10 January 2011
The Sultan of Turkey issued medals to the British, French and Sardinian troops who had taken part in the war, each nation having its own issue. Ultimately however, the medals were issued haphazardly, due in no small part to the loss of a large number of British version medals when the ship carrying them, sank. It is thus commonplace to see Sardinian and French versions of the Turkish Crimea Medal issued to British troops.
36mm diameter silver medal. The obverse portrays a map of the Crimea draped over the wheel of a cannon that is resting on the Russian flag. Four allied flags flutter in the background.
On the British version (top of the page), the Union Jack flies second from right and CRIMEA 1855 appears in the exergue.
On the French version, the Tricolour flies second from right and LA CRIMEE 1855 appears in the exergue.
On the Sardinian version, the Sardinian flag flies second from right and LA CRIMEA 1855 appears in the exergue.
The reverse of the medal shows the Sultan's cypher enclosed within a laurel wreath. CRIMEA appears in Turkish script along with the year (in the Muslim calendar) 1271 A H (1855 AD).
Watered crimson with green edges. The original ribbon was 18mm wide but the suspension was often altered so that a wider ribbon could be accommodated.
The original suspension was simply a small ring through which the ribbon was passed. However, many of these rings were replaced with a suspender similar to that of the Crimea War Medal or Indian medals.
Medals were originally issued unnamed although many of the recipients had these privately named.
The French issue medal commands the highest prices and is also the only medal of the three for which there is no known miniature.
British version image courtesy of Spink. British Battles and Medals and The Medal Yearbook (Token Publishing Ltd) have been invaluable in putting together the information.
7 January 2011
I've just picked up an India General Service Medal with two clasps for Burma. John Samuel Mills signed up for 12 years' service with the Queen's (Royal West Surrey Regiment) at Bermondsey on the 26th October 1883. He was 19 years and eleven months old, a labourer by trade who had been born in the parish of St George's. He was short - five feet, three inches tall - with a fresh complexion, grey eyes and brown hair. He had a circle, presumably tattooed, on his left forearm, dots on his right second finger and right forearm, scars on both upper eyelids, a scar on his chin and another on the back of his head, and two scars on his left wrist. He must have looked as though he been in the wars even before he was through with his first medical inspection.
John was unmarried and gave his next of kin as his father, Samuel Mills, of 28 Commercial Road, Pimlico. He remained in the UK with the Queen's until the 14th December 1885 and then sailed for India where he remained until October 1886. He was in Upper Burma until March 1888 and then back to India again until March 1891. From March 1891 until his discharge on the termination of his engagement, he was based in the UK.
What I like about John Mills' service - and the reason I bought this particular medal - is that he has a surviving service record which lists his overseas stations and his various admissions to hospital. His first spell in hospital was at Tralee in Ireland when he spent 83 days in hospital as a result of syphilis. A boil put him into hospital in Calcutta in March 1886 and he had eneteric fever (typhoid fevere in today's parlance) in Umballa in 1889. Inflamed lymph glands hospitalised him at Solan and Dagshai respectively in 1890.
John Mills's habits are described as temperate and his character as very good. I have not researched his life either before or after his military service. The quality of his medal is VF.