The War Medal 1939-1945 was established on August 16th 1945 and was awarded to all personnel of the armed forces of the British Commonwealth (excluding the Home Guard) and Merchant Navies for having served at least 28 days, operational or non-operational, between September 3rd 1939 and September 2nd 1945. For members of the Merchant Navy the 28 days had to be served at sea.
The circular medal is made of cupro-nickel. It is 1.42 inches in diameter. The obverse shows the crowned coinage effigy of King George VI, facing left, and the legend GEORGIVS VI D : BR : OMN : REX ET INDIAE IMP . The reverse of the medal shows a lion standing on the body of a dragon. This dragon is double-headed: one of an eagle and one of a dragon to signify the principal occidental and oriental enemies. At the top are the dates 1939/1945.
The War Medal 1939-1945 was issued unengraved to New Zealand service persons, as were other Second World War campaign medals awarded for service for New Zealand.
The ribbon is the red, white, and blue of the (British) Union Flag. There is a narrow central red stripe with a narrow white stripe on either side. There are broad red stripes at either edge, the two intervening stripes being blue.