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
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
ClaspsVaries by Priory
First awarded1899
Next (higher)Depends on country
Next (lower)Depends on country


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 the St Edward’s Crown, the shield of the Royal Arms, two icons of the Order of St John in England, and the cypher bearing the feathers of the Prince of Wales.

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 ribbon that is 1.5 inches (38 millimetres) wide with five equally spaced stripes of black and white. Where additional services beyond those required for the award have been performed, the ribbon may display bars and laurel leaves.[3] In most countries (Including New Zealand and Canada) a recipient is awarded a silver bar for every five years up to three silver bars, beyond which all silver bars are removed and a gilt bar is put on the medal (32 years) and subsequently for each five years. At fifty two years, the recipient is awarded a laurel leaf and all bars are removed. All bars are represented on the undress ribbon by one or more appropriately coloured Maltese crosses, while the laurel leaf is also used on the undress ribbon.[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 of appropriate duration in the St John Ambulance.[4] The length varies by location, with current terms for the United Kingdom, Canada, New Zealand and South Africa set for 12 years, while other territories require 10 years.[4] Until 1990 the qualifying period in the United Kingdom was 15 years.[6] Other forms of conspicuous service to the Order of St John have also been recognised with the medal.[2]

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.[7] In Canada, the medal comes after the Queen's Medal for Champion Shot and before the Commissionaires Long Service Medal.[8]

In 2010, the Order of St John England and the Islands decided that time spent as a Cadet, (previously one year for every two years proficient as a cadet[3]), would not count towards the Service Medal.

See also


  1. John W. Mussell, editor. Medal Yearbook 2015. p. 254. Published Token Publishing Limited, Honiton, Devon. 2015.CS1 maint: extra text: authors list (link)
  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. The Service Medal of the Order of St John
  5. St. John Ambulance Canada's Honours and Awards Pages
  6. Museum of the Order of St John: Service Medal of the Order of St John, awarded to Edwin Ralphs
  7. "No. 62529". The London Gazette (Supplement). 11 January 2019. p. 327.
  8. Canadian Orders, Decorations and Medals - Precedence Archived 2006-10-09 at
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