Africa Star issue

I have a photo of my grandfather in which he has a single ribbon on his uniform. It is for the Africa Star, showing the numeral 1 denoting service with the 1st Army.

I am trying to date the photo so was wondering when the ribbons would have been dished out so at least I have an earliest possible date.

Ideas, anyone?
Mr Dragon,

The Africa Star was issuedfor entry into an operational area in N Africa between 10 June 1940 and 12 May 1943 (end of ops in N Africa). also service in Abyssinia (Ethiopia now) Somalialand Eritrea and Malta qualified for this award.
The No 1 you mentioned was awarded to denote service in the First Army between 23 October 1942 and 23 May 1943.
This should help you in discovering an approximate date.
Sorry, but I collect military medals as a hobby, so apologies if I sound like an anorak.
All the best in your research.
Thanks for the replies.

So, at a guess, were the medals conceived and ribbons issued as the war progressed and upon the conclusion of various campaigns and then the 'actual' medals awarded at the end?

I think I remember reading somewhere that the 1939-45 Star was originally meant to be the 1939-43 Star. I would have thought that the Defence and War medals would only have been thought of at the conclusion of the war.

So in theory could a serviceman nearing the end of the war already have ribbons for the 1939/43 (became 45) Star, Africa Star and Air Crew Europe Star? With the qualifying campaigns for the others still ongoing.


War Hero
The only ribbon I recall seeing during wartime service was the Africa Star. I have not seen any other service personnel wearing any other ribbons but would be pleased if someone could disprove this. The medals themselves were not decided upon until 1948 and anyone who had been demobbed by then had to apply for them. This is the reason thatmany people didn't have their WW2 medals and why there was such a rush when the 50th/60th anniversaries cam about.
Mr Dragon,

This may be of some help with determining the earliest date possible..

In the book "To War with Whitaker" the wartime memoirs of the Countess of Ranfurly, she describes the "Three Power Conference" at Cairo.

26 November 1943.

...Anyhow, the Prime Minister suddenly demanded to know why some of our men were not wearing the Desert Star Medal. Churchill had taken trouble over this medal: the yellow on it is for sand, the blue for sea, and so on. Few have yet been issued - hence the dilemma. Now all the ribbon in existance has been made up and any desert soldier who sees Churchill will wear it, but will have to return it at the gate on departure for others to wear.
Best Regards,

off topic but my dad was talking about this the other week my grand dad spent time in the Ivory coast as part of the blocking forces against the vicy French before moving up into North Africa itself and he was a bit p1ssed off that they didn't qualify for it. He wasn't a medal hunter just wanted their role acknowledged
With regard to MrDragon's initial query:

I went back to my Army Album to see if I could come up with a definitive answer:
You need to use this link to get you to the album.
Scroll down to Page 4:
I can see that when my Div (The 78th) was posted back to Egypt in August '44 I was sporting the Africa Star only, whereas on PAGE 18 (1946) I can see that I was wearing at least a "set" of four ribbons, namely the 39-45 Star, The Africa Star, The Italy Star and the Defence Medal.

PAGE 85 shows the full set, i.e. including the Victory Medal so I must have been issued with all five before I left the services.

Trust this has been of some help


The last recipient of The Africa Star was Admiral Woodward, the Task Force Commander during the Falklands crisis. :)
no he wasn't

Sir John Forster "Sandy" Woodward GBE KCB (born May 1, 1932) joined the Royal Navy in 1946 at age thirteen, three years after the North Africa campaign ended

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