The Punjab Medal was a campaign medal approved by General Order on 2nd April, 1849, for issue to officers and men of the British Army and Honourable East India Company who served in the Punjab Campaign of 1848-49. This campaign was virtually a continuation of the Sutlej one which ended by a treaty signed at Lahore on 22nd February, 1846.
The Sikhs were in a state of unrest and the Punjab flared into a rebellion in 1848, Major General Whish fielded two armies and besieged the rebel stronghold of Mooltan. The second army under Lord Gough went northwards towards the Punjab, and on the 13th January Sir Gough reached the entrenched Sikh army under Sher Singh in Chilianwala. In the following battle both side had heavy casualties, some of the heaviest being suffered by the South Wales Boarders.
There were three bars issued with this medal, though there were no medals issued with three bars, and no unit received a medal with the bars for “MOOLTAN” and “CHILIANWALA.” There are many medals without bars awarded to troops who did not participate in any of the three main actions of the campaign. The bars to this medal should read downwards – i.e. the most recent award nearest the piece.
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 – Dark blue centre with yellow edges.
Type – Campaign Medal.
Eligibility – British and Honourable East India Company forces.
Awarded for – Campaign service.
Campaign – Punjab 1848-49.
Established – 2nd April, 1849.
Designer – Wyon, R.A.
Suspension – An ornament swivelling suspender.
Naming – Impressed Roman capitals.
Clasps – Three.
Description – The obverse of the Punjab Medal is the diademed head of Queen Victoria and the legend “VICTORIA REGINA.” The reverse of this medal is highly detailed and shows Major-General Sir Walter Gilbert, on horseback, receiving the surrender of the Sikh army with their arms and colours. Two regiments of East India troops, complete with colours, are drawn up in the middle distance, whilst in the background there are large palm trees on a hill top. Around the top is the inscription “TO THE ARMY OF THE PUNJAB.” In the exergue is the date in Roman numerals “MDCCCXLIX.”
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.
MOOLTAN (7th September, 1848 – 22nd January 1849)
Awarded to troops engaged in the siege of Multan.
CHILIANWALA (13th January, 1849)
Awarded to troops under the command of Lord Gough who engaged with the Sikh army of Sher Singh and Lal Singh near Chilianwala.
GOOJERAT (21st February, 1849)
Awarded to troops under the command of Lord Gough who defeated the Sikh army of Sher Singh at Gujerat.
Major L L Gordon ‘British Battles and Medals’
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