Service Medal of the Order of St John

The Service Medal of the Order of St John is awarded to recognise both conspicuous and long service with the Order of St John, particularly in the St John Ambulance,[2] both in the United Kingdom and in a number of other Commonwealth countries. The award was announced in the St John Ambulance Brigade General Regulations for 1895 and minted in 1899, though the first honourees had been selected the previous year.[3][4]

Service Medal of the Order of St John
Service Medal of the Order of St John.jpgService Medal of the Order of St John, reverse.jpg
Medal: obverse and reverse
Awarded by Most Venerable Order of the Hospital of St John of Jerusalem
TypeMedal for conspicuous and long service
EligibilityThose affiliated with the Order of St John and its subsidiary institutions
Awarded forContinuous service
StatusCurrently awarded
First awarded1899
Next (higher)Depends on country
Next (lower)Depends on country
Service Medal of the Order of St John Ribbon.jpg
Service Medal of the Order of St John, bar.jpg
Bar for additional service, design since 1924[1]


The cupro-nickel, rhodium-plated medal features on its obverse the head of Queen Victoria and the legend VICTORIA + D + G + BRITT + REG + F + D + IND + IMP (Victoria, by the Grace of God, Queen of Britain, Defender of the Faith, and Empress of India). The reverse displays the legend MAGNUS · PRIORATUS · ORDINIS · HOSPITALIS · SANCTI · JOHANNIS · JERUSALEM · IN · ANGLIA (Grand Priory of the Order of the Hospital of St. John of Jerusalem in England) along with five equally sized circles in a cross holding individual heraldic icons supported by sprawling St John's Wort.[4] These are (a) the Imperial Crown (b) the Royal Arms (c) the Arms of the Prince of Wales who was the first Grand Prior under the Royal Charter of 1888 (d) the Crest of that Prince of Wales, and (e) the then Arms of the Order. With effect from 1 January 2020, and following depletion of manufacturer's stock, medals will be issued with the inscription "THE MOST VENERABLE ORDER OF THE HOSPITAL OF ST JOHN OF JERUSALEM", and "FOR SERVICE" at the bottom. In Canada the legend will be in Latin, "VENERABILISSIMI ORDINIS HOSPITALIS SANCTI JOHANNIS HIEROSOLYMITANI".

On 1 January 2020 an Ultra Long Service (ULS) extension to the St John Service Medal will be introduced. It is of the same design as the updated Service Medal using base metal with a gold or similar plate finish. The requisite period of years for qualifying will be standardised worldwide to ten years for the Service Medal and fifty years for the ULS extension.

It is the only British medal to retain the effigy of Queen Victoria on a current issue, the image based on a bust of the queen created by Princess Louise, Duchess of Argyll.[4] The medal's design has been largely unaltered since its creation, though the script changed from gothic to seriffed capital letters in 1960, and the metal composition has evolved from its original silver, to silver plated base metal (1947), silver plated cupro-nickel (1960), before reaching its current rhodium-plated cupro-nickel composition in 1966.[1] The medal had a ring suspension until 1913, when a straight bar suspension was introduced.[1] The original practice of naming the recipient on the rim of the medal gradually ceased,[4] except in New Zealand.

The medal is suspended from a 38mm wide ribbon that has three black and two white stripes of equal width. On the ULS extension ribbon the central black stripe is dissected by a 3mm gold stripe. Where additional services beyond those required for the award have been performed, the ribbon may display a silver bar for each five years of additional service up to three silver bars. After twenty years of additional service all silver bars are removed and a gold bar is awarded. Thereafter each further five years of additional service a gold bar is awarded up to the 4 gold bars that will mark thirty five years of additional service. After fifty years of service (forty additional years) the Service Medal is removed and replaced by the Ultra Long Service extension. Gold bars are awarded thereafter for each five additional years. All bars are represented on the undress ribbon by one or more appropriately coloured Maltese crosses.[1][5]

From 1932 until after the Second World War, a top suspender broach bar was issued to recipients who served with either the Military Hospitals Reserve or the Voluntary Aid Detachments. The bar is silver and bears the letters 'M.H.R.' or 'V.A.D.', as appropriate, surmounted by crown.[4] When the ribbon was worn alone, a roundel with the appropriate initials was worn on the ribbon.[1]


The medal is typically rewarded to recognise efficient service to an eligible person who performs qualifying service in each year, which is properly recorded and certified, for the requisite period of years.

In the United Kingdom, the Service Medal comes after the Solomon Islands Independence Medal and before the Badge of the Order of the League of Mercy in the order precedence.[6] In Canada, the medal comes after the Queen's Medal for Champion Shot and before the Commissionaires Long Service Medal.[7]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b c d e John W. Mussell, editor. Medal Yearbook 2015. p. 254. Published Token Publishing Limited, Honiton, Devon. 2015.
  2. ^ H. Taprell Dorling. Ribbons and Medals. p. 128. Published A.H.Baldwin & Sons, London. 1956.
  3. ^ Regulations of the Order of St John Archived 2013-12-15 at the Wayback Machine
  4. ^ a b c d e The Service Medal of the Order of St John
  5. ^ St. John Ambulance Canada's Honours and Awards Pages
  6. ^ "No. 62529". The London Gazette (Supplement). 11 January 2019. p. 327.
  7. ^ Canadian Orders, Decorations and Medals - Precedence Archived 2006-10-09 at