WEARING YOUR MEDALS
War medals may only be worn on the left breast by the persons upon whom they were conferred. The honour afforded remains with the individual and does not pass to a widow, parent, son or relative when the recipient is dead. Similarly, the same rules apply in cases where a posthumous award is made.
The policy as it stands is that on the death of a recipient, technically, any honours and awards revert to the commonwealth in the first instance. The reality of course is that family members have an ambient claim and the commonwealth would not seek to intervene in medals being passed on directly within the family.
Family members may wear their forebears medals on the right breast which indicates that they are not their own. There is no limitation or formal policy on what occasions they should be worn. In essence, the wearing of forebear’s medals on the right breast is a convention passed down over the years that is largely dictated by the occasion and (ideally) a measure of decorum fitting the event. They should not be worn lightly or where it would be inappropriate to do so.
For uniformed personnel, on ANZAC and Remembrance days only, modification of normal service dress code is allowed whereby they wear their own medals on the left breast accompanied (if they wish) by their ancestor’s on the right.
War Medals (with certain exceptions) are worn on the left breast of the coat, or in a corresponding place on the dress, as the case may be. They will be worn in a horizontal line, suspended from a single bar, of which no part is to be seen, or stitched to the garment. When worn on the coat, the coat should be buttoned up.
The length of the drop between the top of the ribbon and the bottom of each medal should measure 9.5cm for full size medals and 5cm for miniatures. War medals are worn to show the Sovereign’s head.
War medals (or Campaign medals) are worn in the order of the dates of Campaigns for which they have been conferred, the first obtained being farthest from the left shoulder.