The Military General Service Medal (MGSM) was a campaign medal approved in 1847, for issue to officers and men of the British Army.
The MGSM was approved on 1 June 1847 as a retrospective award for various military actions from 1793–1814; a period encompassing the French Revolutionary Wars, the Napoleonic Wars, and the Anglo-American War of 1812. Each battle or action covered by the medal was represented by a clasp on the ribbon; twenty-nine were sanctioned and the maximum awarded to one man was fifteen.
The medal was never issued without a clasp.
The 5th Duke of Richmond, who had fought at Waterloo, was chiefly responsible for the belated institution of the Military General Service Medal for all survivors of the campaigns between 1793 and 1814. (There had only hitherto been a Waterloo Medal). He campaigned in Parliament and also enlisted the interest of Queen Victoria, who persuaded a curiously reluctant Duke of Wellington that junior and non-commissioned officers and private soldiers deserved this recognition.
Senior officers had received the Army Gold Medal thirty years before.
A point to note is that the medal was only awarded to surviving claimants; one had both to have survived until 1847 and then to actively apply for it. A combination of factors, from general illiteracy to limited publicity for the new medal meant that many did not. There are substantially fewer medals issued compared with the number of men who served during this period.
The medal was awarded only to surviving claimants; next of kin could not apply for a medal on behalf of a deceased relative. However, the medal was awarded to next of kin of those claimants who had died between the date of their application and the date of presentation. There were some 25,952 applications in total.
This medal and its naval counterpart, the Naval General Service Medal, were amongst the first real British campaign medals, the first to be issued to all ranks just for "being there". An earlier Army Gold Medal had been awarded to field officers for their successful commands; they were not eligible to claim identical claps on the MGSM. To distinguish between the two medals, the MGSM was referred to as the "silver medal".
Please be aware that due to the way we collate, and cross reference our databases, some records will contain more information than that listed above.
Original Source: WO100/xxx (where xxx is the individual regiment reference)