|Distinguished Service Cross|
| Obverse of the Cross|
|Awarded for||Gallantry during active operations against the enemy at sea|
|Description||Plain silver cross with rounded ends, 43 mm max height and width|
|Presented by||United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland|
|Eligibility||British, (formerly) Commonwealth, and allied forces|
|Established||15 June 1901 (as Conspicuous Service Cross), renamed October 1914|
|Total||At least 6,658 Crosses and 603 bars|
Distinguished Service Cross ribbon:
without bar, and with one and two bars
|Order of Wear|
|Next (higher)||Royal Red Cross, First Class|
|Next (lower)||Military Cross|
|Related||Distinguished Service Medal|
The Distinguished Service Cross (DSC) is a third-level military decoration awarded to officers; and, since 1993, ratings and other ranks of the British Armed Forces, Royal Fleet Auxiliary and the British Merchant Navy have been included. Additionally, the award was formerly awarded to members of other Commonwealth countries.
The DSC is "awarded in recognition of an act or acts of exemplary gallantry during active operations against the enemy at sea." Since 1979, it can be awarded posthumously.
The award was originally created in 1901 as the Conspicuous Service Cross, for award to warrant and subordinate officers, including midshipmen, ineligible for the Distinguished Service Order. It was renamed the Distinguished Service Cross in October 1914, eligibility being extended to all naval officers (commissioned and warrant) below the rank of lieutenant commander.
From March 1915, foreign officers of equivalent rank in allied navies could receive honorary awards; in August 1916, bars were introduced to reward further acts of gallantry meriting the Cross, with a silver rosette worn on the ribbon when worn alone, to denote the award of each bar. During World War I, officers of the Merchant and Fishing Fleets had been awarded the DSC, and their eligibility was legally clarified by an order in council in 1931.
World War II saw a number of changes. In December 1939, eligibility was extended to Naval Officers of the rank of Commander and Lieutenant-Commander. In April 1940, equivalent ranks in the Royal Air Force serving with the Fleet could receive the DSC, and, from November 1942, so could those in the Army aboard defensively equipped merchant ships.
Since the 1993 review of the honours system, as part of the drive to remove distinctions of rank in awards for bravery, the Distinguished Service Medal, formerly the third-level decoration for ratings, has been discontinued. The DSC now serves as the third-level award for gallantry at sea for all ranks, not to the standard required to receive the Victoria Cross or the Conspicuous Gallantry Cross.
The DSC had also been awarded by Commonwealth countries; however, by the 1990s, most of these—including Canada, Australia, and New Zealand—were establishing their own honours systems and no longer recommended British honours.
Recipients are entitled to the post-nominal "DSC".
The DSC is a plain silver cross with rounded ends, with a width of 43 millimetres (1.7 in) and with the following design:
Since 1901 at least 6,658 Crosses and 603 bars have been awarded. The dates below reflect the relevant London Gazette entries:
|Period||Crosses||1st bar||2nd bar||3rd bar|
|World War I||1914–1920||1,983||91||10||–|
|World War II||1939–1946||4,524||434||44||1|
A number of honorary awards were made to members of allied foreign forces, including 151 for World War I, and 228 (with 12 first bars and 2 second bars) for World War II. Eight honorary awards were made in 1955 to members of the US Navy for service in Korea.
The above table includes awards to the Dominions:
In all, 199 DSCs have gone to those serving with Canadian forces, with 34 first bars and five second bars. It was replaced in 1993 by the Medal of Military Valour.
182 were awarded to Australians, in addition to 13 first bars and three second bars. Last awarded to an Australian in 1972, it was replaced in 1991 by the Medal for Gallantry.
Only one person has ever been awarded the Distinguished Service Cross four times. Norman Eyre Morley served in the Royal Naval Reserve during World War I and World War II. He was awarded the DSC for the first time in 1919. He was awarded his second DSC in 1944. He was awarded the DSC a further two times in 1945. He gained an entry into the Guinness Book of Records as the most decorated reserve naval officer.
In 1919, the Distinguished Service Cross was awarded to the City of Dunkirk for the gallant behaviour of its citizens during World War I, and the Cross appears in the coat of arms of the city.