British War Medal

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The British War Medal was a medal given to people who had fought in the First World War. The medal was originally meant to be for people who had fought in the war between 5th August1914 and 11th November1918, but this was later changed to the years between 1914 and 1920. This was because a lot of people still lost their lives in the armed forces even after the war had ended, because they were clearing landmines or mines at sea.

The British War Medal (often shortened to BWM) was awarded to both officers and men of the Royal Marines, Royal Navy, the Army and also the Dominion and Colonial Forces. The Dominion and Colonial Forces were the armed forces for the rest of the British Empire. To qualify for (be allowed to have) the medal, a member of the fighting forces had to have left his native country in any part of the British Empire whilst on military duty.

There were over six and a half million British War Medals given out. Most of them are made of silver, but some rarer ones are made of bronze instead. They are all circular, and have different designs on each side. Each side of a medal is called a face. The face that usually has a picture of the side view of a person's head on it is called the obverse, and the other side of the medal is called the reverse. The picture of the person's head is more commonly known as a bust, which is a type of statue that only shows the head, neck and tops of the shoulders of the person it is meant to be.

The obverse side of the medal shows a bust of King George V (V is a Roman numeral. Here it means 'the fifth'). The picture shows him facing left. There is also lettering around the picture of the King, which reads 'GEORGIVS V BRITT : OMN : REX ET IND : IMP :'. The 'V' in 'GEORGIVS' is actually read as a 'U'. The whole message is abbreviated, or shortened, and is supposed to read 'Georgius V Britanniarum Omnium; Rex Et Indiae; Imperator'. The message is written in Latin, but in English it says 'George 5th of all the Britons (British people); King of India; Emperor'.

The reverse side of the medal shows a man riding on a rearing horse. The man shown is Saint George, the patron saint of England. He is shown naked, and is holding a short sword. This was supposed to symbolise the mental and physical strength that was needed to win the First World War. The horse is trampling a shield that showns the emblem of Prussia and the Central Powers, which were the enemies the British and other Allies were fighting during World War One (the First World War). The horse is also trampling on a skull and cross-bones, and the rising sun, known as the Victory Sun can be seen by St. George's head. The dates '1914' and '1918' are on the left and right sides of his head.

The name of the soldier whose medal it was had his name, regiment and armed forces identification number put around the rim (edge) of the medal. The medal also came with a ribbon made of silk. It had a thick line of golden-yellow down the middle of it, with stripes on either side of it that were white, then black, then Royal blue on the outside edges of the ribbon.

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