The Distinguished Flying Medal (DFM) was a military decoration awarded to personnel of the Royal Air Force and other British Armed Forces, and formerly to personnel of other Commonwealth countries, below commissioned rank, for "exceptional valour, courage or devotion to duty whilst flying in active operations against the enemy". The award was discontinued in 1993 when all ranks became eligible for the Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC) as part of the reform of the British honours system.
|Distinguished Flying Medal|
Obverse and reverse of the medal
|Awarded by UK and Commonwealth|
|Eligibility||British and (formerly) Commonwealth forces|
|Awarded for||Exceptional valour, courage or devotion to duty whilst flying in active operations against the enemy|
|Status||Discontinued in 1993|
|Established||3 June 1918|
|Order of Wear|
|Next (higher)||Military Medal|
|Next (lower)||Air Force Medal|
|Related||Distinguished Flying Cross|
The medal was established on 3 June 1918. It was the other ranks' equivalent to the Distinguished Flying Cross, which was awarded to commissioned officers and Warrant Officers, although the latter could also be awarded the DFM. The decoration ranked below the DFC in order of precedence, between the Military Medal and the Air Force Medal. Recipients of the Distinguished Flying Medal are entitled to use the post-nominal letters "DFM".
In 1979 eligibility for a number of British awards, including the DFM, was extended to permit posthumous awards. Until that time, only the Victoria Cross and a mention in dispatches could be awarded posthumously.
In 1993, the DFM was discontinued, as part of the review of the British honours system, which recommended removing distinctions of rank in respect of awards for bravery. Since then, the Distinguished Flying Cross, previously only open to Commissioned and Warrant Officers, can be awarded to personnel of all ranks.
The DFM 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.
There were two categories of award, either "Immediate" or "Non-Immediate".
An "Immediate" award was one which was recommended by a senior officer, usually in respect of an act or acts of bravery or devotion to duty deemed to command immediate recognition. In such circumstances, the recommendation for the award was passed as quickly as possible through the laid down channels to obtain approval by the AOC-in-C of the appropriate Command to whom, from 1939, the power to grant immediate awards was designated by King George VI.
An example of an "Immediate" award is that to Leslie Marsh, which was published in the London Gazette on 15 February 1944.
"Non-Immediate" awards were made by the Monarch on the recommendation of the Air Ministry and were to reward devotion to duty sustained over a period of time. This category of award could be made at any time during an operational tour but, in a large number of instances, the award was given to recognise the successful completion of a full tour of operational flying.
Between 1918 and 1993 a total of 6,967 medals, 64 second award bars and one third award bar were awarded. Over 95% of these awards were for service during the Second World War.
During the First World War, 104 Distinguished Flying Medals and two second award bars were awarded to British and Commonwealth servicemen, with a further four honorary awards to foreign combatants, three Belgians and one French airman.
The first awards of the medal appeared in the London Gazette of 3 June 1918, where two recipients are listed.
The first award of a bar to the Distinguished Flying Medal was announced in the London Gazette on 3 December 1918. It was awarded to Sergeant observer Arthur Newland, DFM who had been awarded the DFM on 21 September 1918.
In the period between the World Wars, 41 awards of the DFM were made between 1920–29 and a further 39 between 1930–39, along with two second award bars.
During the Second World War, a total of 6,637 DFMs were awarded, with 60 second award bars. A unique second bar, representing a third award, was awarded to Flight Sergeant Donald Ernest Kingaby on 7 November 1941.
At least 170 Honorary DFM's and 2 Honorary bars (one of them to Josef Frantisek) were awarded to aircrew from non-Commonwealth countries. 39 were awarded to servicemen of the US, 66 Polish plus one bar, 33 French, 14 Czechoslovakian plus one bar, 7 Dutch, 6 Norwegian, 4 Russian and one Belgian.
142 DFMs were earned between 1946 and 1993 when the award was discontinued.
The DFM is an oval silver medal, 35 mm wide and with a height of 41 mm, with the following design:
|Distinguished Flying Medal ribbon bars|
|DFM||DFM and Bar|
Adrian Philip "Tim" Goldsmith, (25 April 1921 – 25 March 1961) was an Australian flying ace of the Second World War. Officially credited with shooting down 16¼ enemy aircraft while serving with the Royal Australian Air Force, Goldsmith scored 12¼ of his victories during the Siege of Malta. His final four victories were achieved against Japanese aircraft while conducting operations over the South West Pacific.Alex Nash
James Alexander Nash DFM (10 January 1923 – 28 March 1944) was an Australian rules footballer who played for the Hawthorn Football Club in the Victorian Football League (VFL). His only VFL game, which was against Collingwood, was while he was on leave from Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) duties.
A notable pilot, he was awarded the Distinguished Flying Medal for his efforts during the Second World War. He was killed in action over New Guinea when the bomber he was flying in was shot down.Arthur Ernest Newland
Sergeant Arthur Ernest Newland DFM & Bar (1882–1964) was a British World War I observer ace credited with 22 victories.Donald Kingaby
Donald Ernest Kingaby, (7 January 1920 – 31 December 1990) was a Royal Air Force (RAF) aviator and flying ace of the Second World War. He was the only person to be awarded the Distinguished Flying Medal three times.
During an operational career of some 300 operations, Kingaby scored 21 air victories against enemy aircraft, as well as two shared victories, six probables and 11 damaged during the war. 14 of his solo victories came against the Messerschmitt Bf 109.Geoffrey Allard
Geoffrey "Sammy" Allard & Bar (12 August 1912 – 13 March 1941) was a Royal Air Force (RAF) flying ace of the Second World War. Allard scored 19 victories against enemy aircraft, as well as five shared kills, two probable kills during the war.George Unwin
George Cecil Unwin, (18 January 1913 – 28 June 2006) was a Royal Air Force officer and flying ace of the Second World War.Jackie Mann
Jackie Mann (11 June 1914 – 12 November 1995) was a British RAF fighter pilot in the Battle of Britain, who in later life was kidnapped by Islamists in Lebanon in May 1989, and held hostage for more than two years.James Francis Edwards
James Francis "Stocky" Edwards, CM, DFC & Bar, DFM, CD (born 5 June 1921) is a former Canadian fighter pilot during World War II. With 19 confirmed aerial victories, Edwards is Canada's highest scoring ace in the Western Desert Campaign.James Grant (aviator)
Sergeant James Grant was a Scottish flying ace credited with eight aerial victories during World War I. The teenage non-commissioned officer was a rarity among aces. While most were commissioned officers and fighter pilots, he was an observer and gunner aboard a bomber. Nonetheless, his accuracy with a machine gun and his doughtiness led to his being awarded the Distinguished Flying Medal when he was only 18 years old.James Harry Lacey
James Harry Lacey, (1 February 1917 – 30 May 1989) was one of the top scoring Royal Air Force fighter pilots of the Second World War and was the second highest scoring RAF fighter pilot of the Battle of Britain, behind Pilot Officer Eric Lock of No. 41 Squadron RAF. Lacey was credited with 28 enemy aircraft destroyed, five probables and nine damaged.Jimmy Gardner (actor)
Edward Charles James Gardner, DFM (24 August 1924 – 3 May 2010) was an English actor.During World War II, Gardner served in the Royal Air Force as an air gunner with No. 10 Squadron. He completed 30 sorties as a Halifax rear gunner and was awarded the Distinguished Flying Medal.His first film appearance was in The Curse of the Mummy's Tomb released during 1964. Thereafter he appeared in over 30 films and also made extensive TV and theatre appearances. Some of his best known Shakespearean roles such as Adam in As You Like It, and Gravedigger in Hamlet were performed under the direction of Terry Hands.He played Knight Bus driver Ernie Prang in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, the third film in the Harry Potter film series.John Jones (RAF airman)
Sergeant John Jones was a World War I flying ace credited with 15 aerial victories.John Jones served as an observer/gunner in the Bristol F.2 Fighters of No. 22 Squadron. Flying with such pilots as Second Lieutenants Frank George Gibbons, Sydney A. Oades, Stanley Wallage, Frank George Gibbons, and Captain William John Mostyn, Jones began his victory streak on 5 December 1917. Six months later, on 2 June 1918, he had run his total to four enemy aircraft and an observation balloon destroyed, and ten aircraft driven down out of control.John Wooldridge
John De Lacy Wooldridge, (18 July 1919 – 27 October 1958) was a Royal Air Force officer and bomber pilot, and a British film composer.Josef František
Josef František DFM & Bar (7 October 1914 – 8 October 1940) was a Czechoslovak fighter pilot and Second World War fighter ace who flew for the air forces of Czechoslovakia, Poland, France, and the United Kingdom. He was the highest-scoring non-British Allied ace in the Battle of Britain, with 17 confirmed victories and one probable, all gained in a period of four weeks in September 1940.
František was a brilliant pilot and combatant but had frequently breached air force discipline first in Czechoslovakia, then in France and finally in Britain. The RAF found it best to let him patrol alone, a role in which he was highly successful. He was killed in a crash in October 1940 in the final week of the Battle of Britain.Paul Farnes
Paul Caswell Powe Farnes, (born 16 July 1918) is a former Royal Air Force fighter pilot and Second World War flying ace who flew during the Battle of Britain as one of "The Few", during which he scored 8 kills (comprising 7 and 2 shared destroyed, 2 'probables' and 11 damaged).Peter Isaacson
Peter Stuart Isaacson, AM, DFC, AFC, DFM (31 July 1920 – 7 April 2017) was an Australian publisher and decorated military pilot. He was the owner of Peter Isaacson Publications, publisher of various trade journals and suburban newspapers including the Southern Cross and the Sunday Observer in Melbourne. During World War II, he served in the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) as a pilot with RAF Bomber Command and was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross, the Air Force Cross and the Distinguished Flying Medal.
Isaacson grew up in Melbourne and started working for a newspaper when he was sixteen. He joined the RAAF in 1940. Following his stint in Bomber Command, he became well known in Australia for his tours in the Avro Lancaster Q-for-Queenie to promote the sale of war loans and, in particular, for flying his plane under the Sydney Harbour Bridge in 1943. He transferred to the RAAF Reserve after the war, retiring as a wing commander in 1969. From 1956 he served as a Trustee, Chairman, and finally Life Governor of the Victorian Shrine of Remembrance. In 1991 he was appointed a Member of the Order of Australia for his publishing and community work.Reg Grant
Reginald Joseph Cowan "Reg" Grant, (3 June 1914 – 28 February 1944) was an officer of the Royal New Zealand Air Force and a flying ace of the Second World War. He commanded No. 485 Squadron RNZAF and later No. 65 Squadron RAF in operations over Europe, but was killed in a flying accident in 1944.Virgil Brennan
Virgil Paul Brennan, (6 March 1920 – 13 June 1943), also known as Paul Brennan, was an Australian aviator and flying ace of the Second World War. Enlisting in the Royal Australian Air Force in November 1940, he briefly served in the European Theatre before transferring to Malta. Over the next five months, Brennan was officially credited with the destruction of 10 Axis aircraft from a total of twenty-four operational sorties. Reposted to England, he was assigned as a flying instructor and collaborated in the writing of Spitfires over Malta, a book about his experiences on the island. Returning to Australia during 1943, Brennan was killed in a flying accident at Garbutt, Queensland, in June that year.William Dyke (RAF airman)
Sergeant William Norman Dyke, was a British World War I flying ace credited with five aerial victories.
|Orders of chivalry|
Sorted in order of wear per era or 1994 constituent force
until 6 April 1952