Member of the Order of the British Empire

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With the First World War lasting longer than expected and no suitable way to reward services to the war effort by civilians at home and servicemen in support positions, King George V created another order with five levels. The first two levels confer knighthood, and since 1935, have not been available to anyone retaining Canadian Citizenship. The other three levels - Commander, Officer and Member - have been available to Canadian citizens. The order could be given generously for services to the Empire at home, in India and in the Dominions and colonies. The order was created mainly to award non-combatant services to the war and was to include women, whom most existing orders excluded. When the order was created in 1917 it had only one division, but was divided into Civil and Military divisions in 1918. The order at any level can be awarded for gallantry as well as for service. The order took an abrupt change in 1937 when the insignia and the colour of the ribbon were changed.[1]


A member wears a silver badge (2 inches wide) on the left breast (no enamels).


Original Badge: A cross patonce (four arms with three points on each arm) of silver-gilt with the arms enamelled pearl-grey, surmounted by an Imperial Crown. The circular centre, in gold, shows the figure of Britannia, holding a trident and seated beside a shield bearing the national flag. The centre is surrounded by a circular band, enamelled crimson and bearing the motto FOR GOD AND THE EMPIRE in gold.

Current Badge (after 1937):As above except that in the centre, in gold, are the crowned effigies of King George V and his consort Queen Mary. Neither the original nor the current OBE and MBE badges are enamelled.


A rope circle with the current Royal Cypher, surmounted by an Imperial Crown and with a hallmark on the lower limb.


A silver emblem of two oak leaves is worn on the riband when the appointment to the order is for gallantry.


A ring is attached to the top of the crown through which a larger ring passes.


Original: The civil ribbon was purple (1.5 inches wide). The military ribbon had a narrow central stripe of scarlet added.

Current (after 1937): The civil ribbon is rose-pink with pearl grey edges. The military ribbon has a narrow central stripe of pearl grey added.


The order was established in June 1917. In December 1918, military and civil divisions were established.

On 09 March 1937, the insignia and ribbon were changed. After 01 January 1958, gallantry awards were recognized with silver oak leaves.


There have been a total of 2,726 MBEs issued to Canadians; 859 civil and 1,867 military.

There have been 63 Signals recipients of the MBE. Please see Member of the Order of the British Empire - Signals Recipients for a listing of the individuals.