A medal bar or medal clasp is a thin metal bar attached to the ribbon of a
When used in conjunction with decorations for exceptional service, such as gallantry medals, the term "and bar" means that the award has been bestowed multiple times. In the example, "Group Captain
Bars are also used on long service medals to indicate the length of service rendered.
The two terms are used because terms "bar" and "clasp" both refer to two parts of the medal; the indicator discussed in this article, and the part of the medal connected to the ribbon.
Prior to the early 19th century, medals and decorations were only awarded to
Over the next 40 years, it became customary for governments to present a medal to all soldiers and officers involved in a campaign. These medals were often engraved with the names of the major battles the recipient had fought in during the campaign. The main disadvantages of this system were that new medals had to be created for each campaign or war, and that it was impossible to tell at a glance if the recipient was only a participant in the campaign overall, or if he had been involved in one or several major actions. (The first gallantry medal to be awarded to ordinary British soldiers was the
The creation of bars led to the development of 'General Service' medals, which would be presented to any soldier serving in a general region or time frame. Bars would be awarded to denote the particular campaign or war the recipient fought in. The 1854