A bareheaded effigy of King George VI, facing left, and the inscription GEORGIVS VI D:G:BR:OMN:REX F:D:IND:IMP.
The Royal Crown rests on the stump of an oak tree, flanked by a lion and a lioness. At the top left is the date 1939, and at the top right, the date 1945. The base of the medal has the words THE DEFENCE MEDAL in two lines.
A broad, flame coloured band in the centre flanked by stripes of green, with narrow black stripes in the centre of each green stripe.