'mentioned in dispatches'

Posted by Ward on September 06, 2004

A British friend uses this term when he meets someone who has been talked about positively in the press or more generally. He says that they were 'mentioned in dispatches'. He claims the phrase goes back to the British occupation of India, where positive behavior on the part of an officer would be mentioned in the regular military mail that came back to the UK.
Have any of our UK friends clarification or otherwise?