Foreign awards and decorations to British soldiers

Records of the foreign awards

Many Allied and friendly governments granted awards and decorations to men serving in the British Army. The most common examples include the French Croix de Guerre and Medaille Militaire.

The various awards were announced in the London Gazette, usually replicated a day or two later by the Times. The London Gazette and Times have been digitised and are searchable online, although the Times Archive has restricted access. You may be able to access it free of charge through your local library.

The foreign awards did not have a nationally published citation describing the act or service for which it was given.

The French Journal Officiel is now searchable online. It includes announcements (in French language) of their awards to British soldiers. It is not the easiest site to search but persistence pays off!
Citation

An example of a listing of French Medailles Militaire awarded to British and Commonwealth troops, found in the “Journal Officiel”.

Tip: some mentions of the awards, very occasionally with citations, appear in unit war diaries and published unit, formation or regimental histories (as in the example shown below).
Citation

An example of a citation for the French Croix de Guerre, given to 45947 Sergeant G. R. Baird of 88 Brigade (Royal Field Artillery). This was found in the brigade’s war diary.

It is common to find a reference to a foreign award in a man’s army service record but not in his campaign medals records.

These awards are sometimes mentioned in local newspaper articles.

Information can sometimes be found in the Foreign Office correspondence files held at the National Archives. There is an index system, arranged by year and alphabetical order of subject. “Foreign decorations”, “Decorations” and the man’s surname are sensible starting points. The index is not online and must be consulted at the National Archives.