Who can wear medals?

Discussion in 'The Barracks' started by RemeDesertRat, Aug 30, 2015.

  1. RemeDesertRat

    RemeDesertRat Very Senior Member

    A question came up while I was discussing STEAMPUNK with some friends and or acquaintances.

    Question: Should genuine medal ribbons (WW1/WW2 etc) be allowed to be used in making what we all know to be fictitious steampunk costume medals?

    ​Thoughts everyone, especially from those who actually are awarded medals.


    P.S. could you specify if you are awarded a medal or not, just for clarification.
  2. hucks216

    hucks216 Member

    Personally it doesn't bother me if they do and it isn't something I'd lose sleep over. I know there is the 'only those who earned them should wear them' angle but they are just using them for design/aesthetic reasons and are not trying to be something they are not.

    (Awarded 4 Medals with the Royal Navy)
    von Poop and RemeDesertRat like this.
  3. DaveB

    DaveB Very Senior Member

    Pretty much agree with Hucks, I have a handful of medals from my time in the RAAF but I have no problems with people using medals / ribbons for dramatic / play-acting purposes.

    At least in Australia there are a couple of different regulations on the matter. For serving members they are bound by service regulations but those regulations do not apply to civilians (a distinction often missed by self-appointed guardians of how / why / when to wear medals).

    The law that does cover civilians is the Defence Act 1903 (as amended) - it states that a person should not wear medals that they were not awarded, except, if a person is wearing a deceased relative's medals for commemorative purpose; or for a role in an acted / dramatic capacity. The law is deemed to have been broken when the person wearing them claims them as their own.

    The Defence Act does not cover on how or where on the person those medals are to be worn by a civilian - this is where the comments regarding misunderstood service regulations comes in as quite often younger descendants get told off by parade marshals on ANZAC day for not wearing medals correctly (ie on the LH breast). That rule does not apply to civilians (but is does look better when non-awarded medals are worn on the right).
  4. campfollower

    campfollower Member

    I don't feel qualified to comment but, on a lighter note, an officer serving with my husband was awarded a non-goverment medal for saving a life. This he had to wear on the right. Wearing this together with his, then typical, single NI medal, he was frequently compared to a tassle dancer!
    von Poop, Buteman, Drew5233 and 2 others like this.
  5. bamboo43

    bamboo43 Very Senior Member

    Thanks for that campfollower, that made me laugh on a very wet and miserable Bank Holiday Monday.
  6. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot 1940 Obsessive

    Earned (used loosely) three medals with the Army - Don't care either way :)
  7. Red Goblin

    Red Goblin Senior Member

    What I don't understand about medals worn by relatives on the right is whether the mounting order thus needs to be mirrored - easy to flip a single-row ribbon bar, if so, but otherwise non-trivial !

    So far, beyond the obvious*, I've looked in vain at:

    * Page 3351 | Supplement 56878, 17 March 2003 | London Gazette | The Gazette
  8. Ron Goldstein

    Ron Goldstein WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran Patron


    Why complicate matters ?

    Simply move the whole bar to the right hand of the chest

    When i find a pic of mine that demonstrates the correct manner I shall be back


    The pic shows me on parade wearing my brother Mick' Ron with Mick's medals.JPG s medals, literally the day after he passed away
  9. Ron Goldstein

    Ron Goldstein WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran Patron

    Just spotted that Mick's medals are in the wrong order. :(

    You will appreciate that his passing was a very emotional time for me and so when his family gave me his medals to wear on the AJEX parade I was not exactly bothered to check that they were indeed in the right order.

  10. Red Goblin

    Red Goblin Senior Member

    Thanks Ron,

    Isn't the basic idea to wear them in diminishing rank away from the heart - hence requiring reversal on the RHS ? I don't recognise the ribbon on Mick's star but, assuming it ranks higher than his Defence Medal, I'd say you were wearing his set mirrored exactly as anticipated ... which would have indeed been contrary to the order in which he should have personally worn them.

  11. dbf

    dbf Moderatrix MOD

    Ref reversing order of wear for relatives, etc : Seems like over-thinking to me. 'From the heart to the shoulder' thing is a guide for those who wear them most frequently and are entitled to do so as they were intended, on left breast. To my mind it's not meant as fast rule to apply to others who might later wear them on their right by way of commemoration - when removed to put back on a display, they'd look silly court-mounted in reverse.

    Anyway, to get back to the topic, I've never served in forces, never been awarded a medal. My only 'recognition' is the Venture Scout Award. With that in mind I hope my opinion is still worth reading... :p

    It sounds like the ribbons only are used, not medals?
    In any case no one would be pretending to be entitled ex-service personnel, so I personally don't think it matters.

    (Replacement ribbons can be bought by the metre. I've even considered buying some to make up cushion covers. I sincerely hope that isn't being either walt-ish or disrespectful.)
  12. smdarby

    smdarby Well-Known Member

    Agreed - you can pick up whole rolls of medal ribbon on ebay and I don't think there is any issue using it.

    Of course, wearing medals without having earned them is rightly a no-no (except for relatives on the right of the chest as stated above).

    One thing that annoys me is all these reenactors who wear berets they haven't earned. In my view you shouldn't be allowed to wear a military beret, whether red, green or any other colour unless you have passed the training and served. I don't see the difference between this and wearing medals that haven't been earned.
  13. RemeDesertRat

    RemeDesertRat Very Senior Member

    Thanks all for your input, I'll pass on your thoughts to those concerned.
  14. Red Goblin

    Red Goblin Senior Member

    Just to tie up my loose end, FTR and anyone else who may still be wondering, I rang the Honours & Appointments Secretariat today and was referred to Buck House where a lady instantly affirmed my mirror theory as correct without the slightest coercion from me - not, of course, that it's in any way mandatory for relatives to thus follow suit but just a protocol nicety for those of us who like to get things right without fear of unjust criticism. I incidentally agree with Diane's point about reverse court mounting looking silly out of that context but that's no problem to me having always intended to jointly frame my late parents' medals and only wear my dad's ribbon bar, suitably flipped now I know to do so, if & when an occasion arises to demand it. He was, in point of fact, too modest to ever bother mounting his medals and only ever wore the bar - so such an understated compromise suits me just fine as a chip off the old block.
  15. dbf

    dbf Moderatrix MOD

    Interesting thanks, but can't see many bothering. (Will add link to your post on the Campaign medal thread)

    My father never wore his medals either.
  16. Ron Goldstein

    Ron Goldstein WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran Patron

    Following on yesterday's AJEX parade, one ever increasingly sees lots of medals being worn by marchers to commemorate family members who have passed on.

    As I arrived on parade yesterday, i saw someone wearing an identical group of medals to myself on his left breast.

    Fine, I thought, but he looks much too young !

    I thought of going up to him to question his right to wear such decorations and then simply decided against it as being too much hassle but I mentioned the fact to my daughter,purely out of interest.

    Blow me down, but when my battalion fell in to start the march off the very same chap was in the next rank but his medals were being worn on his right breast so obviously someone else had pointed out his gaffe and he had made the necessary changes.!

  17. ritsonvaljos

    ritsonvaljos Senior Member

    My personal take on this is that is any ex-service man or woman has been officially awarded medals and if they wish to wear them for reunions / Remembrance events, etc then that is their choice. I have known some people who would not wear their medals even when attending a Remembrance Sunday event. Knowing what they went through in WW1 and / or WW2, hard won as they were, I can understand and respect their personal decision about this.

    I believe the British Armed Forces guidance is that medals and service decorations should be worn only by the person to whom they have been awarded "... and in no case does the right to wear war or service medals, or their ribbons, pass to any relative when the recipient is dead." The exception to this is in connection with Remembrance Day, and only on those days, when relatives of a deceased relative can wear the medals on the right breast (i.e. as Ron did for his brother in post #8).

    As I am not ex-Armed Forces I do not wear any medals at Remembrance events, not even those of deceased relatives. However, I will wear at least one poppy and sometimes the 'Friends' tie and regimental badge of the Cumbria Museum of Military Life (as I am a member). Occasionally I have had someone ask when I served in the Border Regiment ... and I can explain that I am not an ex-serviceman but wearing the tie and badge is in honour of many deceased relatives who did.

    From time to time there are of course people who are found wearing medals they are not entitled to and claiming they are ex-service personnel. There have been examples on this forum in the past but they are probably few and far between.
  18. Smudger Jnr

    Smudger Jnr Our Man in Berlin

    I wear only the two medals awarded to me and have never even considered wearing my late Fathers five medals from WW2 when I attend Remembrance services during the year, here in Berlin.

  19. snailer

    snailer Country Member

    [​IMG] [​IMG]

    I take it you've fired off letters of complaint.
  20. Peter Clare

    Peter Clare Very Senior Member

    I have never worn my fathers medals as I did not earn them. I do at times wear a 120 Squadron tie as I was an honoury member of the Squadron
    geoff501 and dbf like this.

Share This Page