1 September 2009

Army of India Medal

An order dated 21st March 1851 authorised the East India Company to issue a medal to all survivors who served in India between 1799 and 1826.

See above. The period covered encompassed four wars: the Second Mahratta War (1803–4), the Gurkha War (1814–16), the Pindaree or Third Mahratta War (1817–18), and the First Burmese War (1824–26). Because the medal was issued retrospectively, and some 48 years after the first qualifying action at Allighur in 1803, fewer medals were issued than would have been the case had awards been made immediately after the campaigns. As it was, around 4,500 medals were issued in total, the vast majority of these with only a single clasp.

A silver, 35mm diameter medal featuring the diademed head of Queen Victoria on the obverse and the legend VICTORIA REGINA. The reverse depicts the figure of Victory, seated and facing left. In her right hand she holds a laurel branch, and in her right hand a wreath. A palm tree can be seen to the left and around the top is the wording, TO THE ARMY OF INDIA. The dates 1799-1826 appear at the bottom. The medal was designed by William Wyon who was the official chief engraver of the Royal Mint from 1828 until his death in 1851. It was a William Wyon design which was the model for Queen Victoria's head on the Penny Black and other later Victorian postage stamps.

The length of the hyphen between the two dates is known to vary. Those with a long hyphen are thought to have been sent out to India unnamed and then named in Calcutta and sent to claimants still serving in India. Medals with a shorter hyphen and the designer's initials (WW) were largely issued to the Queen's ships and regiments.

32mm wide and light blue.

Generally in indented capitals to British and European troops and various indented capitals and script to natives.

This medal was only issued with clasps and there were twenty-one clasps issued in total. These are listed below in date order, earliest first. The order of the clasps on this medal is different from most medals in that the last award is placed nearest the medal.

1. Allighur
Awarded for the action of 4th September 1803.

2. Battle of Delhi
Awarded for the action of 11th September 1803.

3. Assye
Awarded for the action of 23rd September 1803.
Assye is today, Assaye in the state of Maharashtra. Read more about the Battle of Assye at British Battles.com. The Duke of Wellington, who was a colonel (and acting Major General) at Assye would later say that Assye was his hardest fought battle.

4. Asserghur
Awarded for the action of 21st October 1803.

5. Laswaree
Awarded for the action of 1st November 1803.

6. Argauum
Awarded for the action of 29th November 1803.

7. Gawilghur
Awarded for the action of 15th December 1803.

8. Defence of Delhi
Awarded for the actions of 8th-14th October 1804.

9. Battle of Deig
Awarded for the action of 13th November 1804.

10. Capture of Deig
Awarded for the actions of 11th-23rd December 1804.

11. Nepaul
Awarded for the actions of October 1814 to March 1816.

12. Kirkee
Awarded for the action of 5th November 1817.

13. Poona
Awarded for the actions of 11th-16th November 1817.

14. Kirkee and Poona
Awarded for the actions of 5th-16th November 1817.

15. Seetabuldee
Awarded for the actions of 26th-27th November 1817.

16. Napgore
Awarded for the action of 16th December 1817.

17. Seetabuldee and Nagpore
Awarded for the actions of 26th-27th November 1817 and 16th December 1817.

18. Maheidpoor
Awarded for the action of 21st December 1817.

19. Corygaum
Awarded for the action of 1st January 1818.

20. Ava
Awarded for actions between 1824 and 1826.

21. Bhurtpoor
Awarded to men who took part in the siege of Bhurtpoor between 17th and 18th January 1826.

The first action commemorated on a clasp for this medal was the assault on the fortress at Allighur on 4th September 1803, a date which does not of course agree with the dates 1799-1826 that are mentioned on the reverse of the medal.

Seven clasps were awarded to one man - the most awarded. Two men received five clasps, twenty-three received four, and one hundred and forty nine received three.

Medals with the Ava clasp are the most common; those with the Kirkee (seven known issues) and Seetabuldee (two issues to Europeans) clasps, the most rare.

An Army of India medal with a scarce combination of Battle of Deig and Capture of Deig clasps (only 32 entitlements for this combination) was sold at auction by Dix Noonan Webb in June 2009 for £7,800 against a top estimate of £4,500.

The photograph is taken from Dix Noonan's September 2009 auction catalogue whilst British Battles and Medals has been invaluable in putting together the information.

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