BOMBER COMMAND MEDAL CAMPAIGN
- In pursuit of a Fair Review
THE AIR CREW EUROPE STAR
WHY THERE IS A CASE FOR THE CORRECT INTERPRETATION OF THE RULES
The Air Crew Europe Star was the highly prized Second World War Campaign Star which was awarded to personnel who flew in operational service between 3rd September 1939 and 5th June 1944.
It had strict criteria and a prior qualification of the 1939-45 Star. Due to the complexities of its rules and the historical evolvement of the award, there have been many cases of inconsistencies and instances where unfair treatment of service personnel can arise.
Many veterans believed that there was no reason to cease the medal at this date. Whilst many crews participated in tactical bombing in support of Operation Overlord, strategic bombing, for which Bomber Command fulfilled this pivotal role and was designed to destroy the German capability to wage war, continued after 5th June 1944. Indeed many veterans will advise that some of their most dangerous missions occurred after D-Day, when Germany was pulling its troops back to reinforce the defence of their industrial areas and cities.
The Air Crew Europe Star was grouped with two other campaign stars, the Atlantic Star and the France and Germany Star. Out of the three campaign stars, aircrews were only allowed to earn one star with one clasp.
The Atlantic Star was awarded from 3rd September 1939 to 8th May 1945, and the France and Germany Star was awarded from 6th June 1944 to 8th May 1945.
An equality could be suggested, in this group, as explained by the following:
It was possible to earn an Atlantic Star with an Air Crew Europe Clasp and vice versa an Air Crew Europe Star with an Atlantic Clasp before D-Day.
It was possible to earn an Atlantic Star with a France and Germany Clasp and vice versa a France and Germany Star with an Atlantic Clasp after D-Day.
However Aircrews were not afforded specific recognition after D-Day as the Air Crew Europe Star ceased to be awarded.
THE CASE FOR THE CORRECT INTERPRETATION OF THE RULES
During research for the campaign for a Fair Military Medal Review for the Bomber Command case, the historical evolvement was considered at length, together with the widely "letter of the law interpretation," which has caused some confusion over the years.
The prior qualification is that the 1939-45 Star needs to be earned before the Air Crew Europe Star can be qualified. This is correct and this rule still applies today.
THE LETTER OF THE LAW INTERPRETATION
The "letter of the law" interpretation is that the 1939-45 Star has to be earned first.
Whilst this was correct in the 1945 published statement on campaign stars, an amendment to this rule was included in the 1946 published statement on campaign stars. During the research carried out by the Bomber Command Medal Campaign Group at the National Archives in March 2018, wartime documentation clarifying this change of rule was discovered.
The amendment means that the first two months (60 days) operational service can be attributed to the Air Crew Europe Star, but there is still a prior qualification of the 1939-45 Star.
Prior qualification is a confusing concept in this case because there is still a prior qualification of the 1939-45 Star but it does not have to be earned first. As long as four months are served in an operational unit, then qualification for both Stars, i.e. 1939-45 Star and Air Crew Europe Star or Air Crew Europe Star and 1939-45 Star is achieved.
So the “letter of the law” interpretation is no longer correct. There is a potential material adjustment to eligibility, considering that most casualties occurred in 1944, and many new air crew would have commenced operations during this time.
It is now clear from a study of the 2012 document, Military Medals Review written by Sir John Holmes and available online at
this rule was not understood, as ANNEX E on page 53, states: "RAF - 120 days operational flying (first 60 days being 39/45 Star) between 3 Sep 1939 and 5 June 1944.
THE "NOT WELL KNOWN RULE"
We now know this rule to have been misinterpreted by the Ministry of Defence's Medals Office also, and discussions with the MOD have determined that this rule is rule is a rule that is "not well known."
Post discussions, a veteran was found in order to test this rule with the medals office. He satisfied the conditions for the correct rules and he is now in receipt of his well deserved Air Crew Europe Star. Second World War veteren Wireless Operator and Gunner George Verden now has his rightfully earned medal, read his story here.
WHO DOES THIS AFFECT?
The 1946 change of rules relating to the Air Crew Europe Star effects British and Commonwealth aircrews who flew from United Kingdom bases over Europe. During the second World War. The time qualiication was two months (60 days) with one operational sortie.
The dates which are affected by the rule are between the 6th February 1944 and 5th April 1944. Any aircrew who started operational service and flew from UK bases over Europe between these dates and who was not awarded an Air Crew Europe Star will now qualify.
The Ministry of Defence have confirmed that they will ensure that future applications, in light of the 1946 change of rules, is considered.
If veterans or their next of kin believe that they may be entitled to an Air Crew Europe Star, then they should fill out the application form on the Government website:
Supporting documents will need to be provided, for example copy of log book or service records. Service records can, we believe, can be obtained from Cranwell. The following link gives information re service records and medal office information:
The form will then need to be sent to the MOD Medal Office. If the application is successful then you will be asked to return your France and Germany Star in return for an Air Crew Europe Star and France and Germany Clasp. Please note: If the veteran has passed away then next of kin are able to apply.
The Bomber Command Medal Campaign Group are happy to receive queries relating to the change of rules for the Air Crew Europe Star. Please use our contact page.
SECOND WORLD WAR VETERAN GETS AIRCREW EUROPE STAR AFTER BEING DENIED IT TWO YEARS EARLIER
It has not yet been determined how many aircrew are without the correct medals, but the Air Crew Europe Star was part of a group of campaign stars and not awarding this medal correctly has a knock on effect for the awards of the Atlantic Star and clasp and the France and Germany Star and clasp.
It may be possible that the rules were applied correctly after the war, but certainly in latter years, there is cause for concern, due to George's case, that they have not been applied correctly.
We have also come across an Australian veteran who also did not have the correct criteria applied and so it would seem that the Commonwealth medals offices may not be aware of the change of rule also.