Distinguished Flying Cross (United Kingdom)

The Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC) is the third-level military decoration awarded to officers, and since 1993 to other ranks, of the United Kingdom's Royal Air Force and other services, and formerly to officers of other Commonwealth countries, for "an act or acts of valour, courage or devotion to duty whilst flying in active operations against the enemy".[3]

Distinguished Flying Cross
Obverse of the decoration.
Awarded by United Kingdom and Commonwealth
TypeMilitary decoration
EligibilityBritish, Commonwealth, and allied forces
Awarded for... exemplary gallantry during active operations against the enemy in the air.[1]
StatusCurrently awarded
Established3 June 1918
Total awardedTo 2017: 22,322 crosses; 1,737 bars
Order of Wear
Next (higher)Military Cross[2]
Next (lower)Air Force Cross[2]
RelatedDistinguished Flying Medal

Ribbon: diagonal alternate white and purple stripes
Bar to the Air Force Cross
Ribbon bar for a 2nd award


The award was established on 3 June 1918, shortly after the formation of the Royal Air Force (RAF), with the Royal Warrant published on 5 December 1919.[3] It was originally awarded to RAF commissioned and warrant officers, including officers in Commonwealth and allied forces. In March 1941 eligibility was extended to Naval Officers of the Fleet Air Arm, and in November 1942 to Army officers,[4] including Royal Artillery officers serving on attachment to the RAF as pilots-cum-artillery observers. Posthumous awards were permitted from 1979.[5]

Since the 1993 review of the honours system as part of the drive to remove distinctions of rank in bravery awards, all ranks of all arms of the Armed Forces have been eligible, and the Distinguished Flying Medal, which had until then been awarded to other ranks, was discontinued.[6] While remaining a reward for "flying in active operations against the enemy", the requirement was changed from "valour, courage or devotion to duty"[3] to "exemplary gallantry".[7]

The DFC had also been awarded by Commonwealth countries but by 1990's most, including Canada, Australia and New Zealand, had established their own honours systems and no longer recommended British honours.[8]

The DFC now serves as the third-level award for all ranks of the British Armed Forces for exemplary gallantry in active operations against the enemy in the air, not to the standard required to receive the Victoria Cross or the Conspicuous Gallantry Cross.[2] Apart from honorary awards to those serving with allied forces, all awards of the DFC are announced in the London Gazette.[4]

A bar is added to the ribbon for holders of the DFC who received a further award, with a silver rosette worn on the ribbon when worn alone to denote the award of each bar.[9]

Recipients are entitled to use the post-nominal letters "DFC".[9]


The decoration, designed by Edward Carter Preston,[10] is a cross flory, 2.125 inches (54.0 mm) wide. The horizontal and bottom bars are terminated with bumps, the upper bar with a rose. The decoration's face features aeroplane propellers, superimposed on the vertical arms of the cross, and wings on the horizontal arms. In the centre is a laurel wreath around the RAF monogram, surmounted by a heraldic Imperial Crown.[4]

The reverse is plain, except for a central roundel bearing the reigning monarch's cypher and the date '1918'. Originally awarded unnamed, from 1939 the year of issue was engraved on the reverse lower limb of cross,[4] and since 1984 it has been awarded named to the recipient.[11]

The suspender is straight and decorated with laurel wreaths.

The ribbon bar denoting a further award is silver, with the Royal Air Force eagle in its centre. Bars awarded during World War II have the year of award engraved on the reverse.[4]

The 1.25 inch (32 mm) ribbon was originally white with deep purple broad horizontal stripes, but it was changed in 1919 to the current white with purple broad diagonal stripes.[4]

Distinguished Flying Cross ribbon bars
DFC DFC and Bar DFC and Two Bars
UK DFC 1918 w bar BAR
UK DFC 1918 w 2bars BAR
since 1919
United Kingdom Distinguished Flying Cross ribbon
UK DFC w bar BAR
UK DFC w 2bars BAR


Numbers awarded

From 1918 to 2017 approximately 22,322 Distinguished Flying Crosses and 1,737 bars have been awarded. The figures to 1979 are laid out in the table below,[12] the dates reflecting the relevant entries in the London Gazette:

Period Crosses 1st bar 2nd bar
World War I 1918–19 1,045 62 3
Inter–War 1919–39 165 26 4
World War II 1939–45 20,354 1,550 42
Post–War 1946–79 678 42 5
Total 1918–79 22,242 1,680 54

In addition, between 1980 and 2017 approximately 80 DFCs have been earned, including awards for the Falklands and the wars in the Gulf, Iraq and Afghanistan.[13] In addition, two second-award,[14] and one third-award bar[15] have been awarded.

The above figures include awards to the Dominions:
In all, 4,460 DFCs have gone to Canadians, including 256 first bars and six second bars. Of these, 193 crosses and nine first bars were for service with the RAF in World War I. For World War II, 4,018 DFCs with 213 first bars and six second bars were earned by members of the Royal Canadian Air Force, with a further 247 crosses and 34 first bars to Canadians serving with the RAF.[16]
From 1918 to 1972 the DFC was awarded to 2,391 Australians, along with 144 first Bars and five second Bars.[17]
Over 1,000 DFCs were awarded to New Zealanders during the World War II, with the most recent awards for service in Vietnam. In 1999 the DFC was replaced by the New Zealand Gallantry Decoration.[18]

A total of 1,022 honorary awards have been made to members of allied foreign forces. This comprises 46 for World War I, 927 with 34 first and three second award bars for World War II, eight with three bars to members of the US Air Force for the Korean War,[12] and one to the US Marine Corps during the Iraq War.[19]

Notable awards

See also


  1. ^ "Medals: campaigns, descriptions and eligibility". Ministry of Defence. 12 December 2012. Retrieved 5 February 2015.
  2. ^ a b c "JSP 761: Honours and Awards in the Armed Forces" (PDF). Ministry of Defence. December 2014. Archived from the original (PDF) on 5 February 2015. Retrieved 5 February 2015.
  3. ^ a b c "No. 31674". The London Gazette. 5 December 1919. p. 15049.
  4. ^ a b c d e f P E Abbott & J M A Tamplin. British Gallantry Awards. pp. 91–95. Nimrod Dix & Co, London, 1981.ISBN 0-902633-74-0
  5. ^ P E Abbott & J M A Tamplin. British Gallantry Awards. p. xx. Nimrod Dix & Co, London, 1981.ISBN 0-902633-74-0
  6. ^ Peter Duckers. British Gallantry Awards 1855 – 2000. pp. 29–30. Shire Publications, Oxford, 2010.ISBN 978-0-7478-0516-8.
  7. ^ "No. 56693". The London Gazette. 17 September 2002. p. 11147.
  8. ^ John Mussell (ed). Medal Yearbook 2015. pp. 390, 429, 459. Token Publishing, Honiton, Devon.ISBN 978-1-908-828-16-3
  9. ^ a b Captain H. Taprell Dorling. Ribbons and Medals. p. 41. Published A.H.Baldwin & Sons, London. 1956.
  10. ^ Crompton, Ann, ed. (1999). Edward Carter Preston, 1885–1965: Sculptor, Painter, Medallist. University of Liverpool Art Gallery. ISBN 0853237921.
  11. ^ John Mussell (ed). Medal Yearbook 2015. pp. 87. Token Publishing, Honiton, Devon.ISBN 978-1-908-828-16-3
  12. ^ a b c P E Abbott & J M A Tamplin. British Gallantry Awards. pp. 95–98. Nimrod Dix & Co, London, 1981.ISBN 0-902633-74-0
  13. ^ Post 1979 DFCs include 9 for the Falklands (London Gazette Supplement, 8 October 1982); 5 for Sierra Leone (London Gazette Supplement, 30 September 2003); 14 for Gulf War (London Gazette Supplement, 29 June 1991Late award: 21 November 1994) & 1 honorary award; 16 & 2 bars for Iraq and 29 & 1 second award bar for Afghanistan, plus awards for smaller conflicts.
  14. ^ "No. 58092". The London Gazette (Supplement). 8 September 2006. p. 12274.
  15. ^ "No. 58776". The London Gazette (Supplement). 25 July 2008. p. 11242.
  16. ^ Veterans Affairs Canada – Distinguished Flying Cross (Retrieved 25 November 2018)
  17. ^ "Imperial Awards". It's an Honour. Australian Government. Retrieved 25 November 2018.
  18. ^ New Zealand Defence Force: British Commonwealth Gallantry Awards: Distinguished Flying Cross (Retrieved 25 November 2018)
  19. ^ a b "Historic award for female private". The Guardian. Guardian Media Group. 2007-03-22. p. 8. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 2018-11-25.
  20. ^ "Recommendation: Distinguished Flying Cross". Australian War Memorial. Retrieved 1 August 2018.
  21. ^ Harris, Paul (8 March 2008). "The brown-eyed, blonde RAF hero who is proud to wear her uniform". The Daily Mail. Retrieved 13 March 2008.
  22. ^ "No. 58633". The London Gazette (Supplement). 7 March 2008. p. 3616.

External links

Bert Wemp

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Born in Tweed, Ontario, he was raised in Cabbagetown and attended Dufferin School and Jarvis Collegiate Institute. In 1905, he joined the Toronto Telegram working as a suburban editor, editor, city editor, and head of the court bureau. During World War I, he served as commander of the 218th Squadron, Royal Naval Air Service and was the first Canadian to win the Distinguished Flying Cross. He was made a Knight of the Order of Leopold in 1919. During World War II he was a war correspondent. In 1946, he was made an Officer of the Order of the British Empire.In 1921, he was elected a school trustee and again in 1922. In 1924, he was elected to the Toronto City Council as an alderman for Ward 2. In 1930, he was elected mayor of Toronto. After serving as mayor, he returned to the Toronto Telegram as city editor. He died of emphysema in 1976.

Bob Weighill

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Dallas Schmidt

Dallas Wilbur Schmidt, DSC with bar, (August 9, 1922 – November 22, 2007) was a Canadian fighter pilot and flying ace with the Royal Canadian Air Force during the Second World War. He later served in the Legislative Assembly of Alberta from 1975 to 1982 as a member of the Progressive Conservative Party. During his time in public office he served as a cabinet minister in different portfolios in the government of Peter Lougheed.

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Horsfall was born in Liverpool, the son of Howard Douglas Horsfall and was educated at Eton College and Magdalen College, Oxford. He arrived at Oxford with an outstanding reputation as a rower and in 1912 was in the winning Oxford boat in the Boat Race. He joined Leander Club and was a member of the Leander eight which won the gold medal for Great Britain rowing at the 1912 Summer Olympics. At the age of 20, he was the youngest member of the crew.Horsfall stroked Oxford in the Boat Race in 1913 and became the first stroke to win the Boat Race after being behind at Barnes Railway Bridge. However Oxford lost in 1914, when Horsfall rowed at number four. He won the Grand Challenge Cup at Henley Royal Regatta four times – three times as a stroke – and he twice stroked the winning crew in the Stewards' Challenge Cup at Henley on the two occasions when he competed.

At the outbreak of the First World War, Horsfall joined the Rifle Brigade but later transferred to the Royal Flying Corps; He qualified as a pilot on 31 December 1914, and reached the rank of squadron leader. He achieved a rare double of being awarded the Military Cross in 1916 and the Distinguished Flying Cross in 1918.

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