Background: Instituted in 1855 just one year after the DCM as a Level 2 award to reward the actions of Naval personnel in the Crimean war. Originally issued with a scroll suspension similar to the DCM, it was in fact the Meritorious Service Medal that was used but the words on the reverse ´For Meritorious Service´ had the last two words removed and Conspicuous Gallantry engraved in their place. Following the Crimean war the medal fell into dis-use but was resurrected in July 1874 for the Ashantee wars. At this point the reverse was changed to have the words ´For Conspicuous Gallantry´ all in raised letters. The CGM was a military decoration awarded to personnel of the British Armed Forces (and from September 1942 to personnel of the Merchant Navy of rank equivalent to that of Petty Officer or Seaman) and formerly also to personnel of other Commonwealth countries, below commissioned rank, for conspicuous gallantry in action against the enemy at sea or in the air. One of the rarest medals in the British honours system it was awarded extremely sparingly, only two have been issued under the reign of Queen Elizabeth 2, one for the Falklands War (to an Army Warrant Officer on board a ship) and the other to a Navy Diver for actions during the first Gulf War. Only 80 awards were made in the whole of the Second World War. No longer awarded.
FAA/SFX.631 Naval Airman First Class Donald Arther Bunce – 825 Squadron, Fleet Air Arm
Who was Air Gunner in the Swordfish aircraft piloted by Sub-Lieutenant Kingsmill. With his machine on fire and the engine failing, he stayed steadfast at his gun, engaging the enemy fighters which beset his aircraft. He is believed to have shot one of them down. Throughout the action his coolness was unshaken. The above award was for the action which took place on the morning of 12th February 1942, when the squadron, under the command of Lieutenant Commander Esmonde DSO, were ordered to attack the German battle cruisers “Scharnhorst” and “Gneisenau” and the cruiser “Prinz Eugen” which, strongly escorted by thirty surface craft, were entering the Straits of Dover. The six planes of the squadron which had been based at RAF Manston in Kent, all failed to return from this action. Lt Cdr Esmonde DSO received a Posthumous VC. For his leadership in the attack Sub Lt Kingsmill and his observor Sub Lt Samples were awarded the DSO. In total the squadron received one VC, three DSO´s one CGM and twelve posthumous MID´s.