British Commonwealth Gallantry, Meritorious and Distinguished Service Awards - Companion of the Distinguished Service Order
About this medal
The Distinguished Service Order (DSO) was instituted in 1886 to recognise acts of gallantry by military officers for which a Victoria Cross was not considered appropriate. In 1942 the regulations were amended to allow the award to be made to officers of the Merchant Navy for gallantry in the presence of the enemy. Following a UK review of gallantry awards in 1993, the purpose of the DSO was changed to recognise outstanding leadership at all ranks. At that time the Conspicuous Gallantry Cross replaced the award of the DSO for gallantry. The DSO was awarded to over 300 New Zealanders during both World Wars.
The DSO is no longer awarded in New Zealand since the introduction of New Zealand's own system of Gallantry and Bravery awards in 1999.
Many of these Decorations and Awards are very old and the Royal Warrants which instituted them have been subject to significant amendment during their currency. More information on the Royal Warrant and criteria for the British Gallantry, Meritorious and Distinguished Service Awards can be found in the publications listed in the Bibliography. A publication titled British Gallantry Awards by P.E. Abbott and J.M.E. Tamplin is particularly recommended.
Most Gallantry, Meritorious and Distinguished Service Awards do not have separate Regulations. Instructions for their administration are usually included in the Royal Warrant.
Clasps and Bars
Bars are awarded for subsequent acts of gallantry. For example, during his military career Lieutenant General Sir Bernard Freyberg received the DSO and three bars.
Order of Wear
The position of this award in the Wearing of Medals in New Zealand Table can be viewed here.
The following three books provide detailed information on the award of the DSO to New Zealanders:
- Haigh, J. Bryant and Polaschek, Alan J. New Zealand and the Distinguished Service Order. (1993) (468 pages). Published by Medals Research.
- Creagh, Sir O'Moore (until 1920) and Humphris, E. M. (editors). The V.C. and D.S.O.: A complete record of all those officers, non-commissioned officers and men of His Majesty's naval, military and air forces who have been awarded those decorations / (published in three volumes, ca.1924. Includes New Zealand military personnel. Volume I records the awards of the Victoria Cross; Volumes II and III record the awards of the Distinguished Service Order. Each entry contains biographical information, descriptions of the deeds of valour which earnt the awards, and often a photograph or portrait of the recipient. Reprinted in 1978 by J.B. Hayward in two volumes: the first entitled The Victoria Cross, 1856-1920; the second entitled The Distinguished Service Order, 1886-1923).
- Sutherland, James. The Distinguished Service Order, 1924-2008: with service and biographical details of recipients. (2009) (530 pages). Published by Savannah, London. This book contains information on more than 4,800 Commonwealth recipients, including New Zealanders. Recipients are listed alphabetically by surname.