Does the reversal of the ribbon on a military medal (South Africa / UK; WWII) carry meaning or is it simply an error?

Does the reversal of the ribbon on a military medal (South Africa / UK; WWII) carry meaning or is it simply an error?


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My father was showing me his father's WWII medals for service in the South African military. Having found images depicting the official order of wear I noticed that some had reversed ribbons. I presume that this was simply a mistake, but can someone please confirm this?

  • The 1939-1945 Star is almost always depicted with the darker blue on the left, but ours is on the right.
  • The Africa Star is again almost always depicted with the darker blue on the left with ours in reverse (the image has a bar, but this is the only depiction of the reversed ribbon that I could find).
  • The Defence Medal that we have has its ribbon sewn such that the King's head would lie on the reverse when worn (i.e. I presume that one wouldn't wear a medal with the stitching visible).

The Defence Medal in particular is what lends me to believe that they are in error, but I thought that it was odd that 3 of 5 had this trait.


Different ribbons have different meanings. For example, the Order of the Crown (Prussia) can be worn on various ribbons to denote different things, such as the statutory ribbon (standard), a Kriegsband or War Ribbon for an award with swords denoting merit in war, or even a life-saving ribbon to denote multiple acts of life saving (over and above the original award of the Life-Saving Medal). However, a simply reversed ribbon is nothing more than a mistake. For example, the War Medal for the Austro-Prussian campaign against Denmark in 1864 has the Prussian Cypher on the left and the Austrian on the right. The ribbon's colors correspond (white stripe on the left, yellow on the right). In practice this was often ignored and the ribbon was mounted for wear in either direction.


Watch the video: Awards in the US Army