Africa General Service Medal (1902 - 1956)

Era: 1902 - 1956

The Africa General Service Medal 1902-1956 was sanctioned in 1902, to replace the East and West Africa Medal to which twenty-two bars had been awarded.  It was a campaign medal of the Commonwealth.  It was awarded for minor campaigns in tropical Africa, it was still current in 1914 and nine later clasps were issued.  The medal was never seen or issued without a clasp and some are very rare, most being granted to local forces like the King’s African Rifles.

The medal remained in use for 54 years, the longest running British service Medal.


Materials:      The majority of the British medals 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. These were first made of silk but cotton was increasingly used as the nineteenth century developed.  Their own colours often have a symbolic significance: the equal stripes of the ‘1939 to 1945 Star,’ for example, are dark blue to represent the service of the Royal and Merchant Navies, red, to represent that of the Armies and light blue to represent that of Air Forces.

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

Ribbon – 32mm, Yellow edged with black and with two green stripes towards the centre. (Jokingly called the Colorado beetle)

Africa General Service Medal ribbon
Africa General Service Medal ribbon

Type – Campaign medal

Eligibility – British and African Forces

Awarded for – Campaign Service

Campaign – Africa

Established – 1902

Designer – G. W. De Saulles.

Naming – In thin impressed block capitals

Suspender – Straight (plain)

Clasps – 34 awarded in the reign of Edward VII, 10 awarded in the reign of George V, and only one Elizabeth II

Description – 36mm diameter, Obverse: 1st issue: King Edward VII in uniform, facing left and the legend “EDWARDS VII REX IMPERATOR”, 2ND issue: King George V in military uniform, facing left and the legend: “GEORGE IVS V BRITT: OMN: REX ET IND: IMP” 3RD Issue: Queen Elizabeth II, facing right and the legend: “ELIZABETH. II. DEI. GRATIA. REGINA. F: D+” Reverse: Except for wording in the exergue it is the same as the East and Central Africa medal.  A standing figure of Britannia holding a palm branch and scroll in her extended left hand and trident in her right.  In the exergue is the word “AFRICA”.

The bronze issues are rare, as are medals awarded during the reign of George V. This medal was not issued to British units on the whole, the exception being for the Somaliland campaign between 1902 & 1904 and the campaign against Mau Mau insurgents in Kenya between 1952 & 1956. It was superseded by the General Service Medal 1962


Clasps are commonly, though not strictly correctly, also referred to as ‘bars’.  They are single-faced metal bars carried on a ribbon attached to the medal, indicating 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 borne nearest to the medal, so that the latest earned should be at the top, though they can be found in the wrong order. 

N. Nigeria                                        (July, 1900-Sept, 1901)

Awarded to members of the Northern Nigeria Regiment for service in any of the following operations. (a) operations against the forces of Bida and Kontagora, (b) expedition against the Chief of Tawari, (c) operations against the Emir of Yola.

N. Nigeria                                         (1st Feb – 16th May & 15th Jun – 30th Nov 1902)

            Awarded to members of further expeditions to Bornu.

N. Nigeria                                         (29th Jan – 27th July, 1903)

Awarded for member of an expedition to Kano and Sokoto, and those who operated between Sokoto and Birni.

N. Nigeria 1903-04                             (23rd Dec, 1903 – 12th March, 1904)

            Awarded to members of the Bassa Expedition.

N. Nigeria 1904                                  (Mar – Oct, 1904)

Awarded for services during March, April, July and October, 1904 against small tribes at the head of the Benue River around Yola.

N. Nigeria 1906                                  (14th Feb – 24thApril, 1906)

            Given for service in the suppression of the Satiru Rising.

S. Nigeria                                           (Mar – May, 1901)

Awarded to members of the Southern Nigeria Regiment who took part in the Ishan and Ulia Expedition.

S. Nigeria 1902                                  (15th Jun – 30th Dec, 1902)

Awarded to members of the Sothern Nigeria Regiment who took part in one or more of the seven patrols, which lasted only a few days each.

S. Nigeria 1902-03                              (7th July, 1902 – 8th June, 1903)

Awarded to the Southern Nigeria Regiment for service against the Uris and the people of Omonoha and Ebima.

S. Nigeria 1903                                  (4th Feb – 5th Dec, 1903)

This bar was awarded to members of the Southern Nigeria regiment for the following expeditions: - (a) on the Nun River under Col A. F. Montananaro, (b) in the Eket District between 16th and 25th Sept, (c) in the Mkpani country from 1st to 5th Dec. (d) in the Ebegga country in February, (e) in the country west of Anan in March.

S. Nigeria 1903-04                              (24th Dec, 1903 – 15th Jan 1904)

            Awarded for the expedition to the towns of Osea, Oriri and N’doto.

S. Nigeria 1904                                  (12th Jan – 3rd June, 1904)

            Awarded for five small expeditions between 12th Jan and 3rd June, 1904

S. Nigeria 1904-05                             (15th Nov, 1904 – 27th Feb, 1905)

Awarded to Southern Nigeria Regiment for operations through Ibibio and Kwa Country.

S. Nigeria 1905                                  (10th – 18th Oct, 1905)

Awarded to member of the Southern Nigeria Regiment for operations in the K’wale District.

S. Nigeria 1905-06    

Awarded to officers and men of the columns which concentrated at Bende and Oka and took part in the Onitsha Hinterland Expedition.

East Africa 1902                                  (4th Sept – 25th Oct, 1902)

            Awarded to members who formed the Maruka Patrol.

East Africa 1904                                  (13th Feb – 17th March, 1904)

Awarded to members which operated between 13th Feb and 17th March, 1904

East Africa 1905                                  (31st May – 9th Oct.)

Awarded to member of two expeditions; first between 31st Mayand 12 july,1905; the second between 1st September and 9th October, 1905 to Kisii.

East Africa 1906                                  (18th Jun, 1906 – 19th July, 1906.)

Awarded to members who accompanied Lieut. F W. O. Maycock to the Embo Territory between 18th June and 19th July, 1906

West Africa 1906                                 (9th Jun, 1906 – 17th Feb, 1907)

Awarded to member of the punitive expedition which operated in the Owa Territory between 9th June and 3rd August, 1906

West Africa 1908                                 (11th – 31st December, 1908)

Awarded to members of the Southern Nigeria Regiment who operated in the Sonkwala district between 11th and 31st Dec, 1908.

West Africa 1909-10                            (2nd Dec, 1909 – 27th May, 1910)

Awarded for operations in the Ogwashi-Oku country with the Southern Nigeria Regiment.

Somaliland 1901                                 (22nd May – 30th July, 1901)

Awarded for the first expedition against the Mad Mullah which lasted from 22nd  May to 30th July, 1901.

Somaliland 1902-04                             (18th Jan, 1902 – 11th May, 1904)

Awarded for one of the three operations against the Mad Mullah between 18th Jan, 1902 and 11th May, 1904

Jidballi                                                (10th Jan, 1904)

Awarded to those who took part in the engagement and to those who formed part of the guard left behind during the charge of the baggage.

Somaliland 1908-10                             (19th Aug, 1908 – 31st Jan, 1910)

            Awarded for further services against the rebellious Somalis.

Uganda 1900                                      (3rd July – Oct, 1900)

            This was awarded for operation in the Nandi country.

B.C.A. 1899-1900                                (Aug, 1899 – Dec, 1900.)

This bar was awarded for the following operations: - (a) operations against Nkwamba from Aug to Oct 1899, (b) operations in North Eastern Rhodesia against Kazembe from Sept to November, 1899. (c) operations in central Agoniland, against Kalulu in December 1900.

Jubaland                                            (16th Nov, 1900 – 30th Apr, 1901)

This is a scares bar awarded for service against the Ogaden Somalis, including military forces at Kismayu and to officers and men of the Royal Navy and Marines who landed to supplement the garrison at Kismayu between 16th November, 1900 and 30th April, 1901.

Gambia                                              (Jan – Mar, 1901.)

This was awarded to those who took part in operations under Lieut.-Colonel H. E. J. Brake who were under fire in actions at Dumbutu on 11th January, 1901.

Aro                                                     (15th Nov, 1901 – 23rd Mar, 1902)

Awarded for with Aro expedition Forces under Lieut. Colonel A. F. Montanaro.

Lango 1901                                         (24th Apr – 24th Aug, 1901)

This bar was awarded to member of a punitive expedition under Major C. Delme-Radcliffe, Connaught Rangers, against Sudanese mutineers between 24th April and 24th August, 1901.

Kissi 1905                                            (27th Mar – 28th June, 1905)

This rare bar was awarded to member of the Sierra Leone Bn who operated in the Kissi Country between 27th March and 28th June, 1905.

Nandi 1905-06                                    (18th Oct, 1905 – 6th July, 1906)

            Rare bar issued for service in Nandi Country.

Shimber Berris 1914                           (19th Nov, 1914 – 9th Feb, 1915.)

Awarded for two small campaigns against Dervishes from 19th to 25th November, 1914 and again from 2nd to 9th February, 1915.

Nyasaland 1915                                  (24th Jan – 17th Feb, 1915.)

This bar was awarded to a few members of the 1st King’s African Rifles and native policeman from Blantyre and Nchew, who quelled a small rising in the Shire Highlands between 24th January and 17th February, 1915.

East Africa 1913                                  (17th June – 7th Aug, 1913.)

This bar was awarded for operations against the Dodingas between June and August, 1913.

East Africa 1914                                  (2nd Apr – 7th July, 1914.)

This bar was awarded for a punitive expedition against the Turkhana Tribe.

East Africa 1913-14                             (15th Dec, 1913 – 31st May, 1914.)

This bar was awarded for operations against the Merehan Tribes between 15th December, 1913 and 31st May, 1914.

East Africa 1915                                  (4th Feb – 28th Marc, 1915.)

This bar was awarded for an expedition against the Turkhanas between 4th February and 28th May, 1915.

Jubaland 1917-18                               (23rd July, 1917 – 24th Mar, 1918.)

This bar was awarded for military operations against the Northern Aulihan tribe west of the Juba River.

East Africa 1918                                 (20th Apr – 19th June, 1918.)

This bar, sanctioned by Army order No.460 of 1924, was awarded for operations against the Northern Turkhana, Marille, Donyiro and kindred tribes in the vicinity of the southern boundary.

Nigeria 1918                                       (11th June – 31st July, 1918)

Awarded under Army Order No. 460of 1924, for services against the Egba tribe in the area of the Nigerian Government Railway from Abeokuta in the North to Lagos in the South.

Somaliland 1920                                (21st Jan – 12th Feb, 1920)

Awarded for the fifth and final expedition against the Mad Mullah.  The Bar “ Somaliland, 1901,” was awarded for the first expedition, that worded “Somaliland 1902-04” for the second, third and fourth expeditions.


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

< Africa_General_Service_Medal >

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