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Meritorious Service Medal


The MSM was introduced in 1845 to particularly deserving long serving soldiers. Royal Marines became eligible four years later. The medal came with an annuity not exceeding £20. This was due to the number of medals awarded being limited by the available cash in the prize fund. Recipients had to hold the LSM to qualify. These annuity payments ceased in 1981.

In 1916 the medal became available to all serving under Army command (including the navy and marines) for 'immediate award' for general meritorious or gallant service (not in the face of the enemy) without the long service requirement. These immediate awards co-existed alongside the annuity awards. The immediate awards were terminated around 1928 when the Empire Gallantry Medal was introduced.

As the medal's award was restricted by the financial constraints of the annuity fund, there was a waiting list of those who'd been recommended for the MSM and vacancies had to occur before the medals could be conferred. As the size of the army had increased considerably during the Great War quite a backlog of applicants had built up in the subsequent years - with many likely never to actually receive the medal. This was seen as an injustice and the problem was rectified when (following WW2) King George VI decreed that all those put forward for the MSM should receive it - albeit without the annual payout.

Whilst the Army medal continued to be awarded, the Royal Marines variant fell out of use in the early 1950s. Short-lived RAF and Royal Navy versions existed just after the Great War, but these came without any payment and had been phased out by 1928. The medal - for all branches was revived in 1977 and remains to this day. It is awarded very sparingly indeed and is highly respected.

Medals awarded to members of the British & Commonwealth Armies

DCM | MM | MSM | Army LS&GC

Honours, Awards and Decorations
Honours | Gallantry Awards | Campaign Medals | Royal Navy Awards | Army Awards | Royal Air Force Awards | TA Awards | Foreign Awards