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British Commonwealth Gallantry, Meritorious and Distinguished Service Awards - The Distinguished Service Cross

Obverse View

The Distinguished Service Cross obverse view

About this award

Instituted in 1901 as the Conspicuous Service Cross, this award was renamed the Distinguished Service Cross (DSC) in 1914. It was awarded to junior naval officers and senior naval ratings for courage and devotion to duty on active service. Eligibility was later extended to officers of the Merchant Navy and to Army and Air Force officers serving in HM Ships. Many New Zealand naval officers were awarded the DSC for their actions during the Second World War. Since 1993 the DSC has been made available to all ranks in the United Kingdom.

In 1999 the DSC was replaced in New Zealand by the New Zealand Gallantry Decoration.

Royal Warrant

Many British awards have a considerable history and the Royal Warrants which instituted them have been subject to significant amendment during their currency. More information on the Royal Warrants 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 courageous acts. Lieutenant Commander George MacDonald, New Zealand's most decorated naval officer, was awarded the DSC and two bars in the Second World War.

Order of Wear

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