This order was established to reward officers who exhibited individual instances of meritorious or distinguished service in war. It was usually awarded for service under fire or under conditions equivalent to service in actual combat with the enemy. However, from 1914 to 1916 it was awarded under circumstances which could not be regarded as under fire. After January 1, 1917, commanders in the field were instructed to recommend this award only for those serving under fire. Prior to 1943, the order could be given only to someone who had already been Mentioned in Despatches. The order is generally given to officers in command at or above the rank of Lieutenant-Colonel. Awards to ranks below this are usually for a high degree of gallantry just short of deserving the Victoria Cross.