyone who received the British War Medal (‘Squeak’) also received the Victory Medal (‘Wilfred’). However, in general, all recipients of ‘Wilfred’ also received ‘Squeak’ and all recipients of ‘Pip’ also received both ‘Squeak’ and ‘Wilfred’.

The recipient’s service number, rank, name and unit was impressed on the rim.

The Silver War Badge

The Silver War Badge was issued in the United Kingdom to service personnel who had been honourably discharged due to wounds or sickness during the war. The badge, sometimes known as the Discharge Badge, Wound Badge or Services Rendered Badge, was first issued in September 1916, along with an official certificate of entitlement.

The sterling silver lapel badge was intended to be worn in civilian clothes. It had been the practice of some women to present white feathers to apparently able-bodiedyoung men who were not wearing the King’s uniform. The badge was to be worn on the right breast while in civilian dress, it was forbidden to wear on a military uniform.

The badge bears the royal cipher of GRI (for Georgius Rex Imperator; George, King and Emperor) and around the rim “For King and Empire; Services Rendered”. Each badge was uniquely numbered on the reverse. The War Office made it known that they would not replace Silver War Badges if they went missing, however if one was handed into a police station then it would be returned to the War Office. If the original recipient could be traced at his or her discharge address then the badge would be returned

The Military Medal

The Military Medal was established in wartime Britain by King George V on 25 March 1916, a year and a half after Britain declared war against Germany.  Its inception was intended to meet the enormous demand for medals during the First World War.

The medal was initially awarded to NCOs and men of the Army (including the Royal Flying Corps and Royal Naval Division) for individual or associated acts of bravery which were insufficient to merit an award of the Distinguished Conduct Medal (or DCM).  Wartime recipients included the airman James McCudden (who achieved 57 aerial victories as an air ace).



The Military Medal was awarded to the following 8 men from the 152nd:

Bourne, Wilfred Addley                    Day, Maurice James

Grant, Albert George                   Harvey, Frederick

Kirk, Arnold Victor                  Salmonds, William

Skegg, Cecil George Heather                    Wilkinson, Francis Leslie

The medal was not however restricted to British or Commonwealth subjects.  Foreign recipients included the Frenchman Rene Fonck and the American Raoul Lufbery.  The medal was awarded on the recommendation of a Commander-in-Chief in the field.  A silver laurelled bar was awarded for subsequent acts of bravery and devotion under fire.

The medal was subsequently awarded to women: two were awarded to two civilian women in recognition of their role during the 1916 Easter Rising in Dublin.

Awards of the medal were announced in the London Gazette (without an accompanying citation).

Recipients of the medal, which was silver and circular of 36mm in diameter and which featured the head of the monarch on the front, were allowed to list the letters ‘MM’after their name.  As many as 115,600 were awarded during the First World War, along with 5,796 first bars, 180 second bars and 1 third bar.  A further 15,000 Military Medals were awarded during the Second World War.

The fact that the Military Medal was only awarded to the ranks (and not to officers) was, in some quarters, seen as divisive as it undermined the concept that bravery was a common quality. The award of the MM did not require a written citation and thus it is not always easy to confirm why individual medals were awarded.