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Order of wear - South African, UK and US Medals

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Hi everyone

I recently started collecting military medals and intend to put them on display in the correct order of wear. The problem is that the medals originate from three different countries so I'm listing those I have and those i'm busy buying.

1. Victoria Cross (UK)

2. George Cross (UK)

3. Honoris Crux (S.A.)

4. Pro Partia Medal (S.A.)

5. Military Cross (UK)

6. Legion of Merit (US)

7. Purple Heart (US)

8. Distinguished Service Cross (US)

According to my research in the South African Order of Wear the Victoria Cross outranks the Honoris Crux but in which order do I place the other medals?


Kind regards,

Wessel Gordon


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Welcome to the GMIC!  I think the answer to your question must lie in the dress regulations of whichever country the putative wearer of the medals is from/representing.  In other words, if all these were awarded to a South African, according to the SA regs.  If to a Brit, I strongly suspect the order would be British, SA, US.  If to an American... US first and ??? after thagt.

The old British Indian Army is a life long hobby of mine I remember, decAdes ago now, my shock on seeing a member of our Corps Of Commissionaire's - a security force at airports and government buildings recruited from ex-servicemen - who was wearing three or four WWII medals after his post-Independence Indian Army awards.  He'd obviously stayed in the IA into the '50s and so the order was correct, in that technically the WWII stars were 'foreign awards' after 1947.

If, on the other hand, these medals simply represent a series of senior awards from various nations, my personal tendency would be to group them by nation in order of the seniority / importance within each nation, but that's an entirely personal choice.

I hope others will chime in, as I suspect they will!  Again, welcome to the GMIC.


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Thanks for the welcome and reply.


I'm from South Africa so if I happened to be a veteran I would adhere to South African dress regulations. At the moment I am leaning towards the order of first South African order of wear, then British, then American followed by whatever nation's medals I accrue in future. 

Due to a birth defect I never served in a military capacity but browsing medal and military sites is at the moment an all-consuming hobby.



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I just added an MBE to my collection so my collection is slowly coming together.

If other members have any idea of other medals might interest me please let me know...It the moment I'm trying to focus on bravery/gallantry medals but that might change on a nano-second's notice, 


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  • 2 weeks later...

A nice variety of decorations you have there, Wessel.

I would also treat them as four separate groups.  Were they all to have been awarded to one person, then he would follow his country's order of precedence which, in SA is :

- SA awards (post-1952)

- UK awards (including VC) and pre-1952 SA awards

- other countries' awards, in order of date earned.

In SA, the VC has been ranked as a foreign award since 1967 (if not 1961) and it no longer outranks the Honoris Crux.

The current rankings in each country are :

SA : HC -- Pro Patria.

UK : VC -- GC -- MBE -- MC.

USA : DSC -- LoM -- PH.



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Arthur R,

Thanks for the reply.

At the moment I buy medals that catches my eye rather than aiming for something specific (a case of madness in the method and not method in the madness). Perhaps later I might either branch out or zoom in on something specific,


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  • 3 weeks later...

Wessel, as some of the other posts indicate I would personally group the medals in the order by country. I would also suggest, some literature. If you do not have it, to purchase a book called "South African Orders, Decorations and Medals" by Alexander, Barron and Bateman. It is long out of print but copies do come up from time to time on Bid or Buy. Also a Medal Yearbook is good reference and some of the later editions cover off on British and commonwealth awards incl South Africa.

Order of precedence can be tricky because they do change from time to time, especially South Africa, but that is part of the fun.

On 28 March 2019 at 03:40, Arthur R said:


In SA, the VC has been ranked as a foreign award since 1967 (if not 1961) and it no longer outranks the Honoris Crux.



Arthur is correct that the VC was classified as a foreign award post 1967 Republic being gained. Just to illustrate how there can be differences it was my understanding that the only foreign decoration to receive precedence over all South African awards was the VC. Of course the could have changed over the years, even as recently as 1994.

The unique example is the group to Capt Quentin Smythe, VC. He served through WW II and on into the 1980's. His group of nine mounted as worn was VC, SADF Long Service(silver & bronze), Coronation 1953, 39-45 Star, Africa Star, War Medal 39-45, Africa Service Medal, Jubilee medal 1977.


Edited by gavinmedals
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  • 1 month later...

It's been awhile since I've posted and in the mean time I bought a series of 7 miniatures so here is a complete list of my medals:

Full Size:

1. George Cross (UK)

2. National Defense Service Medal (US)

3, Pro Partia Medal (South Africa)

4. Pour le Merit (Prussia/Germany) also known as the Blue Max


1. Victoria Cross (UK)

2. Military Cross (UK) 

3. MBE (UK)

4. Honoris Crux 1975 (South Africa)

5. Military Merit Medal (South Africa)

6. Pro Partia Medal (South Africa)

7. Southern Africa Medal (South Africa)

8. General Service Medal (South Africa)

9. Unitas Medal (South Africa)

10. John Chard Medal (South Africa)

11. de Wet Medal (South Africa)


I also had to replace an order for the following due to a parcel that got lost in the postal black hole (oops, I mean system)

US Legion of Merit Medal

US Purple Heart

UK Distinguished Service Cross


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