Christopher Trevelyan © King-Emperor.com 2003-2016 | Trevelyan@king-emperor.com

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The Indian Army on campaign 1900-1939

Campaign Medals

The following medals were issued to Indian Army Officers and Other Ranks for service in military campaigns between 1908 and 1962, including the Great War. Each medal was individually named to the recipient who qualified for them, whether he was a Major-General or Lance-Naik. As a result, every medal is unique, and this allows for an unparalleled opportunity to uncover and understand the lives and careers of these medal who fought and died so long ago.






The 1908 India General Service Medal was awarded for service in military operations in and around India between 1908 and 1935. The medal was not however, awarded for service during the Great War 1914-1918. A total of twelve different clasps were issued, and the medal was never awarded without at least one clasp. This silver medal had three different obverses. The first featured the bust of King Edward VII and was only issued with the North West Frontier 1908 clasp (though a recipient could qualify for and receive additional clasps later on). The second featured the crowned bust of King George V and had a legend that read 'GEORGIVS V KAISAR-I-HIND'. It was issued with the clasps from Abor 1911-12 through to Waziristan 1925. The third obverse again featured a crowned King George V, but had a legend that read 'GEORGIVS V D G BRITT OMN REX ET INDIAE IMP'. It was issued with the final three clasps awarded for service in the 1930's. The reverse remained the same throughout, and featured the Fort of Jamrud in the Khyber Pass. A Bronze version of the Edward VII North West Frontier 1908 medal was issued to followers, but the medal was only awarded in silver thereafter. Medals can have up to five or six clasps. The most common method of clasp attachment was through the use of fairly crude rivets, but clasps can also be found attached with wire, string or simply slid on, without any attachment at all. The ribbon has one dark blue centre stripe with two slightly thinner green stripes to either side.


          The medal was minted by both the Royal Mint in London, and the Calcutta Mint in India. The principal difference between the two is the claw design, with the Royal Mint design being somewhat more ornate. The Calcutta Mint issue was awarded to recipients in both the British and Indian Army, while the Royal Mint issued was awarded to both as well; the deciding factor being the location of the recipient at the time of issue (A British Regiment that qualified for an IGS medal but had since returned to England would receive the Royal Mint issue, but if the Regiment continued to be stationed in India, it would receive the Calcutta Mint issue). An IGS recipient who received a Mention in Dispatches after 11th August 1920 was permitted to wear a bronze oakleaf emblem on the ribbon.


          The naming on the first two clasps, North West Frontier 1908 and Abor 1911-12, should be engraved in script. All medals thereafter were named in impressed capitals. All 1908 India General Service Medals to British Officers, including those serving in the India Army, as well as Indian Officers, gives the recipient's rank, name and regiment or corps. Medals to British or Indian other ranks give the recipient's regimental number, rank, name and regiment or corps. For the Royal Artillery, medals with the North West Frontier 1908 clasp will give the specific battery, while those from the Afghanistan NWF 1919 clasp on simply list the corps. The exception being Indian Mountain Batteries and some British Mountain Batteries, which gives the specific battery number.


          The following is a very brief breakdown of each clasp issued with this medal:


NORTH WEST FRONTIER 1908


          This clasp was awarded for service in the Zakka Khel and or Mohmand punitive expeditions on the North-West Frontier of India in 1908.


ABOR 1911-12


          This clasp was awarded for service against the Abor tribe in North-East India between 6th October 1911 and 20th April 1912.


AFGHANISTAN N.W.F. 1919


          This clasp, the most common issued, was awarded for service during the Third Afghan War from 6th May to 8th August 1919. The war began when Afghan regulars with some tribal support launched a tepid invasion of India.


MAHSUD 1919-20


          The Third Afghan War set the Frontier alight, with no tribe being more dangerous than the Mahsuds. This clasp was awarded for service in the Mahsud punitive Derajat Column under Major-General Skeen between 19th December 1919 and 8th April 1920. This clasp is usually found with the Waziristan 1919-21 clasp, though examples of India General Service Medals with the Mahsud clasp alone are not uncommon.


WAZIRISTAN 1919-21


         This clasp was awarded for service against the Tochi Waziris, Wana Waziris and Mahsuds on the North-West Frontier between May 1919 and January 1921. It is often found with the Mahsud clasp, but can also be found singly for service in the Tochi Column, Derajat Column lines of communications work, and other service in Waziristan.


MALABAR 1921-22


          This clasp was awarded for service in putting down the Moplah Rebellion in Malabar, Western India, between 20th August 1921 and 25th February 1922.


WAZIRISTAN 1921-24


          This clasp was awarded for service in establishing the Razmak and Wana Cantonments, and undertaking extensive road building projects throughout Waziristan between 21st December, 1921 and 31st March, 1924. These operations were part of the new Forward Policy, which sought to reduce and eventually eliminate tribal uprisings and tribal raiding into the settled districts by stationing regular troops inside Waziristan, which would then allow for an immediate response to any fledgling rebellion.


WAZIRISTAN 1925


          This very scarce clasp was awarded to the Royal Air Force only for punitive operations in Waziristan between 9th March and 1st May 1925. Only forty-seven officers and two hundred and fourteen airmen received this clasp.


NORTH WEST FRONTIER 1930-31


          This clasp was awarded for service during the Red Shirt and Afridi Rebellions on the North-West Frontier of India between 23rd April 1930 and 22nd March 1931. While the Afridi uprising was a traditional Frontier tribal revolt, the Red Shirt Rebellion was essentially political in nature, inspired by the Indian Independence movement unfolding in the rest of British India. As such, it was a first for the Frontier.


BURMA 1930-32


          This clasp was awarded for service during the Saya San Rebellion between 22nd December 1930 and 25th March 1932.


MOHMAND 1933


          This clasp was awarded for service in the punitive Mohmand Column, commanded by Brigadier Claude Auckinleck, between 29th July and 3rd October 1933.


NORTH WEST FRONTIER 1935


          This clasp was awarded for service in punitive operations against the Mohmands between 12th January and 3rd November 1935. Captain G.Meynell of the 5/12 Frontier Force Regiment (Guides)  was awarded a posthumous Victoria Cross during the campaign.




India General Service Medal 1908-1935




The 1914 Star was awarded to all those who served in France and Belgium bet ween 5th August, 1914 and 22nd November 1914. The Star is made of bronze, and the ribbon is made up of equal watered red, white and blue vertical stripes. Recipients of the 1914 Star automatically qualified for the British War Medal and Victory Medal, and as such the 1914 Star was never awarded singly. There was one clasp awarded to those who had come under fire during the qualifying period. This bronze clasp was sewn onto the ribbon, and reads '5th AUG-22nd NOV. 1914'. The Star was named in impressed capitals on the reverse. Unlike the British War Medal and Victory Medal, 1914 Stars to officers list the regiment or corps as part of the impressed naming. The majority of the recipients were officers and men of the regular pre-war British Army, but two Indian Divisions and a Cavalry Brigade had also arrived in France by September-October 1914. Roughly 378,000 1914 Stars were issued in total.


       The 1914-15 Star was awarded to all those who served in a theatre of war between 5th August 1914 and 31st December 1915 and who did not qualify for the 1914 Star. In addition, the 1914-15 Star was not granted to those who were awarded the Africa General Service Medal or 1910 Sudan Medal for service during this period, and who did not see additional service in a theatre for which the 1914-15 Star was issued (In other words, the Africa General Service Medal or 1910 Sudan Medal were awarded instead of the 1914-15 Star for those few campaigns that qualified for either African Medal. If the recipient of either then saw service in Mesopotamia for example before 15th December 1915, then they would also qualify for a 1914-15 Star ). Like the 1914 Star, recipients of the 1914-15 Star automatically qualified for the British War Medal and Victory Medal, and as such the 1915-15 Star was never awarded singly. There were no clasps issued for the 1914-15 Star.


          In total, 2,350,000 were issued to the forces of Great Britain, the Commonwealth and Empire. The Star is made of bronze, and the ribbon is identical to the 1914 Star, which is watered red, white and blue vertical stripes. Naming styles vary considerably, but should all be in impressed capitals on the reverse. Indian Army 1914-15 Stars including those issued to British Officers of the Indian Army, were produced by the Calcutta Mint, and as such are slightly different from those minted in London. The most noticeable difference being that the reverse of Calcutta 1914-15 Stars are completely flat, including the reverse of the suspender ring at the top, while the suspender ring on 1914-15 Star from London are completely rounded even on their the reverse.  


    


1914 & 1914-15 Star




The British War Medal was issued to everyone who served in a British, Commonwealth or Imperial military formation and in certain recognized volunteer organizations during the Great War 1914-1918. A few were also issued for service in Russia between 1919-1920 and mine clearing operations between 11th November 1918 and 30th November 1919. The British War Medal is usually paired with the Victory Medal, but it was also awarded singly to anyone who met the minimum qualifications and did not see fighting. It is not uncommon to find such single British War Medals issued to officers and men who served in India throughout the war, but never went abroad or fought on the Frontier prior to November 1918. Some of these single British War Medals can be found paired with 1908 India General Service Medals with the Afghanistan NWF 1919 clasp, as many regiments stationed in India throughout World War I saw service in the Third Afghan War. In total, roughly 6,500,000 silver British War Medals and 110,000 Bronze British War Medals were issued; the latter to various Chinese, Maltese and other Labour Corps. It is important to note that although over six million were originally issued, millions have since been lost, damaged, destroyed and melted down for silver content. The ribbon has one large orange stripe flanked on either side by one white, one thin black, and one blue stripe. No clasps were issued for the British War Medal.


          The naming is in small impressed capitals around the rim. The naming on British War Medals to British Officers, including British Officers in the India Army, gives only the recipient's rank, initials and family name. The naming on BWM's to Indian Officers gives the recipient's rank and name, and often also a regimental number and or the recipient's battalion or unit. The naming on BWM's to British other ranks gives the recipient's regimental number, rank, initials, family name, and regiment. It is important to note that although the regiment is given on the medal, the specific battalion is not, and as most regiments formed twenty, thirty, or even more battalions, the appropriate medal roll must be sought to determine which battalion the recipients served in. The naming on BWM's to Indian other ranks gives the recipient's regimental number, rank, name and regiment/battalion. Most Indian Army Regiments only formed second or third battalions during 1917 and 1918, and unlike the naming on medals to British other ranks, this information is often part of the naming. For example, a medal will be impressed '32 Sikhs' or '1-32 Sikhs' for the pre-war battalion, and '2-32 Sikhs' for the war raised second battalion of the 32nd Sikhs.  




     


British War Medal 1914-1920




The Victory Medal was awarded for service in any theatre of war between 5th August 1914 and 11th November 1918. It was automatically awarded to everyone who received either the 1914 Star or 1914-15 Star, and most of those who received the British War Medal also received the Victory Medal. It was never awarded singly. Those who were Mention in Dispatches between 4th August 1914 and 10th August 1920 were allowed to wear an oak leaf emblem on the ribbon of their Victory Medal. The South African Version has the reverse text in both English and Dutch. The medal is bronze, and the ribbon is a watered rainbow with red, yellow, green, blue and violet emanating outwards to either side. Roughly 5,750,000 were issued to recipients of Great Britain, the Commonwealth and Empire. In addition, many allied nations produced their own version of the Victory Medal with the same ribbon but medal differences.


          The Victory Medal was named in small impressed capitals along the rim. The same notes on naming given for the British War Medal above apply equally to the Victory Medal.


         In total, 2,350,000 were issued to the forces of Great Britain, the Commonwealth and Empire. The Star is made of bronze, and the ribbon is identical to the 1914 Star, which is watered red, white and blue vertical stripes. Naming styles vary considerably, but should all be in impressed capitals on the reverse. Indian Army 1914-15 Stars including those issued to British Officers of the Indian Army, were produced by the Calcutta Mint, and as such are slightly different from those minted in London. The most noticeable difference being that the reverse of Calcutta 1914-15 Stars are completely flat, including the reverse of the suspender ring at the top, while the suspender ring on 1914-15 Star from London are completely rounded even on their the reverse.  


    


Victory Medal 1914-1918




The British The 1918 General Service Medal was awarded for service in numerous campaigns outside of Africa and India, between the years 1918 and 1962. A total of sixteen clasps were issued, and this silver medal could not be awarded without at least one clasp. The ribbon and reverse remained constant during its forty-four years of issue, but it had six different obverses; two each of King George V, King George VI and Queen Elizabeth II. The ribbon has two dark purple vertical stripes with a slightly narrower green vertical stripe in the centre. Naming is in small impressed capitals. 1918 General Service Medals named to British Officers included rank and name only. 1918 GSM's to Indian Officers include rank, name and sometimes the regiment or unit. 1918 GSM's to British and Indian other ranks include service number, rank, name and regiment or unit.  


        Of the sixteen clasps issued, only S.Persia, Kurdistan, Iraq, N.W.Persia, and S.E.Asia 1945-46 were awarded to the Indian Army in any numbers, while the Malaya clasp was issued to all eight Gurkha battalions of the British post Indian Army Brigade of Gurkhas.


S.PERSIA


This clasp was awarded for service in Southern Persia immediately following the conclusion of the Great War, with the qualifying dates being between 12th November 1918 and 22nd June 1919.


KURDISTAN


This clasp was awarded for service during two different periods. The first was for operations against Kurdish tribesmen in the immediate aftermath of the Great War, from 23rd May 1919 to the 6th December 1919. The second covered the series of operations against the Kurdish chief Sheik Mahmoud, from 19th March 1923 to 18th June 1923.


IRAQ


This clasp was awarded for service in the Iraq Uprising, from 10th December 1919 to 17th November 1920. The is the most common of the pre-World War Two clasps, and also involved the most fighting.


N.W.PERSIA


This clasp was awarded for service in North-West Persia between 10th August 1920 to 31st December 1920.


SOUTHERN DESERT: IRAQ


This scarce clasp was awarded for RAF Operations in Iraq between 8th January 1928 and 3rd June 1928. It was only awarded to the Royal Air Force; 30, 55, 70 and 84 Squadrons being present.


NORTHERN KURDISTAN


This scarce clasp was awarded for service against Sheik Admed in northern Iraq / Kurdistan between 15th March 1932 and 21st June 1932. It was only awarded to Iraq Levies and the RAF; 30, 55 and 70 Squadrons being present.


PALESTINE


This fairly common clasp was awarded for service quelling the Arab Revolt in the Palestinian Mandate between 19th April 1936 and 3rd September 1939. The Indian Army was not involved.


S.E. ASIA 1945-46


This clasp was awarded for service in Java and Sumatra between 3rd September 1945 and 30th November 1946, and French Indo-China between 3rd September 1945 and 28th January 1946. A significant number of Indian units received this medal, both named and un-named, and it was the last campaign medal issued to the Indian Army during the British Raj.


BOMB AND MINE CLEARANCE 1945-49


This clasp was awarded for service in clearing mines and bombs from the United Kingdom and Northern Ireland between 9th May 1945 and 31st December 1949.


BOMB AND MINE CLEARANCE 1945-56


In May 1956, the qualifying period for the previous clasp was extended to include service in similar operations in the Mediterranean.


PALESTINE 1945-48


This clasp was awarded for service in Palestine between 27th September 1945 and 30th June 1948 during the troubles that led to the creation of the state of Israel.


MALAYA


This clasp was awarded for operations against communist guerillas between 16th June 1948 and 31st June 1960. Service in Singapore between 16th June 1948 and 31st January 1959 also qualified for this clasp. No longer part of the Indian Army, the eight battalions of Britain's Brigade of Gurkhas played the critical role in these operations.


OTHER CLASPS


Cyprus, Near East, Arabian Peninsular, Brunei.


 



     


General Service Medal 1918-1962




The 1936 India General Service Medal replaced the 1908-35 India General Service Medal, and was awarded for service in Waziristan on the North-West Frontier of India between 1936 and 1939. The obverse featured the bust of the recently crowned King George VI, while the reverse feature a Tiger superimposed upon a mountain range with the word INDIA below. Only two clasps were issued, and the medal could not be awarded without at least one clasp. Like the 1908-35 India General Service Medal, the 1936 IGS was produced by both the Royal Mint and Calcutta Mint, with the chief difference being the claw. The naming is in impressed capitals, and continue the same naming patterns of the previous India General Service Medal. The ribbon has a wide centre gray stripe, flanked by two very thin red stripes and two green stripes. Recipients who were Mentioned in Dispatches were permitted to wear a bronze oakleaf emblem on the ribbon. The following is a very brief breakdown of the two clasp issued with this medal:




NORTH WEST FRONTIER 1936-37


This clasp was issued for service in operations largely against the Fakir of Ipi in Waziristan between 24th November 1936 and 16th December 1937.  


NORTH WEST FRONTIER 1937-39


This clasp was issued for continued service in operations largely against the Fakir of Ipi in Waziristan between 16th December 1937 and 31st December 1939.





     


India General Service Medal 1936-1939