Indian General Service Medal 1854 - 1895

Era: 1854 - 1895

The Indian General Service Medal (1854 IGSM) was instituted 22nd December, 1853 after the Pegu (Burma) campaign, but the geographic range covered by this medal is much larger, including Malaya, North West Frontier and Persia. The award was issued to officers and men of the British, Indian armies and native support personnel. 

The 1854 IGSM was approved on 1st March, 1854.  It was awarded for various minor military campaigns in India, during 1852 to 1895.  Each battle or action covered by the medal was repeated by a clasp on the ribbon, with a total of twenty four being sanctioned, with the maximum awarded top one man is thought to be seven.  The medal was never issued without a clasp and unfortunately many medals found the bars/clasps in the wrong order.

The medal was initially awarded in silver to all ranks, however, starting from 1885 (with the Burma 1885–7 bar) both medal and clasp were issued in bronze to native support personnel such as bearers, drivers and sweepers.

Description:

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 – Crimson with two dark blue stripes

India General Service Medal ribbon
India General Service Medal ribbon

Type – Campaign medal

Awarded for – Campaign services

Campaign – India 1852 - 1895

Clasps – twenty four sanctioned.

Description – Silver or bronze disk, 36mm diameter

Eligibility – British and Indian Forces.

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

Suspension – Ornate and by means of a floriated swivelling suspender.  The rivets at the junction of the suspender and clasp are covered by a rosette, and the junctions of all bars are similar covered.

Naming – This will be given against each bar as it varies considerably.

Description - 36mm diameter circular medal in silver or bronze.  Obverse – the diademed head of Queen Victoria and the legend “VICTORIA REGINA”. Reverse depicts the winged figure of Victory crowning a seated warrior with a wreath.

Clasps:

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. 

PEGU                                                 28th March 1852 – 30th June 1853 (Impressed in small serfif capitals).

PERSIA                                             5th December 1856 – 8th February 1857 (Impressed in small capitals)

NORTH WEST FRONTIER                  3rd December 1849 – 22nd October 1868 (Impressed small serif capitals)

UMBEYLA                                         20th October – 23rd December 1863 (Impressed small serif capitals)

BHOOTAN                                         December 1864 – February 1866 (Impressed serif capitals)

LOOSHAI                                          9th December 1871 – 20th February 1872(engraved thin running script)

PERAK                                              2nd November 1875 – 20th March 1876 (Impressed serif capitals)

NAGA 1879-80                                  January 1875 & December 1897 – January 1880 (Engraved thin running script)

JOWAKI 1877-8                                8th November 1877 – 19th January 1878 (Impressed serif capitals).

BURMA 1885-7                                 14th November 1885 – 30th April 1887 (Impressed serif capitals)

SIKKIM 1888                                    15th March – 27th September 1888 (Engraved thin running script)

HAZARA 1888                                   3rd October – 9th November 1888 (Engraved thin running script)

BURMA 1887-89                               1st May 1887 – 31st March 1859 (engraved thin running script).

BURMA 1887-9                                 scarce variant of BURMA 1887-89

CHIN LUSHAI 1889-90                      13th November 1889 – 30th April 1890 (Engraved bold running script)

SAMANA 1891                                 5th April – 25th May 1891 (engraved thin running script)

HAZARA 1891                                  12th March – 16th May 1891 (Engraved running script)

HUNZA 1891                                     1st – 22nd December 1891 (Engraved running script)

N.E FRONTIER 1891                         28th March – 7th May 1892 (Impressed serif capitals)

BURMA 1889 – 92                            6th April 189 – 18th April 1892 (Engraved thin running script)

LUSHAI 1889 – 92                            11th January 1889 – 8th June 1892 (Impressed serif capital)

CHIN HILLS 1892 – 93                      19th October 1892 – 10th March 1893 (Engraved running script)

KACHIN HILLS 1892 – 93                 3rd December 1892 – 3rd March 1893 (Engraved bold running script)

WAZIRISTAN 1894-5                        22nd October 1894 – 13th March 1895 (Engraved running script)

 

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

Sources:

Major L L Gordon ‘British Battles and Medals’

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

<en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ India_General_Service_Medal_(1854) >

Which are released under the terms of

Creativecommons.org/licenses/by-s/3.0/.

 

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