Tibet Medal

Era: 1905

The Tibet Medal was authorized on 1st February, 1905, to be awarded to all who took part in the Tibet Mission and accompanying troops who served at or beyond Silgari from 13th December, 1903, to 23rd September, 1904.

In July, 1903, a trade mission led by Colonel Younghusband was sent by the Indian Government to meet the Tibet and Chinese officials in Gyantse.  This mission was met with a hostile reception on the way and it was advised by the Tibetan General to return to Quatong to avoid bloodshed, though Colonel Younghusband refused and ordered the disarmament of the Tibetan Troops.

On 31st March, 1904, the Tibetans fired on the column and suffered with heavy casualties for doing so.  A force under the command of General Macdonald arrived at Gyantse after having had to fight its way there.  In the end an expeditionary force 4,600 strong was employed.  The Tibetans were heavily defeated outside Gyantse and the Dalai Lama was sent from Lhassa to ask for peace.

In July, Colonel Younghusband stated that the Mission would proceed to Lhassa to demand an apology.  The mission arrived on the 3rd August, and a treaty was signed in Portala Lhassa, which is shown on the reverse of the medal.

Most issues of the Tibet Medal went to Indian troops who along with British personnel were awarded this medal in silver. Camp followers received the medal in bronze


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; a thick maroon band in the centre, then a white stripe either side, then green.

Tibet Medal ribbon
Tibet Medal ribbon

Suspension – Ornate

Type – Campaign Medal.

Eligibility – British Army.

Awarded for – Campaign Services

Campaign – Tibet 1903-04.

Established – 1st February.

Designer – Obverse, G. W. de Saulles;  Reverse, E. G. Gillick

Naming – In neat, rather thick, running script.

Clasps – One issued.

Description – The Tibet Medal is 36mm wide and issued in Silver and bronze for camp followers. Obverse of the medal has the bust of King Edward VII and the wording, ‘EDWARDVS VII REX ET IMPERATOR.’  The reverse is a fine picture of the fotresss of Potala Lhassa (winter palace of the Dalai Lamas) in Lhasa on top of the red hill with the words 'TIBET 1903-04' below.

Clasps are usually referred to as ‘bars’.  They are single-faced metal bars carried on a ribbon attached to the medal, indicating the recipient’s 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 closest to the medal, so that the latest earned should be at the top, although they can be found in the wrong order. 

Gyantse                                                                      (3rd May – 6th July, 1904)

This bar was awarded to members of the units, who took part in the operations around Gyantse between 3rd May and 6th July, 1904.


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


Major LL Gordon, 'British Battles & Medals

Some of the material on this page was also partially derived from <en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ Tibet_Medal>

Which are released under the terms of the creativecommons.org/licenses/by-s/3.0/.


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