British India General Service Medals (IGSM)
Awarded with clasps for specific campaign
By Stephen Sherman, Dec. 2008. Updated July 20, 2011.
Four of these medals described here
INDIA GENERAL SERVICE MEDAL 1854-95
Description: (shown left)
The obverse of this medal shows the diademed head of Queen Victoria with the inscription 'VICTORIA REGINA'. The reverse depicts the figure of Victory crowning a seated Roman warrior with a laurel wreath. In the outer edge of the exergue can be seen the designers mark L. C. Wyon. The ribbon is attached via a scroll type swivelling suspender riveted to the medal.
This medal was never awarded without a clasp and some 23 were issued between 1854 and 1895.
'PEGU' (28th Mar 1852 - 30th Jun 1853), 'PERSIA' (5th Dec 1856 - 8th Feb 1857), 'NORTH WEST FRONTIER' (3rd Dec 1849 - 22 Oct 1868), 'UMBELYA' (20th Oct - 23rd Dec 1863), 'BHOOTAN' (Dec 1863 - Feb 1864), 'LOOSHAI' (9th Dec 1871 - 20th Feb 1872), 'PERAK' (2nd Nov 1875 - 20th Mar 1876), 'JOWAKI 1877-8' (9th Nov 1877 - 19th Jan 1878), 'NAGA 1879-80' (Dec 1879 - Jan 1880), 'BURMA 1885-7' (14th Nov 1885 - 30th Apr 1887), 'SIKKIM 1888' (15th Mar - 27th Apr 1888), 'HAZARA 1888' (3rd Oct - 9th Nov 1888), 'BURMA 1887-89' (1st May 1887 - 31st March 1889), 'CHIN LUSHAI 1889-90' (15th Nov 1889 - 30th Apr 1890), 'SAMANA 1891' (5th April - 25th May 1891), 'HAZARA 1891' (12th Mar - 16th May 1891), 'N. E. FRONTIER 1891' (28th Mar - 7th May 1891), 'HUNZA 1891' (1st - 22nd Dec 1891), 'BURMA 1889-92' (11 expeditions of 1889-92), 'LUSHAI 1889-92' (5 expeditions of 1889-92) 'CHIN HILLS 1892-93 (19th Oct 1892 - 10th Mar 1893), 'KACHIN HILLS 1892-93' (3rd Dec 1892 - 3rd Mar 1893) and 'WAZIRISTAN 1894-95' (22nd Oct 1894 - 13th Mar 1895).
The ribbon is 1.25" wide, red with 2 dark blue central stripes making 5 in total all of equal width.
Because this medal was issued for over 40 years the style of naming varies considerably. Many of he earlier issues appear in the same type of impressing as the Military General Service Medal while later issues are often found engraved in running script as well as being impressed.
The order in which the bars should be read, i.e. awarded, id from bottom to top. However the first clasp issued is often found at the top due to the common practice of cutting off the top lugs to give the clasp a more finished look and neater appearance. A bronze version of this medal was struck for non-combatants for those campaigns covered by the last 14 clasps.
INDIA GENERAL SERVICE MEDAL 1895-1902
There are two obverses for this medal. The first bears the head of Queen Victoria and the legend 'VICTORIA REGINA ET IMPERATRIX' while the second (post 1901 issue) has the head of King Edward VII and the legend 'EDWARDVS VII REX IMPERATRIX. The reverse depicts a British soldier with rifle and an Indian Sowar with sword both holding upright the Royal Standard. The word 'INDIA' appears on both versions to the left but the date '1895' appears only on the Victorian awards. The suspender is an ornate scroll type with a claw mount sweated to the medal.
'DEFENCE OF CHITRAL 1895', 'RELIEF OF CHITRAL 1895', 'PUNJAB FRONTIER 1897-98', 'MALAKAND 1897', 'SAMANA 1897', 'TIRAH 1897-98' and 'WARIRISTAN 1901-02'. The last clasp appears only on the Edward VII issue.
The ribbon is 1.25" wide with five equal stripes of crimson, dark green, crimson, dark green and crimson.
Most medals are found engraved in running script but those with the 'PUNJAB FRONTIER 1897-98' and 'MALAKAND 1897' clasps are usually in indented capitals. However other styles have been encountered.
Many of the recipients received this medal while still serving in India. As a result the clasps are often added by local India craftsmen and the rivets appear quite poorly done. This should not be seen as a possible fake or altered medal but more the norm. Also it should be noted that the Edward VII issues are slightly thinner than Victorian ones.
INDIA GENERAL SERVICE MEDAL 1908-35
There are three issues of this medal, the first bearing the head of King Edward VII and the legend 'EDWARDVS VII KAISAR-I-HIND on the obverse.
The second issue has the crowned bust of King George V and the legend 'GEORGEIVS V KAISAR-I-HIND.
The obverse of the third issue bears the crowned head of King George V with the legend 'GEORGIVS. V. D. G. BRITT. OMN. REX. ET. INDAE. IMP.'.
The reverse of all three issues depicts the fortress at Jamrud commanding the entrance into Afghanistan at the Khyber Pass with the word 'INDIA' in the lower centre. The suspender is a swivelling ornate scroll type with a claw mount (several types) sweated to the medal.
'NORTH WEST FRONTIER', 'ABOR', AFGHANISTAN N.W.F. 1919', MAHSUD 1919-1920', 'WAZIRISTAN 1919-1921', 'MALABAR 1921-1922', 'WAZIRISTAN 1925', 'NORTH WEST FRONTIER 1930-31', 'BURMA 1930-32', 'MOHMAND 1933' and ' NORTH WEST FRONTIER 1935'.
The ribbon is dark green with a central dark blue stripe and 1.25" in width.
Naming varied enormously for this medal but is usually engraved in running script for the first two clasps and then impressed in thin small capitals on later clasps.
This medal was struck at both the Royal Mint and the Calcutta Mint in India. Those struck in India had a different claw mount and is of slightly lower quality.
The first clasp was awarded with the Edward VII issue, the next seven with the second issue with the bust King George V and the last four with the third issue also with the bust of George V.
Clasps are often encountered with poor quality rivets due to them being attached to the medal while the soldier was on active service in India.
INDIA GENERAL SERVICE MEDAL 1936-39
The final India General Service Medal with the crowned head of King George VI looking left and the legend 'GEORGIVS VI D: G: BR: OMN: REX ET INDIAE IMP:.' on the obverse. The reverse depicts an Indian tiger with raised paw standing on a rocky hillock with the word 'INDIA' above. The suspender is swivelling ornate scroll type with claw mount (two different versions exist) sweated to the medal.
'NORTH WEST FRONTIER 1936-37' and 'NORTH WEST FRONTIER 1937-1939'.
1.25" wide with a central broad beige stripe and two narrow red stripes either side with green borders.
Naming was done in impressed thin capitals.
As with the India General Service Medal 1908-35 these medals were struck at both the Royal Mint and the Calcutta Mint with the Indian version bearing a different claw mount. Also recipients mentioned in dispatches were allowed to wear a bronze oak leaf on the ribbon.