Well, someone got a medal.

Despite British soldiers, sailors and marines being involved in the European Intervention in Crete for nearly 15 years, and in doing so suffering considerable casualties albeit overwhelmingly from disease, no medal was issued to the British military personnel involved. However, a medal was struck and apparently issued to the Greek military. The one shown was up for sale in 2007 and described as being a ‘Service Medal (for revolution in Crete)’.

Greek Service medal: Revolution in Crete 1898

Greek Service medal: Revolution in Crete 1898

Translated, the obverse has the words ‘For Faith and Country’ set around a cross bearing the date 1898; the reverse the word ‘Freedom’.

No details were given as to who would have received the medal and there seems to be some doubt as to whether or not it was officially recognised by either the Greek or Cretan Governments. (Although given the less than brilliant efforts by the Greek Army during the short period it was on Crete, this is not unsurprising.)

Some British soldiers did, however, received medals while in Crete, albeit for the Sudan Campaign; participants being eligible for The Queen’s Sudan Medal and/or The Kedive’s Sudan Medal, the latter coming with up to 15 additional clasps. Colour Sergeant Archer, 2/Rifle Brigade, received his medal in early 1899. In March that year he wrote to his mother telling her that he was getting the [Queen’s?] Sudan Medal and “[hopes] to get an International Star for this place.” On 8th April 1899, in an obviously underwhelmed state of mind,  he wrote to his brother that that: “We received our [Sudan] medals, got them last Monday, they are though in a very crude condition having no bar nor the names on.” [1] Unfortunately for Archer, no International Star was awarded for service in Crete.

[1] Liddle Hart Collection, Kings College London. ARCHER.

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2 thoughts on “Well, someone got a medal.

  1. chrismoorey

    I have absolutely no knowledge of the history of military medals, but I wonder if this is relevant. It was certainly the practice in the 1950s for only one campaign medal to be issued each year. Thus, my brother serving in the Royal Navy was involved in the suppression of the Kenya Mutiny in 1964 (aid to the civil power, I think they called it). The only campaign medal issued that year was for Aden, so he got that, although he’d never set foot in Aden. Could this rule have been operating in 1899, leading to colour-sergeant Archer receiving the Sudan Medal?

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    1. Mick McT Post author

      The only references to medals that I’ve come across to date have been about the receipt of medals by men who served in the Sudan during the Omdurman campaign…complaining about the quality of the medal!

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