In October 1919 a bar was authorised to all those who had come under actual fire between the qualifying dates. The official criteria was that to be eligible the recipient had to have been within range of German field artillery during the qualifying period.
This bar bears the inscription ‘5th AUG. – 22nd NOV. 1914’ and was sewn directly onto the ribbon through small holes in each corner. Some 145,000 were issued.
All those who were awarded a bar were entitled to wear a silver rosette on the ribbon-strip. In practice however, many who were not awarded the bar also wore the silver rosette on their ribbon-strip. This was often done by ex-servicemen eager to differentiate their ribbon from that of the 1914-15 Star, which was identical. It is also fairly common to find the rosette incorrectly sewn onto the ribbon of a 1914 Star in place of (or as well as) a bar, irrespective of whether a bar was awarded or not.
Recipients were automatically entitled to the British War Medal and Victory Medal.
Why the bar?
It seems rather unusual that a bar was issued to those who served under fire between 5th August and the 22nd November 1914, when so many men were later to be killed in a further four years of war. I had in my collection a 1914 Star and bar trio to a Guardsman who served just 99 days in France in 1914, before returning home to serve out the rest of the war in England. And such examples are not unusual.
The bar to the 1914 Star is unique however, in that it represents the original British Expeditionary Force (BEF), famously referred to by the Kaiser as, 'that contemptible little army' and known ever after as the Old Contemptibles.
This small British army of pre-war professional soldiers and reservists, bore the brunt of the German onslaught from late August to November 1914. From their first engagement with the enemy at the Battle of Mons (23rd August), the BEF fought a continuous and gallant retreat, inflicting heavy losses on the oncoming German forces. The German advance was finally halted at the Battle of the Marne (7th - 10th September), the BEF fighting side by side with the French.
The qualifying period for the bar ends with the First Battle of Ypres (19th October - 22nd November) where, during the Battles of Langemarck (21st - 24th October), Gheluvelt (29th - 31st October) and Nonne Bosschen (11th November) the Germans came to within a breath of breaking the British line and winning the war.
The bar therefore represented a time of crisis when the war lay in the balance and following devastating and costly battles, the original BEF emerged in November 1914 utterly decimated.