Afghanistan Medal (1870 – 80)

Era: 1870 - 1880

Instituted on the 19th March, 1881 to those who served in the Second Afghan War 1878 – 1880, the first being from the year 1839 -1842. It was awarded for military actions involving British Army and local Indian units in Afghanistan.

In 1877 the Amir refused to accept a British resident and the following year raised an army which began harassing the Indian frontier. A treaty with Russia, however, granting it protective rights in Afghanistan, precipitated an armed response from Britain. In 1880 General Roberts led a column from Kabul to Kandahar to relieve General Burrows and the resulting battle led to the defeat of the Afghans and the conclusion of the war. The soldiers who took part in this march were also awarded the Kabul to Kandahar Star.


Materials:      The majority of the British medal and clasps are made of solid silver, though some were issue in bronze versions, mainly to Indian non combatants.  The majority of the British campaign awards are circular, usually 36mm in diameter.

Ribbons:         Medals are worn suspended from their own specific ribbons (or Ribands). These where first made of silk but cotton was increasingly used as the ninetieth century progressed.  Their own colours often have a symbolic significance: the blue and white strips of the Egypt medal, for example, are said to signify the blue and white Niles, while the red and green ribbon of the Second Afghan War shows the heraldic colours of Great Britain and of Islam.

Ribbon width can vary slightly though it is generally 32mm wide

Ribbon – 33mm, dark green with broad crimson edges.

Afghanistan Medal ribbon
Afghanistan Medal ribbon

Type – Campaign medal

Eligibility – British and Indian forces

Awarded for – Campaign service.

Campaign –   Afghanistan 1878–1880

Established – 19th March, 1881

Suspender - Plain suspender which is attached to the medal with a double toe claw          

Naming – Engraved in upright or sloping serif capitals. Also for Indian units it was found in running script or impressed serif capitals

Clasps – Six issued, though no more than four could be earned by any one man.

Description - A circular medal, made from silver (or, in rare cases, bronze), 1.52 inches (36 mm) in diameter. The obverse shows a veiled effigy of Queen Victoria, facing left, with "VICTORIA REGINA ET IMPERATRIX" around the edge. The reverse shows marching and mounted soldiers with arms with an elephant carrying a cannon passing a hill fort. In the upper-left of the medal around the edges is "AFGHANISTAN" and on the bottom in a straight line is "1878-79-80"

Clasps are usually referred to as ‘bars’.  They are single-faced metal bars carried on a ribbon attached to the medal, indicating the recipient’s service in a particular campaign or battle.  The clasps carry side flanges to enable them to be attached to the medal and riveted to each other, so that new ones can be attached as earned.  Usually the first earned Clasp is closest to the medal, so that the latest earned should be at the top, although they can be found in the wrong order. 

ALI MUSJID                                                                                           (21st November 1878)

PEIWAR KOTAL                                                                                      (2nd December 1878)

CHARASIA                                                                                                  (6th October 1879)

KABUL                                                                                         (10th - 23rd December 1879)

Operations around Kabul and defence of Sherpur Dec 1879

AHMED KHEL                                                                                                (19th April 1880)

KANDAHAR                                                                                            (1st September 1880)


This guide will help you through all the parts and descriptions of military medals


Major L L Gordon ‘British Battles and Medals’


Some of the material on this page was also partially derived from

< Afghanistan Medal >

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