Distinguished Service Cross (United Kingdom)

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Distinguished Service Cross
Distinguished Service Cross.jpg
Obverse of medal
UK Distinguished Service Cross BAR.svg
Ribbon: 36mm, equal stripes of dark blue, white and dark blue
Awarded by United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland
TypeMilitary decoration
EligibilityBritish, (formerly) Commonwealth, and allied forces
Awarded forGallantry during active operations against the enemy at sea[1][2]
StatusCurrently awarded
Description43mm max height and width; plain silver cross with rounded ends. (Obverse) Royal Cypher in centre, surrounded by a ring; (reverse) plain.
Established15 June 1901 (as Conspicuous Service Cross), renamed October 1914
Total awardedDuring World War I: 1,983
Since 1945: fewer than 100
Order of Wear
Next (higher)Royal Red Cross, First Class[3]
Next (lower)Military Cross[3]
RelatedDistinguished Service Medal

The Distinguished Service Cross (DSC) is a third level military decoration awarded to officers and (since 1993) other ranks of the British Armed Forces, Royal Fleet Auxiliary and British Merchant Navy, and formerly also to officers of other Commonwealth countries.

The DSC, which may be granted posthumously, is "...awarded in recognition of an act or acts of exemplary gallantry during active operations against the enemy at sea."[1]


The award was originally created in 1901 as the Conspicuous Service Cross, for award to warrant and junior officers ineligible for the DSO. It was renamed the Distinguished Service Cross in October 1914, eligibility being extended to all naval officers (commissioned and warrant) below the rank of lieutenant commander. In 1931, the award was made available to members of the Merchant Navy and in 1940 eligibility was further extended to non-naval personnel (British Army and Royal Air Force) serving aboard a British vessel. Since the 1993 review of the honours system, as part of the drive to remove distinctions of rank in awards for bravery, the Distinguished Service Medal, formerly the third level decoration for ratings, has been discontinued. The DSC now serves as the third level award for gallantry at sea for all ranks.

Since 1916, bars to the DSC have been awarded in recognition of the performance of further acts of gallantry meriting the award. Recipients are entitled to the post-nominal "DSC".


  • This DSC is a plain silver cross with rounded edges. The obverse has a circular centre within which can be seen the Royal Cypher of the reigning monarch at the time of award. From 1940 year of issue has been engraved on lower limb of cross.
  • The reverse is plain apart from the hallmark and the ribbon is attached via a hall-marked silver ring.
  • The ribbon has three equal stripes of dark blue, white and dark blue.
Ribbon bars of the Distinguished Service Cross
UK Distinguished Service Cross BAR.svg
UK DSC w bar BAR.svg
DSC and Bar
UK DSC w 2bars BAR.svg
DSC and Two Bars

Four-time recipient[edit]

Only one person has ever been awarded the Distinguished Service Cross four times. Norman Eyre Morley served in the Royal Naval Reserve during World War I and World War II. He was awarded the DSC for the first time in 1919. He was awarded his second DSC in 1944. He was awarded the DSC a further two times in 1945. He gained an entry into the Guinness Book of Records as the most decorated reserve officer.[4][5]

List of three time recipients[edit]

Collective Award[edit]

The Distinguished Service Cross was awarded to Dunkirk for gallantry in World War I and it appears in the coat of arms of the city.[7]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "No. 56693". The London Gazette (Supplement). 17 October 2002. p. 11146.
  2. ^ Defence FactSheet Archived 27 September 2007 at the Wayback Machine. Accessed 28 June 2007.
  3. ^ a b "JSP 761 Honours and Awards in the Armed Forces" (PDF). p. 12A-1. Retrieved 7 November 2014.
  4. ^ "No. 37127". The London Gazette (Supplement). 8 June 1945. p. 3088.
  5. ^ "Lot 350: An Important Collection of Royal Navy Items Relating To Commander Norman Morley DSC". Bonhams. 2007. Retrieved 24 April 2015.
  6. ^ "No. 39854". The London Gazette (Supplement). 15 May 1953. p. 2765.
  7. ^ "Traces of War". TracesOfWar. Retrieved 2 Aug 2018.


  • Mackay, J. and Mussel, J. (eds). Medals Yearbook – 2005, 2004, Token Publishing.