Battle Honour Criteria





Why they are awarded

Battle Honours awarded to HM ships are intended to foster esprit de corps among the ships companies and so take a personal interest in the wartime exploits of their ships and past ships of the same name.

They are are recommended by the Battle Honours Committee to the Navy Board which authorises the official Honour. The first official list of Battle Honours was Admiralty Fleet Order (AFO) 2565/54 Issue 98/54 dated 01-October-1954. This set out criteria for the awards and listed them. This has been amended by later orders and memoranda.

It has been decided that the earliest action which is known in sufficient detail and which is worthy of inclusion is 'ARMADA 1588'. To date the most recent award is 'AL FAW 2003'.

The Scroll

The actions and campaigns listed as Battle Honours are displayed on a scroll, mounted in a suitable position in the ships which are eligible for the Honours. Battle Honours are normally shown in BLOCK LETTERS, with Single-ship and Boat Service actions listed in lower case between inverted commas. This allows the distinction between a Fleet Action named after a place and a single ship of the same name. e.g. CHESAPEAKE 1781 and 'Chesapeake' 1813. Battle Honour Scrolls taken from ships being sold are stored for use in other ships of the same name.

Note: In this web for reasons of readability Battle Honours are shown in the Alphabetical and Date lists in upper and lower case, with single-ship or Boat Service actions shown in italics between inverted commas. Individual Honour pages are shown in block letters.

Type of Actions

Honours are awarded under six types of action.

  1. Fleet or Squadron Actions.
  2. Single-ship or Boat Service Actions.
  3. Major Bombardments.
  4. Combined Operations.
  5. Campaign Awards.
  6. Area Awards.


Battle Honours are awarded for successful war service, not just a record of service. This implies in addition to actual sinking or capture of an enemy warship, the following:

  1. Sinking enemy merchant ships in escorted convoy.
  2. Engagements with light forces when both sides often incurred losses.
  3. Operations resulting in the effective complete frustration of the enemy's intention even although no warship may have been sunk.

When deciding which actions merit an award, the following general rules are followed, but exceptions may be allowed.

  1. A Battle Honour will be awarded for those actions resulting in the defeat of the enemy, or when the action was inconclusive but well fought, and for exceptional cases where outstanding efforts were made against overwhelming odds.
  2. A Battle Honour will not be awarded for a British defeat, or when the action was inconclusive and badly fought.



This page last edited - 19 June, 2012.

Copyright Ian M King, except where otherwise indicated.