The Distinguished Service Order (DSO) is a military decoration of the United Kingdom, and formerly of other Commonwealth countries, awarded for meritorious or distinguished service by officers of the armed forces during wartime, typically in actual combat. It was instituted on 6 September 1886 by Queen Victoria in a Royal Warrant published in the London Gazette on 9 November. 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.
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 gold bar ornamented by the Crown may be issued to DSO holders performing a further act of such leadership which would have merited award of the DSO.
Bar Back Engraving
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.
This medal is supplied with a loose ribbons as it would have originally have been awarded. If you would like this medal mounted on a bar (either on its own or group mounted with other medals purchased) please select from the options below (Full-size Commemorative & Official Medals CANNOT be group mounted together):