A member of the armed forces mentioned in dispatches is one whose name appears in an official report written by a superior officer and sent to the high command, in which his or her gallant or meritorious action in the face of the enemy is described. Soldiers who are mentioned in dispatches do not receive a medal for their action but nonetheless are entitled to receive a certificate and wear a decoration. For 1914–1918 and up to 10 August 1920, the decoration consisted of a spray of oak leaves in bronze. This emblem was worn on the ribbon of the Victory Medal. From 1920 to 1993, the decoration consisted of a single oak leaf in bronze. In Britain, since 1993, the decoration is a single oak leaf in silver. The decoration is pinned or sewn diagonally on to the ribbon of the relevant campaign medal. If no campaign medal is awarded, the oak leaf is worn on the left breast of the dress uniform after any other medals that may be worn.

A Mention in Despatches is no longer awarded for meritorious service, it is an operational gallantry award given to all ranks for an act (or acts) of bravery during active operations. The MiD is now the longest continuous British gallantry award for military personnel. Soldiers can be mentioned multiple times, however only a single such decoration is worn. If mentioned in more than one campaign then the emblem is worn on each campaign ribbon. This award is available posthumously.