Distinguished Service Order

from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Distinguished Service Order

The Distinguished Service Order ( German  order for excellent service ) is a military war decoration part of the British order system and is awarded to members of the British armed forces for excellent and meritorious service in armed conflicts, mostly in combat. It used to be given to officers from other Commonwealth nations .


The award was donated by Queen Victoria on September 6, 1886 . The Distinguished Service Order was seen as the second highest valor distinction after the Victoria Cross . The award could only be given regularly for bravery during combat operations. Usually the award was made to officers from the rank of major upwards. In rare cases, officers with a lower rank for special bravery also received the award.

In the First World War 8981 Distinguished Service Orders were presented in total, in the first years also to officers of rods. From 1917 onwards, however, the award could only be made for direct use at the front.

Since 1942, the award can also be given to merchant navy officers for bravery in the face of an enemy. Since the Conspicuous Gallantry Cross was introduced in 1993, the Distinguished Service Order is no longer awarded for individual bravery, but as an award for exceptional leadership qualities - now to soldiers of all ranks. It replaces both the Distinguished Conduct Medal and the Military Medal .

Order structure

The order is one class, its members are referred to as companions . However, like all British war awards, the award can be awarded multiple times. This is then indicated by a special clasp ("bar") on the medal ribbon.


The medal is a gold-rimmed, white-enameled cross with the gold Imperial State Crown inside a green laurel cross on a purple background; on the back there are the initials of the reigning British monarch. The cross is worn on a blue-rimmed, red, 1.125 inch wide ribbon that is bordered at  the top and bottom by a gold bar on which bay leaves are depicted.

The clasp for further awards is made of gold with an image of the Imperial State Crown in the center.

Hierarchy and privileges

The members of the Order have a position in the protocol Aryan ranking in the UK ( Order of Precedence ), a list in which the registered persons are classified according to their nominal significance and plays an important role in ceremonial events. Wives of male members are also listed there.

Recipients of the Distinguished Service Order are entitled to use the letters "DSO" after their name, which indicate the distinction (so-called "post-nominal").

Prominent recipients


  • Paul Ohm Hieronymussen: Handbook of European orders in colors . Universitas Verlag, Berlin 1966.

Web links

Commons : Distinguished Service Order  - collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. Medals: campaigns, descriptions and eligibility - Distinguished Service Order . On: gov.uk