April Artwork of the Month: The Distinguished Flying Cross

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01 April 2018

To mark 100 years since the founding of the Royal Air Force (RAF) in 1918, April's Artwork of the Month is a specimen Distinguished Flying Cross military decoration.

The Distinguished Flying Cross was established shortly after the creation of the RAF as a gallantry award for acts of valour while flying on active operations against the enemy.

Designed by Edward Carter Preston (1885-1965), the silver decoration takes the form of a 'cross fleury'. The front consists of a winged central roundel containing a Tudor rose and interlaced RAF cypher surrounded by a laurel wreath and surmounted by a crown.

Superimposed on the vertical arms are aeroplane propellers. The upper arm ends in a rose, while the lower and horizontal arms  terminate with bomb motifs.

The reverse is plain except for a centred cypher of King George VI. The decoration is suspended from a straight bar with floral supports. Diagonal stripes of white and purple make up the ribbon.

1,067 people received this award during the First World War. Among them was William Wedgwood Benn (1877-1960), a serving MP.

Over 20,000 Distinguished Flying Crosses were awarded during the Second World War. The decoration continues to be awarded today.

This Distinguished Flying Cross is an un-awarded specimen given to the House of Commons by the Royal Mint. It forms part of the House of Commons collection of medals and coins (part of the Parliamentary Art Collection).

Further information

Image: Distinguished Flying Cross designed by Edward Carter Preston, silver, 1918 (Parliamentary Art Collection, WOA M0374)

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Works of Art (Speaker's Advisory Committee)

The Speaker's Advisory Committee on Works of Art is appointed by the Speaker to advise on matters relating to works of art in the House of Commons