Most gallantry awards were made for specific acts of bravery or meritorious conduct in the field, although some were also given in the New Year and King’s Birthday Honours to recognise distinguished service under other conditions. See The British gallantry awards of the Great War
Some types of award had a published citation describing the act. The New Year and King’s Birthday Honours (in each June) do not have citations and you will not find a citation for the Military Medal or the Mention in Despatches. It is possible (but rare) that reasons for the latter will be found in the war diary of the man’s unit.
The awards and citations were published in the “London Gazette”, 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
- Tip: citations and mentions of the awards often appear in unit war diaries and published unit, formation or regimental histories.
The National Archives has an incomplete card index to gallantry awards, giving details of the London Gazette issue in which it appeared.
- These cards have been digitised and are searchable at Ancestry in the campaign medal index cards collection.
- They are also at TheGenealogist.