British commanders-in-chief of a theatre of war or campaign were obliged to report their activities and achievements to the War Office in the form of despatches, which were published in The Gazette.
Many attached lists of men deemed worthy of a mention, though text explaining the precise reason why a particular individual was chosen is uncommon. Some were mentioned on multiple occasions.
To be Mentioned in Dispatches can be a condition of receiving certain decorations. Though not a medal, for actions during WW1, soldiers were entitled to receive a certificate and wear a decoration of a spray of oak leaves in bronze (instigated in an Army Order on 12 January 1920), which could be displayed on the Victory Medal.
Hundreds of thousands of individual stories are behind the names of men and women mentioned in despatches – including veterinary corps, medical corps, chaplains, as well as frontline soldiers.