20 May 2011

MGC at Waterloo

If Ancestry.co.uk is to be believed, the Machine Gun Corps was active in Belgium at least a century earlier than previously thought. This from the Waterloo Medal Roll on the .co.uk site:

Closer inspection however, reveals that these are not Waterloo men but rather men entitled to the "India General Service Medal 1908" with the clasp, "Afghanistan, North West Frontier 1919". The image above also shows men of the Norfolk Regiment and the Royal Army Medical Corps. I also noticed Buffs and Queen's territorials on another page. There will be many more anachronistic examples besides. Doh!

2 May 2011

East and West Africa Medal

1st November 1892.

Issued for various operations in East and West Africa between 1887 and 1900.

36mm diameter silver or bronze medal. The obverse, designed by L C Wyon, portrays the diademed and veiled head of Queen Victoria and the legend VICTORIA REGINA. The reverse, designed by Sir Edward Poynter RA, depicts a bush encounter between British soldiers and natives. Note that the obverse and reverse are the same as those on the Ashantee Medal (1873) and the Central Africa Medal (1891). The gauge on the East and West Africa Medal is slightly thinner than that on the Ashantee Medal.

33mm wide. Yellow with black borders and two thin black stripes.

Swivelling, straight bar.

A variety of styles: impressed block capitals to British and some colonial units but engraved examples to British officers and engraved capitals to some colonial units are also common. Impressed naming is generally larger on those medals issued to men serving with Naval units.

British Battles and Medals notes that "over twenty... possibly twenty-two" clasps were issued for this medal. The following are confirmed and there are question marks over clasps for 1896-97 and 1896-99. No clasp was issued for the M'wele Campaign of 1895-96 but the name and date were engraved around the rim. The confirmed clasps are as follows:

1. 1887-8
Army Order 212 of 1892 authorised the medal and clasp for operations against the Yonnie Tribe between 13th November 1887 and 2nd January 1888.

2. Witu 1890
Awarded to members of the expedition under Vice Admiral Sir Edmund Freemantle against Sultan Fumo Bakiri of Witu; 17th to 27th October 1890.

3. 1891-2
Issued for a series of expeditions in Gambia between 29th December 1891 and 5th February 1892 against Chief Fodeh Cabbah.

4. 1892
Awarded to men who took part in any of the three expeditions in Sierra Leone and Nigeria between 8th March and 25th May 1892.

5. Witu August 1893
This clasp was authorised on 30th August 1895 for those who took part in the Pumwani and Jongeni campaigns between 7th and 15th August 1893.

6. Liwondi 1893
This clasp was authorised on 30th August 1895 for the expedition along the Upper Shire River in Malawi between February and March 1893.

7. Juba River 1893
This clasp was authorised on 30th August 1895 for an expedition against the Somalis of Jubaland between 23rd and 25th August 1893.

8. Lake Nyassa 1893
This clasp was authorised on 30th August 1895 for a second expedition against Chief Makanjira in Central Africa in November 1893.

9. 1893-94
This clasp covers two separate expeditions against 1) the Sofas in Sierra Leone between 26th November 1893 and 20th January 1894 and 2) operations on the Gambia River between 22nd February and 11th March 1894. Naval personnel involved in this operation did not receive this clasp but received the one for Gambia 1894 instead.

10. Gambia 1894
This clasp was authorised on 30th August 1895 for Naval personnel involved in the expedition up the Gambia River.

11. Benin River 1894
This clasp was authorised on 30th August 1895 for members of the expedition who sailed along the Benin River to punish Chief Nana of Brohemie.

12. Brass River 1895
Awarded to members of an expedition against King Koko who had attacked the River Niger Company's trading post at Akassa.

13. 1896-98
Authorised in 1900 for several minor operations in the Northern Territories of the Gold Coast.

14. Niger 1897
Authorised in 1897 for operations to Egbon, Bida and Ilorin and for garrison duty at Fort Goldie and Lokoja.

15. Benin 1897
Awarded for an expedition to Benin City against Chief Overiami.

16. Dawkita 1897
Authorised in April 1898 to members of the force under Lieutenant F B Henderson of the Royal Navy for their defence of the town of Dawkita in the Gold Coast hinterland after it was attacked by Sofa slavers.

17. 1897-98
Authorised in 1900 for expeditions to the hinterland of Lagos between September 1897 and 14th June 1898.

18. 1898
Authorised in 1900 for various expeditions in Northern Nigeria.

19. Sierra Leone 1898-99
Authorised in 1900 and awarded for services in the 'Hut Tax' War between 18th February 1888 and 9th March 1889. This clasp is deeper than any of the others awarded and only medals issued with this clasp were named in square block capitals.

20. 1899
Awarded in 1900 to men of the Niger Coast Protectorate Force and the West African Frontier Force who took part in three operations between February and May 1899 commanded by Captain C H P Carter and Captain R Gabbett.

21. 1900
This last clasp was granted in 1903 for two expeditions - the Munshi and the Kaduna - conducted in Norther Nigeria between 4th January and 9th May 1900.

In addition to these confirmed clasps, the following should also be noted:

1. Clasps for 1896-97 and 1896-99 were reported to have been authorised but there is no evidence that they were ever issued.

2. Mwele 1895-1896
As mentioned earlier, no clasp was issued for these operations against Kenyan coastal Arabs, but the word Mwele was impressed on the rim of the medal along with the date 1895 or 1895-6. Bronze medals were also issued for these operations.

Images courtesy of Spink. British Battles & Medals has been invaluable in putting together the information.