of the Order of the British Empire (OBE)
WWI was lasting longer than anyone expected and King George V had no suitable
way to reward services to the war effort by civilians at home and servicemen
in support positions. The answer was to create the Order of the British
Empire, originally with only one level, but then divided into Civil and
Military in 1918. Eventually the OBE evolved into a system of rewards with
five levels. The first two (Knight Grand Cross Order of the British Empire
and Knight of the Order of the British Empire) confer knighthood and are
not available to Canadian citizens, the three lower levels - Commander,
Officer (medal shown) and Member - are available to Canadians. The order
was created mainly to award non-combatant services to the war and included
women, whom most orders excluded. It was conferred for services to the
Empire at home, in India and in the Dominions and colonies, and at any
level could be awarded for gallantry as well as for service. Many senior
officers expected, and received, the award as a matter of course.
The medals of the order were changed considerably in 1937 when the
insignia was redesigned and the colour of the ribbons were changed. The
Commander has a blue enamelled cross, the Officer has a gold cross and
the Member has a silver cross. After January 1958, gallantry awards were
recognized with silver oak leaves.
There have been a total of 481 CBE's issued to Canadians; 200 civil
and 281 military.
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