Most gallantry awards were made for specific acts of bravery or meritorious conduct in the field, although some were also given in the New Year and King’s Birthday Honours to recognise distinguished service under other conditions. See The British gallantry awards of the Great War
Some types of award had a published citation describing the act. The New Year and King’s Birthday Honours (in each June) do not have citations and you will not find a citation for the Military Medal or the Mention in Despatches. It is possible (but rare) that reasons for the latter will be found in the war diary of the man's unit.
The awards and citations were published in the London Gazette, replicated a day or two later by the “Times”.
The National Archives has an incomplete card index to gallantry awards, giving details of the London Gazette issue in which it appeared.
Corporal Alfred Alexander Burt of the 1/1st Hertfordshire Regiment, who was awarded the Victoria Cross after an action at Cuinchy on 27 September 1915. Image courtesy of the Hertfordshire County Council.
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