|British Empire Medal|
Military division medal
|Awarded by Elizabeth II|
|Type||Medal affiliated with an order|
|Awarded for||Meritorious service|
|Motto||For God and the Empire|
|Last awarded||16 June 2012|
|Next (higher)||Royal Victorian Medal|
|Next (lower)||Queen's Police Medal|
|Related||Order of the British Empire|
Ribbon for the Civil BEM
Ribbon for the Military BEM
The British Empire Medal (BEM) is a British medal awarded for meritorious civil or military service worthy of recognition by the Crown. It was established in 1922 to replace the Medal of the Order of the British Empire. Recipients are entitled to use the post-nominal letters "BEM" and it is divided into civil and military medals in a similar way to the Order of the British Empire itself. While recipients are not technically counted as members of the Order, these medals are nevertheless affiliated with it. The BEM was awarded to subjects of the United Kingdom until 1993, after which time it lay in abeyance in the United Kingdom, although was still awarded in some Commonwealth realms. It was brought out of abeyance in June 2012, for the Queen's Diamond Jubilee.
Medal of the Order of the British Empire
The Medal of the Order of the British Empire was first established in 1917 together with the Order of the British Empire itself. It was awarded to 2,015 people, 800 of whom were from foreign countries.
In 1922 the original medal was split into two new honours. While the Medal of the Order of the British Empire for Gallantry (usually known as the Empire Gallantry Medal) was awarded for acts of bravery until it was replaced by the George Cross in 1940, the Medal of the Order of the British Empire for Meritorious Service (usually known as the British Empire Medal) was awarded in similar circumstances as the lower classes of the Order of the British Empire, but usually to people below management or professional level. In the uniformed services, it was awarded to non-commissioned officers of the armed forces, officers below superintendent rank in the police, and personnel below divisional officer level in the fire services.
British Empire Medal
From 1940, the British Empire Medal for Meritorious Service could again be awarded for gallantry, but now for acts of bravery (not in the face of the enemy) which were below the level required for the George Medal and to the same classes of people awarded the BEM for other services (with more senior recipients receiving the Order of the British Empire). From 14 January 1958 these awards were instead designated as the British Empire Medal for Gallantry and consisted of the Medal of the Order of the British Empire for Meritorious Service with a silver oak leaf emblem worn on the ribbon. It could not be awarded posthumously and was eventually replaced in 1974 with the Queen's Gallantry Medal.
The BEM was awarded to subjects of the United Kingdom until 1992. Those awarded the honour did not receive it from the monarch but from the Lord Lieutenant of their county or a local authority. Then prime minister, Sir John Major decided that the distinction between the BEM and MBE had "become increasingly tenuous" and he wanted more local people to receive their awards from the Queen herself. The medal continued to be awarded in the Commonwealth realms, such as the Bahamas and Cook Islands.
Following the 2011 Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting, Prime Minister David Cameron announced that the medal would once again be issued in the United Kingdom, beginning in 2012, to coincide with the Queen's Diamond Jubilee. On 16 June 2012 the honour was awarded to 293 people.
- "ORDERS OF WEAR". http://www.direct.gov.uk. Retrieved 16 June 2012.
- Second Report on Operation of the Reformed Honours System, The Cabinet Office, 12 December 2011, pp.3-4
- The London Gazette: . 14 January 1958.
- British Empire Medal to return says David Cameron, BBC News, 28 October 2011
- See the 2008 New Year (The London Gazette: . 28 December 2007. Retrieved 2008-10-14.) and Queen's Birthday Honours (The London Gazette: . 14 June 2008. Retrieved 2007-10-31.)
- "Birthday Honours: 'Working class' British Empire Medal revived". BBC News. Retrieved 20 June 2012.
- Search recommendations for the British Empire Medal on The UK National Archives' website.
- British Empire Medal on the Veterans Affairs Canada site