The medal was first instituted by the norwegian king, Haakon VII, on March 17th 1939.
The criteria for recieving the award were changed on February 6th 1942. From then the medal could be awarded for "personal effort for the cause of Norway", during WW2. On March 22nd 1943 was decided that the ribbon was to be decorated with an oakleaf when the medal was awarded to a person for "personal effort for the cause of Norway". If a person recieved the medal twice, another oakleaf was added and so on.
The medal is produced in silver and shows the norwegian king Haakon VII with his name and "Alt for Norge", translated to "All for Norway". The medal was produced by Spink & Son in London during the war and later at Tostrup in Oslo.