19 December 2011

Falklands DSC group sells for £120,000

Hammer price on the Falklands DSC group; lot 1056 last Friday, was £120,000.  Add the DNW premium of 20% (£24,000) and 20% VAT on that premium (£4,800) and you're looking at a grand total of £148,800.  Wonder how much it will go for when it next comes up for sale?

Photo courtesy of Dix Noonan Webb.

6 December 2011

WW1 Campaign Medals - dates of issue

The following information, in much abbreviated form, is taken from Howard Williamson's, The Great War Medal Collectors' Companion:

1914 Star
Issued as a single medal from January 1919 to October 1920
Issues of the 1914 Star Trio between November 1920 and end of 1922, with late issues from 1923

1914 Clasp and Roses
Main issue dates between January 1920 and July 1921
Issued with Trios from November 1920

1915/15 Star
Issued as a single medal from January 1920 to September 1920
Issues of the 1914/15 Star Trio between October 1920 and 1926, barring late issues

British War Medal & Victory Medal
First issues mainly to 1914 and 1914/15 Star recipients.  Trio issues, see dates above.
Majority of pairs issued between November 1920 and December 1927

Territorial Force War Medal
Majority issued between 1922 and 1926

MID Emblems
Majority despatched between April 1920 and May 1921
Incorporated with 1914 Star Trios from April 1920 and 1914/15 Star Trios from July 1920

The above information may be helpful in dating photographs of service personnel wearing a single 1914 Star (with or without clasp) or 1914/15 Star; similarly photos of men wearing just the ribbon for these medals. 

25 November 2011

Falklands DSC Group up for grabs

Deep pockets required for this Falklands War DSC group which is up for grabs at the next DNW medals auction on the 15th December (when are deep pockets NOT required for medals?)  DNW estimates the group at between £80k and £100k.  Let's see how much it actually goes for.

Interviews with the recipient, who had his left arm blown off whilst unsuccessfully defusing a bomb during the Falkalnds War, are HERE and HERE.  Image courtesy of Dix Noonan Webb.  Read more about the group HERE.

1 November 2011

KSLI footballers

My thanks to Philip Morris for supplying me with QSA medal roll information on a number of the footballers mentioned in my King's Shropshire Light Infantry 1895/96 post. Now updated.

27 October 2011

South Africa Medal 1834-1853

By General Order No 634 on the 22nd November 1854.

Awarded to survivors of the African frontier wars of 1834-5, 1846-7 and 1850-3. This was the first medal specially struck for military service in Africa which was available to all ranks.

Silver, 36mm diameter, with an ornamental scroll swivelling suspension. The obverse portrays the diademed head of Queen Victoria and the legend VICTORIA REGINA. The reverse depicts the lion of South Africa crouching in front of a protea bush. Above are the words SOUTH AFRICA; in the exergue, the date 1853.

As with the Indian Mutiny Medal, the South Africa Medal design is another father/son collaboration. The obverse of the medal was designed by William Wyon (1795-1851) who was the official chief engraver of the Royal Mint from 1828 until his death. (See also the Army of India Medal). The reverse was designed by Leonard Charles Wyon (1826-18910, William's eldest son, who became Second Engraver at the Royal Mint in 1844 and who succeeded his father as Modeler and Engraver in 1851.

Watered, orange-yellow with two narrow and two wide stripes in dark blue.

Indented in roman capitals, as seen on the Military General Service Medal.

None issued.

The medal is commonly called the Kaffir Wars medal. Royal Mint records show that 10,558 medals were struck between 24th April 1855 and 31st March 1862; this number including two patterns presented to Queen Victoria, those issued to deserters and later cancelled, replacements, duplicates etc. The actual number of medals awarded is, according to British Battles and Medals, 8,540.

The obverse photograph is courtesy of Dix Noonan Webb; the reverse courtesy of Neate Auctions. British Battles and Medals has been invaluable in putting together the information.

21 October 2011

Medal prices to make you weep

I've just returned from a short business trip to Colwyn Bay.  When I travel, I like to sniff out the local secondhand and antiquarian booksellers and, if I'm able to, pick up a book as a memory of that trip.  I found a nice volume on Indian Regiments on a trip to Canterbury the other week, and yesterday visited the Bay Bookshop and came away with a second edition of E C Joslin's Standard Catalogue of British Orders Decorations and Medals (1972).  I recommend the shop if you happen to be in Colwyn Bay; nice people to chat with and a great military section.

You know that Joslin is going to be a depressing read when you read in his foreword, that "... we have experienced some remarkable figures at auction such as £3,500 for a fairly ordinary VC...".  What would he have thought of the Ted Kenna VC sale I wonder.

Anyway, back in 1972 your silver Queen's Sudan Medal would have been valued at £8 and a Khedive's Sudan medal at anything between £7 and £22.  Prices for medals with multiple clasps are not given.  These days you'd be lucky to get away with spending less than £500 on a Queen's Sudan and Khedive's Sudan.  As for the First World war medals, £2 might have got you a 'bare-arsed' 1914 Star, but you'd have had to pay double that for the same medal with the Mons clasp. 

I'm on the look-out now for the first (1969) edition of this book, plus subsequent editions.  I still rue the day, back in the days when I did not collect medals, that I sold a 1914 Star trio in my local market for £12.  Then again, that was some years ago and looking at Joslin's valuations, it probably wasn't such a bad deal (although that's one sale that I do regret).

11 October 2011

7162 Pte Alexander Burns, Royal Highlanders

I've written about 7162 Private Alexander Burns before.  Since that post, I've managed to retrieve his Boer War medal rolls from Ancestry, and also his First World War medal index card.  I looked in vain on WO 363 and WO 364 for a surviving service record, and also checked WO 97 over at findmypast.co.uk on the offchance that there might be something there that had been mis-filed.  There wasn't.  I did however, find papers in WO 96 which show that Alexander joined the Forfar and Kincardine Artillery (militia) on the 11th October 1898. He signed his name as "Alex Burns", giving his age as 17 years and 11 months and his place of birth as Dundee.  He was a mill-worker employed by Mr Scott of Dundee; not a lot to go on in terms of research leads, but at least it's a lead of sorts.

Alex was slight. He stood five feet, five and a half inches tall and weighed 109lbs (which is just seven stones and 11 pounds).  He had a fresh complexion, grey eyes and brown hair.  A scar on the second finger of his right hand is also recorded.

Alex's attestation was approved at Perth on the 12th October 1898 but he was barely with the regiment before he joined the Royal Highlanders on the 20th January 1899.  He had completed 49 days of drill and his character was noted as "good". 

There are only four pages of this service record that survive in WO 96 but crucially, on page four, Alex's father is recorded as Frank Burns of 17 Arbroath Road, Dundee.  This again, should enable further research.

29 September 2011

King's Shropshire Light Infantry 1895/96

Some while back I bought a group of medals that had belonged to 1093 Colour Sergeant Charles Smith of the King's Shropshire Light Infantry. Along with his 1882-dated Egypt Medal, Khedive's Star and Army Long Service and Good Conduct Medal was this rather fine photo of D Company Football team (no battalion given) taken after they had won the Company Challenge Shield for the season 1895-1896 (they'd been runners-up the previous year). The men in the photo are all named, Colour Sergeant Smith sitting cross-legged far right.

Here are the names, left to right, of the victorious team:

Back Row: L/Cpl C Crooke, L/Cpl T Corbett, Pte J Lewis, Cpl W Keight, Cpl J Gibbons (linesman)
Middle Row: Clr Sgt E Beale, Cpl F Woodland, Capt W C Cass, Sgt A Nicholls
Front Row: Pte J Pearson, Pte T Morton, Clr Sgt R Woodland, Pte F Harrison, Clr Sgt Charles Smith

I decided to see if I could find service records for any of these men. Charles Smith had nothing in WO 97 but a record does survive in WO 363 which shows that he enlisted with the 21st Brigade on the 7th January 1879 and was discharged on the 30th September 1908 having served a grand total of 29 years and 272 days. He died of a cerebral haemmorhage on the 13th April 1939 aged 78; the death certificate in the name of Frederick Charles Smith.

L/Cpl Charles Crooke
Nothing in WO 97, WO 364 or WO 363. Charles Jeffery C Crooke was born in 1877, his birth recorded in the June quarter of that year in Walsall, Staffordshire. He enlisted with the KSLI around the 5th September 1894, served with the regiment in South Africa during the Second South African War and was awarded the QSA with clasps for Cape Colony, Paardeberg, Driefontein and Johannesburg. He appears on the QSA medal roll as sergeant and was a colour sergeant by 1902.  He was the best man at the 1906 wedding of Sergeant Bugler Henry Crew, also of the KSLI and also a Boer War veteran. Charles Crooke served during the First World War, his medal index card indicating that he arrived overseas with the regiment as a quartermaster sergeant on the 21st December 1914.  He was commissioned second lieutenant on the 24th May 1918 and was mentioned in dispatches in July 1922.  The address on his MIC is given as Binswood Cottage, New Road, Meole Brace, Shropshire. Charles Crooke died in Cheshire in 1962 at the age of 85. My thanks to Robert Crew for contributing information - see comments.

L/Cpl Thomas Corbett
Nothing in WO 97 but there is a Thomas Corbett who joined the 3rd Militia Bn (WO 96) as a seventeen-year-old in 1889. WO 364 has the same man as 3327 Thomas Corbett who joined the regiment on the 24th October 1890 aged 18 years and eight months and was already serving with the 3rd Militia Battalion. He was a lance-corporal by July 1895 and would go on to serve during the Boer War earning the QSA with clasps for Cape Colony, Paardeburg and Driefontein. Returned to England on the 17th May 1900, he would serve a total of 12 years.

Pte J Lewis
Too many options to be certain. There is, in WO 97, a 3356 Pte John Lewis who was serving with the regiment, based at the regimental depot, when D Company won the Challenge Shield.  This man also served in South Africa during the Second South African War and was awarded the QSA with clasps for Cape Colony, Paardeberg, Driefontein and Johannesburg.  Remarks note he was posted to the Army Reserve.

Cpl Walter Keight
In WO 97 there is a 1607 Walter Keight who joined the regiment on the 11th June 1885, although this man was a sergeant by 1895/1896. Served in South Africa during the Second South African War and was awarded the QSA with clasps for Cape Colony, Paardeberg, Driefontein and Johannesburg.  Remarks note he was posted to the 3rd Battalion.

Cpl John Gibbons
Nothing in WO 97. WO 364 has 2207 John Gibbons who had joined the regiment on 8th March 1887 and who was a corporal by December 1895. He was discharged in March 1908, by then a sergeant and with 21 years' service under his belt.

Sgt Ernest Beale
Nothing in WO 97. The WW1 medal index cards have a 1603 Regimental Quartermaster Sergeant E Beale whose number indicates that he joined the KSLI in 1885. This man was awarded the Meritorious Service Medal with gratuity in 1944. There is a further card for 13032 RQMS Ernest Beale of the 6th KSLI who served overseas from the 24th July 1915 and who was discharged to commission with the Labour Corps on the 25th August 1915.  He was subsequently captain and qaurtermaster sergeant with the 25th Labour Group.  The address on his MIC gives 14 College Hills, Shrewsbury.  Possibly the same Ernest Beale who died in Rowley Regis, Staffordshire in 1957 at the age of 89.

Cpl Frederick George Woodland
WO 97 has 3280 Frederick George Woodland, born in Colchester Barracks in approximately June 1872, joined the KSLI at Shrewsbury on 2nd August 1890, discharged in July 1911 having served 21 years. He was certainly in England when D Company won its shield but he was a sergeant by September 1894. He died in 1951 aged 78. The 1881 census shows him as an eight-year-old living at Copthorn Barracks Shrewsbury, his father a 41 year-old staff-sergeant with the Shropshire Militia.

Ken Woodland, writing to me in December 2015, noted: "Frederick George Woodland was the son of my great grandfather, Richard Woodland, born 1841. He was a colour sergeant in the KSLI. My grandfather [his brother] was George Charles Woodland who also fought with the KSLI in World War 1."

Captain Claude William Cally Cass
Claude Cass was born in London on the 25th October 1861 and joined the KSLI on the 29th July 1882. Papers in WO 76 note service in the UK as well as in Malta, Suakin, Lower Egypt and Hong Kong. A note on his file indicates that he was posted to the 1st Battalion on the 9th March 1898. At the time the document was completed, Captain Cass was unmarried.

Sgt A Nicholls
Nothing in WO 97.

Pte J Pearson
Nothing in WO 97. A 2724 Private J Pearson served in South African during the Second South African War and was awarded the QSA qith clasps for Cape Colony and Paardeberg.  He was returned to England on the 7th July 1900.  His QSA is in private hands.

Pte Thomas Morton
WO 97 has 5022 Pte Thomas Morton who joined the regiment in February 1896 aged 18 years and six months. The T Morton in the photograph looks young enough to be this man. Thomas would go on to serve 15 years and 41 days with the regiment before being discharged in March 1911. His brother, Titus Morton, was a regular with the 2nd Battalion Royal Scots.

Clr Sgt Alton Richard Woodland
I had not found any record of service in WO 97 although I surmised that this man was possibly related to Frederick Woodland. I could not find, however, an R Woodland listed in the Woodland household on census returns (apart from father Richard who would have been too old to be playing football in the mid 1890s).

Writing to me in December 2015, Ken Woodland again noted, "[This man] is probably Alton Richard Woodland who became a quarter master sergeant and then eventually an officer with, I think, the rank of colonel.  He became a freemason, Grand Lodge. He also sat on the FA council and became very influential in local politics."

As a result of this tip-off I found a record for Alton Woodland in WO 76 which shows that he had attested, aged 21 years and 6 months, on the 30th March 1889 and served in the ranks until 21st November 1903 when he was commissioned. He had married Rose Peel at Nottingham in October 1891 and the couple had three children: Richard William Woodland (born 1894), Lillie Florence Grace Woodland (born 1895) and Ada Louise Woodland (born 1898). The WO 76 record does not state Alton Woodland's rank, and neither is the document dated. It does however note that he served in South Africa between November 1899 and October 1901.

There is also a record for this man in AIR 79 which shows that he served in the RAF from September 1918 until May 1920 when he was struck off strength. Hi rank is given in a number of places as "Major and Quartermaster KSLI" and latterly, "Major / Acting Lieutenant-Colonel". The following notice appeared in the London Gazette dated 11th June 1920:

Alton Richard Woodland was indeed a freemason and had been initiated in 1898. He was a member of Pengwerne Lodge, Shrewsbury; Castlemartin Lodge, Pembroke; Portsmouth Lodge, Portsmouth; and Wrekin Lodge. His death was recorded at Chelsea in the third quarter of 1933. He was 66-years-old.

Pte F Harrison
Too many options to be certain.

If anyone can shed any more light on any of these men, please let me know.

23 September 2011


Ah well, nothing again from today's Dix Noonan Webb auction, and whilst the illustrated example above wasn't exactly typical of the gulf between estimate and hammer price, as I mentioned the other week, hammer prices for the most part left most of the estimates well and truly in the shade. I had my eye on a few groups, mostly those with an LSGC as part of the offering but I didn't actually bid in the end. A nice Crimean War / Indian Mutiny group (estimated at a low £500-£600) went for £1600 whilst an Egypt / Khedive's pair with LSGC (estimate £320-£360) went for £680; too rich for my pocket, particularly when you add on the 20% buyer's premium and VAT. Never mind.

21 September 2011

I like it; I like it a lot

Howard Williamson's The Great War Medal Collectors Companion, that is. My copy (number 518) arrived yesterday; £50 from The National Archives' online bookshop and jam-packed with illustrations.

I've hardly had time to do the book justice so far but I know that I will be returning to it again and again. There is a good chapter on the medal index cards but I do question one point where Howard is quoting from Joe Hodgson's article in the OMRS Journal of Spring 1988. Speculating on TF numbers on MICs pre March 1917, Joe had observed that:

"men with low numbers [ie original numbers rather then the five or six-digit re-numbered numbers] on their [1914 or 1914/15] Stars are soldiers who were killed, discharged, POWs, transferred or commissioned before 1st March 1917".

The bold text is mine. Surely POWs would have been renumbered wouldn't they? They were still on the regimental rolls, just as men who were missing but not officially confirmed as Killed or Died were still on the rolls. The latter were re-numbered, surely the POWs would have been as well, wouldn't they? I don't have evidence to back this up but I'm sure somebody can confirm or deny this.

Two pages later Howard notes that the TP/104 B code on William Reader's MIC indicates London and the Royal Fusiliers whereas the MIC records KRRC and 4th London Regiment. But of course, the 4th London Regiment was the 4th (City of London) Battalion, The London Regiment (Royal Fusiliers) and the CWGC notes that he was serving with the 2/4th Battalion when he died, even though his number - GS/84154 on the MIC, G/84154 according to CWGC - belongs not to the TF but to the regular Royal Fusiliers Regiment.

But it's a great book, and a must-have not only for Great War Medal Collectors (which I'm not, really; or at least only marginally) but for anybody with an interest in the Great War and British military history generally. I also happen to think that £50, or even £60 for that matter, is a price well worth paying for such a well produced item.

Photo courtesy of The Daily Telegraph.

15 September 2011

The Great War Medal Collectors Companion

I've just ordered The Great War Medal Collectors Companion by Howard Williamson having seen it advertised in the most recent Dixon's Gazette (issue No. 67) and I'm really looking forward to seeing it. Apart from being a lavishly published volume, the detail it contains seems impressive. This from the book's blurb:

Medal Index Cards

•Over 1,500 MIC abbreviations and codes deciphered.
•Definitive notes on the MICs and how to read them.
•The significance of different coloured inks revealed.

Gallantry Medals

•DSO, MC, DCM and MM Gazettes, giving dates & battles covered by each gazette.
•Especially useful for MM research, linking the London Gazette date back to the bravery date.
•DCM, MC and DSO Gazette citations that omit dates & places (March 1916 - January 1919).
•List of MC and DCM recipients for 1st July 1916. Also all DCM and dated bars noted.
•A full list of escapers awarded the MM; Army Order 193 of 1919 explained and 1914 MMs noted.
•How to spot fakes e.g. MC, DSO, DFC, AFC etc as well as fake bars.
•History of the DCM League and MM Association plus Ex-Servicemen’s Association details.
•Definitive notes about the naming & renaming of medals - many examples illustrated.
•How to read & research the MM Cards, including the breakthrough use of schedule numbers.
•Detailed notes on the Somme Gazettes & the units engaged. List of VCs and where they were won.
•Documents found with gallantry groups, including divisional cards, award notifications etc.
•Chronological list of actions & battles fought in all theatres, plus indexed maps.

Campaign Medals

•Full history of each medal, including Army Orders, Army Council Instructions & award criteria.
•How & when medals were named & distributed. Packaging & accompanying documents.
•How to spot fake medals and correctly identify original ‘5th Aug-22nd Nov 1914’ bars.
•How to spot renaming. Font alphabets for 1914 & 1914/15 Trios, DCMs and MMs.

Dixons - and elsewhere - advertise the book at £60 with £10 for postage and packing. However, if you order through the National Archives' online bookshop, you can pick it up for £50 including postage and packing; quite a saving.

One minor quibble though, before I've even seen the book; all apostrophe purists know that the title should be The Great War Medal Collectors' Companion, ie the Companion belonging to Great War Medal Collectors (assuming that the book is intended for more than one medal collector that is, otherwise it would be Collector's Companion). Either way, it needs an apostrophe.

Howard's eagerly awaited book on the Military Medal, a companion to this volume, is due out in 2014. Word to the wise is, buy MMs now because once the book is published, the price of these will go up.

12 September 2011

Collecting habits

When it comes to collecting medals, general advice seems to be, collect with a theme in mind. That theme may be regiments, campaigns, one single medal (or combination of medals), medals named to a particualr surname, medals awarded to men of a particular location, and so on and so on. The problem is, after a relatively recent five years of sporadic collecting, I have yet to settle on a definitive theme. Nevertheless, I have set my own 'rules' and here they are.

1. I buy for pleasure and as an investment for my children.
2. I believe that all British medals, particularly the Victorian medals, are objects of beauty.
3. I like medal singles and groups with an India connection.
4. I like the Long Service and Good Conduct Medal - Army, Navy and Volunteer, it doesn't matter, although I like the Army LSGC in particular
5. I prefer to buy singles or groups that have been unresearched
6. Once purchased as part of my collection, I would not re-sell a medal or group.
7. I have a desire to own at least one medal from all of the major campaigns from the Military General Service Medal campaigns onwards
8. I have a secondary desire to own at least one medal from each of the old 69 line regiments.
9. I abhor the practive of erasing names on medals and would never knowingly buy an erased or re-named medal.
10. I would not buy a broken group unless it was a sought-after family medal or part group of family medals
11. I do not like medal copies and would never, under any circumstance, buy one to complete a group.
12. I am always looking for alternative income streams to feed my habit!

Pictured above, the medal group for George Arthur James Welch, an ex Yorkshire Regiment regular who latterly served as a sub-conductor with the Indian Army Ordnance Corps. His group includes the Delhi Durbar Medal for 1911 and an Army LSGC (so he ticks two of my boxes there). An added bonus was that I found a sheaf of service papers in the India Office Collection at the British Library; a source that is often overlooked (third box ticked).

7 September 2011

£770,000 for Ted Kenna VC

A VC group of ten to Australian Ted Kenna, has been sold at auction in Melbourne for a world record £770,000. Private Kenna earned the medal when he single-handedly charged a machine-gun post in New Guinea on 15th May 1945. He died in 2009.

Photo courtesy of the Sydney Morning Herald.

6 September 2011

DNW auction - 23rd September 2011

I see that Dix Noonan Webb has another medals' auction coming up in a couple of weeks' time. You can browse the Dix Noonan Webb auction catalogue here, and the image above - a Carib War Medal from 1773 - is lot number one of 966 lots in all.

I've been a fan of DNW for some while. The company provides good background on the lots and often good images too - and I've used plenty of the latter on this blog. Furthermore, for those of us whose pockets are not too deep, it can sometimes appear, from the estimated values given, that some groups and singles may be within easy reach. At least that's what I've thought on a number of occasions, only to watch in horror as the auction estimates are surpassed by many hundreds of pounds. There are some lots in the upcoming sale which again appear to be drastically under-valued; some by as much as fifty per cent if some dealers' catalogues are anything to go by. Still, it's nice to dream for a while, and to hope that all serious medal collectors and dealers will somehow forget all about the 23rd September and go shopping in Ikea instead. Dream on.

4 September 2011

Gwalior Campaign Stars

By a General Order dated 4th January 1844

Awarded to troops under the command of Sir Hugh Gough or Major-General Grey for separate actions which took place on the 29th December 1843. Gough's force defeated the Mahrattas at Maharajpoor at a cost of 800 men, whilst Grey lost approximately 215 men in his defeat of the Mahrattas at Punniar.

50mm diameter, bronze six-pointed star with smaller silver six-pointed star within. The obverse has the date, 29TH DECr which appears in the centre, and around the edge the year 1843. Either MAHARAJPOOR (as in the example above) or PUNNIAR (below) also appear. The reverse is plain except for the naming.

45mm wide, watered red, white, yellow, white and blue.

Various suspenders subsequently used, although British Battles and Medals notes that the medal was probably originally intended to be worn directly on the jacket, with brass hooks fitted on the reverse.

In script on the reverse.

The stars were made from captured guns. As the two actions were fought on the same day, twenty miles apart, it was impossible for one recipient to be entitled to more than one star.

Dix Noonan Webb for the images, British Battles & Medals for the background.

30 August 2011

The shape of things to come?

Currently up for grabs on eBay is this "box of 50 loose medals", all from the Leeds Rifles Museum and all now being disposed of as unclaimed and surplus to requirements, "by resolution of the Leeds Rifles trustees". The lot comprises:

two Volunteer Force LSGC medals, six King George V TEMs, one King George VI TEM, one King George VI Coronation Medal, one King George V Special Constabulary Medal, two King George VI 1939-1945 War Medals, ten 1914-15 Stars, fourteen 1914-18 BWMs, thirteen 1914-18 Victory Medals.

Some groups are included in the above and the majority, but not all of the items, were issued to men of the Leeds Rifles. If you want to bid on them, here's the link: Item number: 190569377638.

As Local Authority budgets continue to be squeezed, can we expect to see more museums and archives clearing out stock that is surplus to requirements? I know for a fact that some archives are awash with unwanted medals which will never see the light of day, the majority of these donated by well-meaning descendants of the recipients.

29 August 2011

Defence of Kelat-i-Ghilzie Medal

Sanctioned by a General Order from Simla, India dated 4th October 1842.

Awarded to the Garrison at Kelat-i-Ghilzie, Afghanistan which was commanded by Captain John Halkett Craigie. The Garrison withstood a four-month siege until relieved in May 1842.

Silver, 36mm diameter. The obverse (above) portrays a shield with the words KELAT-I-GHILZIE whilst the reverse (below) depicts an assortment of military trophies and the inscription INVICTA MDCCCXLII. The medal was designed by William Wyon RA.

41mm wide, rainbow pattern of red, white, yellow, white and blue.

Steel suspender and clip.

Engraved in script along the edge.


British Battles and Medals for the history of the medal, Dix Noonan Webb for the images used in this post.

Ghuznee Medal - The Earl of Auckland's Medal

Completing a trio of posts which include the actions at Ghuznee in Afghanistan in 1839 is this special Ghuznee Medal presented by the Rt Honourable The Earl of Auckland in his capacity as Governor-General of India.

British Battles and Medals does not indicate how many of these medals were issued, although the infrequency with which they appear at auction suggests that they are scarce. I have been unable to find a suitable image online.

Presumably, officers and men involved in the capture of Ghuznee, Afghanistan in March 1839.

Silver, 41mm diameter. The obverse is similar to the official Ghuznee Medal and was presumably modelled on it. It depicts the fortress of Ghuznee with the British Army entering through the main gate. The reverse has the words AFGHANISTAN - GHUZNEE - 23RD JULY 1839 inscribed on three lines; the whole enclosed within two laurel branches.



Issued unnamed.

See also:

Ghuznee Medal
Candahar, Cabul and Ghuznee Medals

28 August 2011

Ghuznee Medal

Authorised by a General Order dated 23rd November 1842 having been sanctioned by HM Queen Victoria in March 1841.

Officers and men involved in the capture of Ghuznee, Afghanistan in March 1839.

Silver, 37mm diameter. The obverse portrays the fortress of Ghuznee with the word GHUZNEE below. The reverse has the date 23rd July 1839 and a crown within a laurel leaf.

38.5mm wide, half crimson and half green (a change from the originally intended half yellow and half green).

Fixed straight suspender.

Issued unnamed but, as in the image above, examples are found named on the reverse in running script or neat capitals, or engraved along the rim in bold capitals.

No official clasps were issued with this medal but unofficial clasps exist with the following engravings: Ghuznee, Kelat, Mnaher, Montsantonsh, and Ponulla.

Originally to be given in the name of the Shah Shooja but ultimately given on behalf of the Government of India, the Shah having died and the medals having been minted at the Government Mint in Calcutta. A total of 8,371 medals were issued and there are also tin versions of this same award which were worn by sepoys.

Further reading:
For an account of the battle, see britishbattles.com.

British Battles and Medals for the history of the medal, Dix Noonan Webb for the image used in this post.

Candahar, Cabul and Ghuznee Medals

There are four official strikings of this medal and two versions, according to British Battles and Medals, which appear to be mistakes (see 'Other' below). On all strikings, there is a common obverse.

Authorised by a General Order issued in Simla, India on the 4th October 1842.

Awarded to European and Native troops who took part in operations in Candahar, Cabul and Ghuznee between October 1841 and October 1842.

Silver, 36mm diameter. Designed by William Wyon RA, the obverse depicts the diademed head of Queen Victoria and the legend VICTORIA VINDEX. The four separate versions of the reverse are: dealt with below:

i) Candahar
A laurel wreath and crown with the word CANDAHAR and the date 1842 beneath. Of the four versions, this version is the second most rare.

ii) Cabul
A laurel wreath and crown with the word CABUL and the date 1842 beneath. This is the most common of the four versions (but see 'Other' below).

iii) Ghuznee and Cabul
Two laurel wreaths with the word GHUZNEE within one, and the word CABUL within the other. A crown surmounts both wreaths and the date 1842 appears beneath them. This version is the rarest of the four with approximately 360 issued to European troops and 1163 to natives.

iv) Candahar, Ghuznee and Cabul
A laurel wreath and crown with the words CANDAHAR, GHUZNEE and CABUL on separate lines and the date 1842 beneath. This is the second most common of the four versions.

A straight steel suspender fastened by a pin to a steel clip and then fixed to the disc. Other replacement suspensions, such as ring suspenders (see the Cabul image above, for instance) are also commonly seen.

41mm wide; watered rainbow pattern of red, white, yellow, white and blue.

Varied with some in script, some indented capitals and some un-named. British Battles and Medals notes that medals to the 40th Foot and the Artillery are generally found engraved in script, with those to the 41st Foot named in engraved roman capitals.

None, although unofficial clasps for MARZENIA 1842 and TAZEANE 1842 have been found attached to the Cabul Medal.

As well as the four official strikings, there is one striking which has the legend VICTORIA REGINA on the obverse instead of VICTORIA VINDEX. The second 'mistake' refers to the Cabul medal only where CABUL is spelt CABVL. Fifteen of these medals are known to have been issued, making this the rarest of all the versions of this medal.

The photograph of the obverse is courtesy of Spink whilst the four reverse images are courtesy of Dix Noonan Webb. Links on the individual images take you to these companies' websites. British Battles and Medals has, as always, been an invaluable resource in compiling the information.

2 June 2011

Military General Service Medal

Authorised by a General Order dated 1st June 1847 and issued in 1848.

Issued to officers and men who took part in military campaigns between 1793 and 1814.

Silver, 36mm diameter. The obverse portrays the diademed head of Queen Victoria and the legend VICTORIA REGINA with the date 1848. The reverse (see below) depicts Queen Victoria standing on a dais, placing a laurel wreath on the head of a kneeling Duke of Wellington. The inscription, TO THE BRITISH ARMY adorns the top half of the circumference whilst in the exergue are the dates 1793-1814. The designer was W Wyon, Royal Academy.

32mm wide, crimson with 6mm wide dark blue borders.

Plain, straight, swivelling.

In indented large roman capitals.

Twenty-nine, listed below:

Awarded for the actions between 2nd March and 2nd September 1801.

Awarded for the Battle of Maida which was fought on the 4th July 1806.

Awarded for the Battle of Roleia (or Rolica; the correct spelling) which was fought on the 17th August 1808.

Awarded for the Battle of Vimiera which was fought on the 12th August 1808.

Awarded for the cavalry action at Sahagun, Spain on the 21st December 1808. Only twenty single bars were issued, all to officers and men of the 15th Hussars.

Awarded for a further cavalry action at Benevente on the 29th December 1808.

Awarded to officers and men who were present at both battles.

Awarded to the exhausted officers and men who, having retreated from Sahagun under Lieutenant-General Sir John Moore, fought a battle against the French Army on 16th January 1809.

Awarded for the actions on the French-held island of Martinique between 30th January and 24th February 1809.

Awarded to officers and men who took part in the Battle of Talavera on the 27th and 28th July 1809.

Awarded to officers and men who took part in the invasion and capture of the French-held West Indian island of Guadaloupe between 30th January and 4th February 1810.

Awarded for the Battle of Busaco which took place on the 27th September 1810.

Awarded for the Battle of Barrosa which was fought on the 5th March 1811.

Awarded for the Battle of Fuentes D'Onor which was fought on the 5th May 1811.

Awarded for the Battle of Albuhera which was fought on the 16th May 1811.

16. JAVA
Awarded to officers and men who took part in the capture of Java between the 14th and 26th August 1811.

Awarded for the actions at Ciudad Rodrigo between the 8th and 19th January 1812.

Awarded for the desperate actions at Badajoz on the 17th and 18th March 1812.

Awarded to those who took part in the Battle of Salamanca on the 22nd July 1812.

Awarded to officers and men who took part in the capture of Fort Detroit on Lake Erie on the 16th August 1812.

Awarded for the Battle of Vittoria which was fought on the 21st June 1813.

Awarded for the battles of the Pyrenees which took place between 25th July and 2nd August 1813.

Awarded to those officers and men who took part in the capture of the fortress of St Sebastian between 17th July and 8th September 1813.

Awarded for the Battle of Chateauguay in North America which took place on the 26th October 1813.

Awarded to officers and men who took part in the Battle of Nivelle on the 10th November 1813.

Awarded for the Battle of Chrystler's Farm in North America which took place on the 11th November 1813.

27. NIVE
Awarded to officers and men who took part in the Battle of Nive between 9th and 13th December 1813.

Awarded for the Battle of Orthes which took place on the 27th February 1814.

The last clasp granted for this medal was for the Battle of Toulouse which took place on the 10th April 1814.


1. The Military General Service Medal was issued 34 years after the last action which its clasps commemorate. By this time, many of the participants of those battles had been long dead, although medals could be awarded to the next-of-kin.

2. There were over 25,000 applications for medals, fifteen clasps being the most awarded to a single man. Two men received 15 clasps and eleven men received 14.

3. Although the dates inscribed in the medal exergue read 1793-1814, the earliest action commemorated by a clasp is that in Egypt which took place eight years later in 1801.

4. British Battles and Medals gives a full listing of awards by regiment and is an invaluable source.

Multi-clasp image and Badajoz etc courtesy of Dix Noonan Webb. Corunna courtesy of Spink. Talavera reverse and Vittoria and Pyrenees are source unknown. The Medal Yearbook (Token Publishing Ltd) and British Battles & Medals have been essential in putting together the information.

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.

24 March 2011

Yorkshire Regiment number sequences

For anybody with an interest in medals to regular enlistments into the Yorkshire Regiment, I've just posted on my army service numbers blog about numbers issued to members of the 1st and 2nd Battalions between 1881 and 1914. There's also a listing of the battalions' stations between those dates. Click on the link for more.

The medals above were awarded to George A J Welch of the Yorkshire Regiment and later Indian Army Ordnance Corps. Read more about him by clicking on his name.

8 March 2011

Medal Rolls - India Office Library

I know that Ancestry has recently published a number of medal rolls but I just came across this National Archives link which lists medal rolls in the India Office Library.


1 L/MIL/5/42-141
1.1 Summary
2 L/MIL/5/42-44 East India Company's General Service Medal 1799-1826 (Army of India Medal)
3 L/MIL/5/45-65 India General Service Medal 1854
4 L/MIL/5/46-51 North West Frontier 1849-63 and Umbeyla 1863
5 L/MIL/5/52-54 Pegu 1852-53
6 L/MIL/5/55-56 Persia 1856-57
7 L/MIL/5/57-60 Bhootan 1864-66 and Hazara 1868
8 L/MIL/5/61-62 Looshai 1871-72
9 L/MIL/5/63 Jowaki 1877-78
10 L/MIL/5/64 Naga 1879-80
11 L/MIL/5/65 Burma 1885-87
12 L/MIL/5/66 "Marine Medals" 1801-1860
13 L/MIL/5/67 China 1842
14 L/MIL/5/68 Jellalabad 1842 (Second Issue)
15 L/MIL/5/69 Scinde 1843
16 L/MIL/5/70 Sutlej 1845-6
17 L/MIL/5/71-72 Punjab 1848-9
18 L/MIL/5/73-105 Indian Mutiny 1857-8
19 L/MIL/5/106-107 China 1857-60
20 L/MIL/5/108-109 Abyssinia 1867-8
21 L/MIL/5/110-121 Afganistan 1887-79-80
22 L/MIL/5/122-124 Kabul-Kandahar 1880
23 L/MIL/5/125 Egypt 1882
24 L/MIL/5/126 Delhi Durbar 1903
25 L/MIL/5/127 Delhi Durbar 1911
26 L/MIL/5/128-141 Miscellaneous 1845-1911
27 L/MIL/15/1-4 Officers of British Army Regiments in India 1806-1865
28 L/MIL/15/5-12 Officers formerly on the Indian Establishment now belonging to the British Army 1863-1868
29 L/MIL/15/16-19 Royal Engineers' Indian Establishment 1868-1930
30 L/MIL/15/23-26 British Army Transfers to the Indian Establishment 1859-1861
31 L/MIL/15/27-30 Monthly Casualty Returns of the New Line Regiments and Artillery Brigades 1862-1863
32 L/MIL/15/31-36 Nominal and Casualty Rolls of Jager Corps Volunteers 1860-1866
33 L/MIL/15/38-41 Registers of Indian Transports 1860-1873
34 L/MIL/15/42-46 British Troops embarked for India 1871-1889
35 L/MIL/15/47-48 Indian Troop Service Embarkation and Disembarkation Returns 1909-1914

Click HERE for more information.

15 February 2011

Royal Niger Company's Medal


Issued to officers and men of the Company's forces. The medal was issued in silver (above)to Europeans and bronze to to natives for service in the territories adminstered by the Royal Niger chartered company.

39.5mm diameter silver or bronze medal. The obverse portrays the bust of Queen Victoria and the legend VICTORIA REGINA ET IMPERATRIX. The reverse depicts the Company's arms within a laurel wreath.

Three equal stripes of - from left - yellow, black and white.

Fixed, plain.

Silver medals impressed in capitals; bronze medals (below) usually stamped with the receipient's constabulary number.

Two clasps: NIGERIA 1886-1897 (silver) and NIGERIA (bronze).

Both images courtesy of Spink. The Medal Yearbook (Token Publishing Ltd) has been invaluable in putting together the information.

10 January 2011

Turkish Crimea Medal


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

John Samuel Mills - IGS

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.