Three Services as one force, being the best in everything we do  

British Commonwealth War and Campaign Medals Awarded to New Zealanders - The 1939 - 1945 Star

Obverse View

The 1939 - 1945 Star obverse view

About the 1939-1945 Star

The 1939-1945 Star is the first in a series of eight campaign stars instituted in 1945 to recognise service in the Second World War.

This bronze six-pointed star has a circular centre with the GRI/VI monogram, surmounted by the Royal crown, and inscribed 'The 1939-1945 Star'. The star has a height of 44mm and maximum width of 38mm.

Land service

It was usually awarded for six months (180 days) service in specified operational areas (see the Eligibility Rules for the 1939-1945 Star). Those whose service was shortened by death, injury or capture or who were awarded a decoration or mention in despatches also qualified for the Star.

Service of one day or more in specified battles or invasions qualified for the special award of the 1939-1945 Star. For example, in Greece and Crete between 10 March 1941 and 31 May 1941, or in Guadalcanal (Allied invasion) between 7 August 1942 and 9 February 1943. The full list of the 'qualifying special areas (one day)' are in paragraph 15 of the Eligibility Rules for the 1939-1945 Star.

Sea service

For service at sea by Navy and Merchant Navy personnel 180 days ‘service afloat in areas of active operations (dangerous waters)’ between 3 September 1939 and 2 September 1945 was required. From 10 June 1940 to 8 May 1945 ‘dangerous waters’ are defined as ‘anywhere at sea’. The full list of the 'qualifying sea areas' are in paragraph 19 of the Eligibility Rules for the 1939-1945 Star. Army and Air Force personnel who were posted for duty to His Majesty' warships and other commissioned ships also qualified under the same criteria.

Air service

Aircrew who had 'taken part in operations against the enemy' and completed two months (60 days) in 'an operational unit' also qualified for the 1939-1945 Star.

Issued unengraved by New Zealand

The 1939-1945 Star was issued unengraved to New Zealand service persons, as were other Second World War campaign medals awarded for service for New Zealand. The same no engraving policy was applied by other British Commonwealth countries, except for Australia and South Africa.

About the ribbon

The ribbon has three equal vertical stripes of dark blue, red and light blue. The dark blue stripe symbolises the service of the Navy and the Merchant Navy, the red stripe symbolises the service of the Army, and the light blue stripe symbolises the service of the Air Force.

Medal Eligibility Rules

The Eligibility Rules for the 1939-1945 Star can be viewed here.

Clasps and Bars

One clasp, ‘Battle of Britain', was awarded for aircrew who saw service during the Battle of Britain in 1940.  When ribbons only were worn on military uniform, a gilt rose emblem on the ribbon denoted the award of this clasp.

The Battle of Britain Clasp - which is worn on the 1939-1945 Star

A second clasp, the 'Bomber Command' clasp was instituted by the United Kingdom on 26 February 2013. Information on the 'Bomber Command' clasp can found on the Breaking News page of our website and on the United Kingdom Ministry of Defence website - see

The Bomber Command Clasp (with the ribbon for the 1939-45 Star) in a presentation box

Order of Wear

The position of this medal in the Wearing of Medals in New Zealand Table can be viewed here.


2 June 2013 - Defence Minister welcomes Bomber Command, Arctic Star awards

30 May 2013 - Applications open for the Arctic Star and the Bomber Command Clasp