The Distinguished Service Order (DSO) was
instituted in 1886 to reward junior officers in the armed forces for
distinguished service or acts of gallantry in combat against the enemy.
While the Order of the Bath had been available for senior officers and
the Distinguished Conduct Medal for the other ranks, no award below the
level of the Victoria Cross (VC) had existed for junior officers. In
1942 the award of the DSO was extended to officers of the Merchant Navy
who had performed acts of gallantry while under enemy attack.