The Crimea Medal was a campaign medal that was established on the 15th December, 1854 for award to British units land and Navy (and some French Forces) that took part in the campaign against the Russians on the Crimean peninsula and the surrounding waters from 28th March, 1854 to 30th March, 1856.
The medal is notable for its ornate clasps being in the form of an oak leaf with an acorn attached to each end, a style never used again on a British medal. The suspension is unique to this medal also with an ornate floriated swivelling suspender.
With this medal being presented to members of the allied French Forces. These medals, in addition to the five British clasps, were often issued with unauthorised French bars; Traktir, Tchernaia, Mer d'Azoff, and Malakof.
The medal was awarded with the British version of the Turkish Crimean War medal, but when a consignment of these was lost at sea some troops were issued with the Sardinian version instead.
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 – 32mm pale blue with yellow edges.
Type – Campaign Medal.
Awarded for – Campaign Service.
Campaign – Crimean War.
Clasps – five issued.
Description – Silver Disk, 36mm diameter.
Eligibility – British Forces and some Allied French Forces.
Designers – Obverse: W. Wyon R.A. Reverse: B. Wyon
Suspension – Ornate and by means of a foliated suspender peculiar to this medal.
Naming - The medals were originally issued unnamed, but could be returned for naming free of charge. Those which were officially named were done in indented square or engraved capitals.
In Silver, 36mm diameter with an ornate swivelling suspender. Obverse, the diademed head of Queen Victoria and the legend ‘VICTORIA REGINA’ and the ‘1854’. Reverse, the standing figure of a Roman warrior holding a sword in his right hand and a circular shield in front of him with his left whilst being crowned by a small winged figure of Victory. The world “Crimea” is written on the left.
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.
This medal has a total of five clasps which commemorate the various actions. (and authorisation date in brackets).
Alma 20th September 1854 (authorisation date15th December 1854)
Balaklava 25th October 1854 (authorisation date 23rd February 1855)
Inkermann 5th November 1854 (authorisation date 15th December 1854)
Sebastopol 11th Sept 1854 -9th Sept 1855 (authorisation date 13th October 1855)
Azoff 25th May – 22nd September 1855 (authorisation date 2nd May 1856)
The latter bar was only issued to Naval and Marine personnel who served in the Sea of Azoff. The maximum number of bars awarded to any one individual was four. The oak leaf and acorn pattern of the bar is unique to this medal. The correct order of wearing the bars is in date order from the bottom upwards.
The medal and the two clasps ‘Alma’ and ‘Inkermann’ being instituted on the same day.
Over 93,000 French troops served in this campaign and Napoleon III accepted the award of the Crimea Medal to his troops by decree dated 26th April, 1856. At least two unofficial local French strikings of the Crimea medal also exist.
- The Wyon signature omitted but with the initials “E.F”. Next to the 1854 date.
- Obverse unsigned and undated.
Unofficial French bars in the same design as the official models exist: TRAKTIR, TCHERNAIA, MALAKOF, KINNBURN, MER d’AZOFF, MOULIN (with possible variants: KINBURM, MOULIN VERT, MALAKOFF).
Major L L Gordon ‘British Battles and Medals’
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