The Distinguished Service Order was instituted by Queen Victoria on 9 November 1886 following campaigns such as the Crimea and Indian Mutiny as there was, prior to that time, no adequate reward for distinguished service by junior officers, apart from the Victoria Cross. It was established for rewarding individual instances of meritorious or distinguished service in war. This is a purely military order and is only given to officers whose service has been marked by the special mention of his name in despatches and was usually awarded for service under fire or under conditions equivalent to service in actual combat with the enemy. However, from 1914 to 1916 it was awarded under circumstances which could not be regarded as under fire. After January 1, 1917, commanders in the field were instructed to recommend this award only for those serving under fire. Prior to 1943, the order could be given only to someone who had already been Mentioned in Despatches. The order is generally given to officers in command above the rank of Lieutenant-Colonel. Awards to ranks below this are usually for a high degree of gallantry just short of deserving the Victoria Cross.
A bar is awarded for a second act which would have earned the order in the first place. The bar is plain gold with an Imperial Crown in the centre. The year of the award is engraved on the reverse.
This page last updated on December 8, 2002