|Awarded for||... gallantry during active operations against the enemy.|
|Description||Obverse: Straight armed silver cross, Royal Cypher in centre|
|Presented by||United Kingdom and Commonwealth|
|Eligibility||British, (and formerly) Commonwealth and allied forces|
|Established||28 December 1914|
|First awarded||1 January 1915 to 98 officers and warrant officers.|
|Total||Including further awards:|
George V: c. 43,500
George VI: over 11,500
Elizabeth II: c. 750
|Total recipients||Over 52,000|
Military Cross ribbon:
without bar, and with one and two bars
|Order of Wear|
|Next (higher)||Conspicuous Gallantry Cross|
|Next (lower)||Distinguished Flying Cross|
The Military Cross (MC) is the third-level (second-level pre-1993) military decoration awarded to officers and (since 1993) other ranks of the British Armed Forces, and formerly awarded to officers of other Commonwealth countries.
The MC is granted in recognition of "an act or acts of exemplary gallantry during active operations against the enemy on land" to all members of the British Armed Forces of any rank. In 1979, the Queen approved a proposal that a number of awards, including the Military Cross, could be recommended posthumously.
The award was created on 28 December 1914 for commissioned officers of the substantive rank of captain or below and for warrant officers. The first 98 awards were gazetted on 1 January 1915, to 71 officers, and 27 warrant officers. Although posthumous recommendations for the Military Cross were unavailable until 1979, the first awards included seven posthumous awards, with the word 'deceased' after the name of the recipient, from recommendations that had been raised before the recipients died of wounds or lost their lives from other causes.
Awards are announced in The London Gazette, apart from most honorary awards to allied forces in keeping with the usual practice not to gazette awards to foreigners.
From August 1916, recipients of the Cross were entitled to use the post-nominal letters MC, and bars could be awarded for further acts of gallantry meriting the award, with a silver rosette worn on the ribbon when worn alone to denote the award of each bar.
From September 1916, members of the Royal Naval Division, who served alongside the Army on the Western Front, were made eligible for military decorations, including the Military Cross, for the war's duration. Naval officers serving with the division received 140 MCs and eight second award bars.
In June 1917, eligibility was extended to temporary majors, not above the substantive rank of captain. Substantive majors were made eligible in 1953.
In 1931, the award was extended to equivalent ranks in the Royal Air Force for actions on the ground.
After the Second World War, most Commonwealth countries created their own honours system and no longer recommended British awards. The last Military Cross awards for the Canadian Army were for Korea. The last four Australian Army Military Cross awards were promulgated in The London Gazette on 1 September 1972 for Vietnam as was the last New Zealand Army Military Cross award, which was promulgated on 25 September 1970. Canada, Australia and New Zealand have now created their own gallantry awards under their own honours systems.
Since the 1993 review of the honours system, as part of the drive to remove distinctions of rank in awards for bravery, the Military Medal, formerly the third-level decoration for other ranks, has been discontinued. The MC now serves as the third-level award for all ranks of the British Armed Forces for gallantry on land, not to the standard required to receive the Victoria Cross or the Conspicuous Gallantry Cross.
The Military Cross was designed by Henry Farnham Burke, while its ribbon was created by Victoria Ponsonby, Baroness Sysonby.
In the Medal Yearbook 2015 it is described as follows:
Since 1914, over 52,000 Military Crosses and 3,717 bars have been awarded. The dates below reflect the relevant London Gazette entries:
|Period||Medals||1st bar||2nd bar||3rd bar||Honorary
|World War I||1914–20||37,104||2,984||169||4||2,909||–|
|World War II||1939–46||10,386||482||24||–||438||3|
In addition, approximately 375 MCs have been awarded since 1979, including awards for Northern Ireland, the Falklands, and the wars in the Persian Gulf, Iraq, and Afghanistan.
The above table includes awards to the Dominions:
In all, 3,727 Military Crosses have been awarded to those serving with Canadian forces, including 324 first bars and 18 second bars.
A total of 2,930 were awarded to Australians, in addition to 188 first bars and four second bars. Of these, 2,403 MCs, 170 first Bars and four second Bars were for World War I.
Over 500 MCs were awarded to New Zealanders during World War I and over 250 in World War II. The most recent awards were for service in Vietnam.
The honorary MC awards were made to servicemen from fifteen Allied countries in World War I, and nine in World War II.