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Royal Observer Corps Medal
Obverse and Reverse of the Royal Observer Corps Medal
Ribbon of the Royal Observer Corps Medal
Obverse (left), Reverse (right) and ribbon bar (bottom) of the Royal Observer Corps Medal
Awarded by United Kingdom
Type Civil Defence
Eligibility Royal Observer Corps personnel
Awarded for Long Service
Established 1950
United Kingdom
Order of Wear
Next (higher) Canadian Forces Decoration[1]
Next (lower) Civil Defence Medal Long Service Medal[1]

The Royal Observer Corps Medal is a long service medal awarded in the United Kingdom to members of the Royal Observer Corps (ROC) relating to service between 1941 and December 1995, when the ROC was stood down. The medal was initiated in 1950 by HM King George Vl.[2]

Service prior to 1941[]

Prior to World War II, Observer Corps personnel were classed as Special Constables, retained by local constabularies, and qualified for the award of the Special Constable Long Service Medal following a period of twelve years continuous service. However, this qualification and award ceased in 1941 when RAF Fighter Command assumed sole responsibility for the ROC.

The new medal[]

In 1950 HM the King, as Air Commodore in Chief of the ROC, granted permission for the award of the Royal Observer Corps Medal in recognition of long service. For part-time personnel, the medal was awarded to those having completed twelve years of continuous service. Each subsequent service period of twelve years was recognised by the award of a clasp depicting a winged crown . (On ribbon bars, a silver rosette was worn to represent the clasp). Full-time service on the part of ROC Officers counted for half the qualification period for part-time personnel; therefore requiring twenty four years service to qualify for a medal or clasp, but with any previous part-time service counting in full.


ROC stable belt incorporating the colours of the ROC medal ribbon


The medal ribbon was a mix of pale blue, dark blue and silver vertical stripes; representing the pale blue of the daytime sky, with a searchlight beam in a night sky at its centre. The colours of the ribbon were to be repeated in the ROC stable belt, with the addition of two outer stripes of dark blue. (The medal ribbon's colour sequence is reversed in the ROC regimental tie).


The medal was die struck in cupronickel metal featuring the laureated head of Elizabeth II. Post-1953 medals featured the legend +ELIZABETH II DEI GRA:BRITT:OMN:REGINA F:D:, (later editions bore +ELIZABETH·II·DEI·GRATIA·REGINA·F:D:), on the obverse. The reverse featured the coast-watcher figure from the ROC badge, (depicted against a backdrop of coastal warning beacons), with the motto FOREWARNED IS FOREARMED on a scroll beneath the figure, together with the words ROYAL OBSERVER CORPS MEDAL around the circumference. The recipient's rank, initials and surname were stamped into the medal's edge, for example LEADING OBSERVER E.M. BLASCRAIG. Although the medal was authorised in 1950 non were struck with the effigy of King george VI.

The medal was suspended under an articulated brooch depicting the RAF eagle.


Miniature ROC medals were licenced and worn at formal Black Tie events where the invitation indicates such are permitted.

Unusual awards[]

In July 1961 the Commandant ROC Air Commodore Wight-Boycott presented a Royal Observer Corps Medal to the Battle of Britain Class locomotive no.34050 Royal Observer Corps, which had commenced service with the Southern Railway company in December 1946; the ceremony taking place at Waterloo Station.[3] The medal was mounted in a glass fronted cabinet in the driver's cab and the locomotive's side was repainted with a representation of the medal and its ribbon. These were displayed until the engine was retired from service and scrapped in the late 1960s. However, the original nameplate and front badge were recovered and displayed in the entrance hall of RAF Bentley Priory, (HQ ROC), until 1996 when they were transferred to the RAF Museum, Hendon.

The only occasion where an ROC Medal was awarded to a former member of the ROC was when UKWMO Sector Controller Kenneth Rodley was awarded the ROC Medal after twenty four years full-time service. Rodley commenced his ROC service as Group Training Officer with 20 Group (York) in February 1958 and was later seconded to the Home Office, in 1971. It had been realised that, due to an administrative error, Rodley's secondment had never officially converted to that of a full Civil Service transfer, and that he had therefore technically remained a member of the ROC. The Medal was awarded to him by Air Commodore George Black at a surprise ceremony in 1984 at RAF Scampton. Rodley attempted to make an acceptance speech but was overcome by emotion and took his seat to a standing ovation by those present.


The ROC was stood down in December 1995 and as such there are no ROC personnel in service. However, should the ROC ever be reactivated the ROC medal remains extant and awards could recommence at that time.

ROC Medals are much sought after by collectors of militaria, and examples reaching several hundred pounds have been recorded at auction. ROC medals bearing the head of George VI were struck but not issued.


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