Baltic Medal (1856)

Era: 1856

Approval for the issue of this medal was given on 23rd April, 1856, after a Fleet Review at Spithead by Queen Victoria. The medal was minted in two different thicknesses and with two different types of claws, one plain, and the other more ornate at the suspension top. It was an award for services in the Baltic under Admiral Sir Charles Napier and Rear-Admiral the Hon. R. Dundas, for officers and men of the Royal Navy from March 1854 until the blockade was lifted in 1855.  It was also awarded to 106 men or the Royal Sappers and Miners for their work in the demolition of Russian fortifications at Bomarsund and Sveaborg.

The Crimean war is remembered for the fighting in the Black Sea area, though there were several naval engagements in the Baltic Sea between the Anglo-French and Russian forces. Admiral Napier entered the Baltic in March, 1854, attacking the forts at Hango Head, and later making an attack on Cronstadt, with the French Fleet under the command of Admiral Dechasnes.   In august, 1855 Bomarsund was attacked, with Sappers and Miners landing ashore to place demolition charges against the forts, which later surrendered on the 16th august 1855.

Specially constructed mortar and rocket boats were used in the attacks on Helsingfors and Sveaborg.  After the destruction of Helsingfors the fleet withdrew from the Baltic seas in December, 1855.

The following ships were present in this campaign - The flagship Duke of Wellington and Ajax, Alban, Amphion, Archer, Arrogant, Basilisk, Belleisle (Hospital Ship), Blenheim, Boscawen, Bulldog, Caesar, Calcutta, Conflict, Cornwallis, Colossus, Cossack, Cressy, Cruiser, Cumberland, Dauntless, Desperate, Dragon, Driver, Edinburgh, Eolus, Esk, Eurylus, Eurydice, Exmouth, Falcon, Forte, Geyser, Harrier, Hastings, Hawke, Hecla, Hogue, Imperieuse, James Watt, Leopard, Lightning, Locust, Magicienne, Majestic, Merlin, Miranda, Monarch, Neptune, Nile, Odin, Orion, Pembroke, Pique, Porcupine, President, Prince, Regent, Princess Alice, Princess Royal, Pylades, Retribution, Rosamund, Royal George, Russel , Saint George, St.Jean d’ Acre, Tartan, Valorous, Virago, Volcano, Vulture.

Also the following vessels and mortar ships were present and took part in the attack on Sveaborg – Badger, Beacon, Biter, Blazer, Carron, Dapper, Drake, Growler, Havock, Lark, Magpie, Manly, Mastiff, Pelter, Pickle, Pincher, Porpoise, Prompt, Redbreast, Redwing, Sinbad, Skylark, Snap, Snapper, Starling, Stork and Weasel.


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 wide with yellow centre and light blue edges.

Baltic Medal ribbon
Baltic Medal ribbon

Type – Campaign Medal.

Eligibility – Royal Navy, Royal Marines, Royal Sappers and Miners.

Awarded for – Campaign service.

Campaign – Baltic theatre of the Crimean War.

Established – 23rd April, 1856

Designer – Obverse: W. Wyon, R,A.  Reverse: L.C. Wyon

Suspension – An ornamental swivelling suspender.

Naming – Issued unnamed except for the Royal Sappers and Miners.  Many recipients had the medals engraved at their own expense, usually including the name of the ship on which they served

Clasps – None issued

Description – The Baltic Medal is a silver disk, 36mm in diameter, the obverse show the diademed head of Queen Victoria and the legend “VICTORIA REGINA.”  The reverse of the medal is the seated figure of Britannia holding a trident in her right hand and looking over her left shoulder.  Behind her are the Russian fortress of Bormarsund and Sveaborg, while in the foreground is a naval cannon with a pyramid of shot.  Around the top is the word “BALTIC.” And the dates “1854-1855” appear in the exergue.


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


Major L L Gordon ‘British Battles and Medals’

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