The Distinguished Flying Medal (DFM) is a British medal. The medal was introduced to suitably decorate non-commissioned officers and men who showed courage during flights. For courage on the ground there are the Air Force Cross and the Air Force Medal. In similar cases air force officers received the Distinguished Flying Cross for courage during flights. In 1993 the British military decoration system was reformed, the AFC and the DFC remained but the corresponding medals were replaced by the Conspicuous Gallantry Cross. The Dutch Flying Cross is inspired by the Air Force Cross and the Distinguished Flying Cross and unites the features of both British crosses and medals.
The rectangular silver medal is worn on the left side of the chest and is attached to a ribbon with diagonal purple bands and a richly decorated silver clasp. Repeated awards are shown with a silver buckle on the ribbon and a small silver rose on the baton.
The front shows the portrait of the British monarch. There are medals with portraits of George V, George VI and Elizabeth II. On the other side is a seated goddess.
The medal was intended for British and Commonwealth military personnel. The criterion for awarding this medal was ‘exceptional valour’, courage or devotion to duty whilst flying in active operations against the enemy.
The medal was introduced on 3 June 1918 and abolished in 1993. The Conspicuous Gallantry Medal is higher in rank. The Distinguished Service Medal, the Military Medal and the Air Force Medal are equal in rank to the Distinguished Flying Medal. The small silver or bronze laurel branch of a person mentioned in the Despatch is lower in rank.
Currently, the Distinguished Flying Cross is now awarded, instead of the medal, to all ranks in the air force and to personnel of the army and the navy if they have a duty in an airplane.
During and before World War I 105 medals and two buckles were awarded. The severe air war in World War II led to 6,637 medals being awarded and 60 buckles. Of these medals 165 were granted to pilots and men outside the Commonwealth.
The only person with two buckles on the ribbon of his Distinguished Flying Medal was the British Flight Sergeant Donald Ernest Kingaby who received his second buckle for a third award in November 1941. He shot down 21 German planes in World War II.
Just as for the Distinguished Flying Cross the warrant was altered in 1932. The qualification was now “for exceptional valour, courage or devotion to duty whist flying in active operations against the enemy”. The medal was awarded to an Australian for the last time in 1971. The Australian air force fought in Vietnam and supported the South Vietnamese people in their fight against Northern communist aggression. In total 436 Distinguished Flying Medals and two buckles were awarded to the Royal Australian Air Force.
The Distinguished Flying Medal was awarded once in the Falkland war.
An oval silver medal with a width of 35 millimetre and a height of 41 millimetre. There is an image of the reigning monarch on the front.
On the reverse side, within a laurel wreath there is an image of Athena Nike, a goddess dedicated to victory in battle, sitting on an airplane and with a bird of prey in her hand. The text reads “FOR COURAGE”.
Until 1919 the ribbon, 32 millimetre wide, was white with broad horizontal bands. Since 1919 the bands are at an angle of 45 degrees.