Ghuznee Medal

Established in 1839 the Ghuznee Medal was a campaign medal awarded to British troops for the participation in the storming of the fortress of Ghuznee in Afghanistan.  This took place in the First Anglo-Afghan war on 21st to 23rd July, 1839 for the Battle of Ghazni.

The Ghuznee Medal was the second medal awarded to all ranks of the British Army for a specific campaign, the first being the Waterloo Medal.

The medal was struck on the orders of the Shah of Afghanistan, Shaja Shah Durrani in 1839, to show his appreciation to the British forces that had restored him to his throne.


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 – 35mm wide with two equal stripes of crimson and dark green, the green half being to the right when facing the wearer. (Originally green and yellow ribbon).

Original type Ghuznee medal ribbon
Original type Ghuznee medal ribbon
Ghuznee Medal ribbon
Ghuznee Medal ribbon

Type – Campaign Medal

Eligibility – British Army

Awarded for – Campaign service

Campaign – Ghuznee 1839

Established – 1839

Designer – The medal was designed by a committee.  The dies were engraved and the medals struck at the Calcutta Mint.

Naming – The medal was issued unnamed but many were later privately engraved, found in various ways as follows:

  1. Engraved in neat capitals in the field.  2. Engraved in running hand in the field.  3.  Engraved in large capital letters on the rim.  4.  In the case there is no naming on the piece, but attached to the ribbon is a buckle with three flat bars.  On the upper one is the word “AFGHANISTAN”, on the centre one the recipient’s name, on the lower bar is the wording “GHUZNEE & KELATT”.  In the case of the 17th Foot, Officers medals were named in the field.

Total Awarded – 239 medals were issued to Europeans and 8,132 to native troops.

Suspension – Straight; the ribbon passes through a plain straight suspender fixed to the top of the piece.

Clasps – None issued.

Description - The obverse of the medal depicts the Fortress of Ghuznee with the word “GHUZNEE” below.  The reverse of the medal is the recipient’s name above a mural crown, at the top is the date “23RD JULY” and at the bottom is the year “1839”.   The whole is surrounded by two laurel wreaths.

Two separate dies exist for this medal with one having a wider border around the edge than the other. The second also has a narrower and taller fortress.

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

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