The Egypt medal was issued with 13 clasps covering engagements from 1882-1889 and the Royal Navy and Royal Marines played a part throughout the prolonged conflicts and earned all but the Toski 1889 clasp as a result. In this series of blogs about Victorian medals to the RN/RM, I am addressing a rather rare clasp for which only 182 clasps were awarded to the RN/RM and that would be “Gemaizah 1888”
The medals were awarded to a small number of men aboard HMS Racer and HMS Starling and the majority of medals are named to those ships. In some cases, members of the crew had served in the region prior to the battle of Gemaizah and had been awarded an Egypt medal and in some cases, with clasp(s) for earlier service.
The medal rolls for Egypt are somewhat complex in that individual rolls exist for periods and groups of clasps. To understand the full entitlement one must often consult several rolls. If an earlier medal was earned, it was expected to be returned and refitted with an additional clasp and as a result, although most medals with the Gemaizah clasp are named to the ships that qualified for the clasp, about 30% are named to different ships as a result of prior service. A summary of awards is set out in the table below:
|Medal with clasp, named to HMS Racer||91|
|Medal with clasp, named to HMS Starling||39|
|Clasp for service with HMS Racer and medal earned previously||30|
|Clasp for service with HMS Starling and medal earned previously||22|
A clasp roll has been created from the roll compiled by Captain K.J. Douglas-Morris, R.N. and published by J.B Hayward & Son in April 1973 and is reproduced here with the express permission of Mr. Hayward.
The Admiralty Rolls for clasps are available electronically and are free to download from the National Archives site. The reference numbers of the specific clasps are set out in the following table:
|Clasps||ADM Roll Reference|
|Alexandria 11 July
|The Nile 1884-85
|Gemaizah 1888||ADM 171/49|
The naming on the medals varies depending on whether or not the original medal was named for an earlier engagement in Egypt, in that case a sloped engraved style, or a later engagement in the Soudan , in that case an upright impressed style.
By late 1888, the Dervish forces continued to amass around Suakin and the Egyptian forces were in danger of being overwhelmed. British reinforcements arrived in November and the battle which is sometimes referred to as the battle of Suakin took place on December 20, 1888. It was more of a slaughter than a battle with casualties on the British/Egyptian side amounting to 12 versus the estimated 1,000 Dervish casualties after a mere 90 minutes. The ships HMS Racer and HMS Starling shelled the enemy’s trenches and wells.