TOPIC: Bronze or silver
Bronze or silver 8 years 7 months ago #641
Source: Page 1
CinC's decision that bronze medals are only given to those who, in India, would be included in the designation of 'followers', such as personal servants, water carriers, camel drivers &c.
Dr David Biggins
Bronze or silver 5 years 4 weeks ago #24326
Silver or Bronze Medals to Public Followers and others.[/i][/b]
The decision of 68/S.A./4199. To give Silver Medals to Natives of India such as Kahars and
the like, and to communicate our intentions to the India Office necessitates the whole question of
the grant of Bronze and silver Medals being thoroughly gone into.
In 1887 on 68/Gen No/1150. A despatch was received from the India Office pointing out that
the grant of War Medals to Authorised Followers was restricted to the following classes:-
Ordinance Bullock Drivers.
Tindals and Lascars
Nalbunds and salutries of mountain and heavy Field Batteries
Mahouts and Coolies of Heavy Batteries or Siege Trains
when they have been actually exposed to fire of the enemy and under circumstances which
rendered such exposure a duty.
The application was made mainly on the representation of the Commander-of-Chief in India
that War Medals of a a cheaper material than issued to the troops should be given to all authorised
Followers accompanying an Army in the Field. It was pointed out that under the then existing
conditions “Syce” and Grass cutters of Cavalry Regiments did not get Medals neither did Dooly
bearers whose mission it is to carry the killed and wounded off the field of battle.
It was distinctly stated that a main feature of the proposal was that medals for all followers
should be made of cheaper material than silver.
The proposal of the Indian Government was concurred in by all concerned and it was
submitted to and approved by Her late Majesty.
Advantage was taken of the decision to issue Medals for all Authorised Followers who
accompanied the Army during the operations in Burma in 1885 to 1887.
n 1899 on 68/Gen. No. /1533. The Secretary of State for India asked for a general ruling in
regard to the grant of Medals to Native Indian followers employed in Military operations under
orders of the Imperial Government,. This application was made in the consequence of the
employment of Indian troops out of India with their followers. It was recommended that a similar
rule should be adopted to that in force in India itself, and that all Authorised Public Followers should
be granted Bronze Medals when Silver Medals were granted to combatants. All agreed in this
proposal and the Secretary of State of India was notified accordingly.
On 68/India/1456 the Secretary of State for India asked if there was any objection to Medals
been granted to the Private Servants of Officers who accompanied their Employers on Field Service
as recommended by the Government of India.
The Secretary of State for India asked whether the grant of a Queen’s Sudan Medal to
civilian servants of Officers in 1899 was in accordance with the general rule, or whether it was a
special extension to the Sudan Campaign; he further proposed that as a rule the Medals should be
Bronze. It must be borne in mind that both in India and in the Sudan Campaign quoted, Private Servants were as a rule coloured men. The I.G.R. recommended that medals should be granted to
Private Servants of Officers, White Servants to receive a Silver Medal, and coloured Servants a
Bronze one; the Secretary of State approved of Civilian Servants being granted a Medal when it can
be shown that they actually attended their masters in the Field.
A letter was written to the India Office adopting the suggestion of the I.G.R. granting Silver
Medals in the case of Servants who are Europeans, and Bronze Medals in the case of coloured
A reply to this letter was received in 68/India/1476. In his letter the Secretary of State for
India depreciated the proposal to grant Silver Medals to European Servants, and Bronze Medals to
coloured Servants on the grounds that the distinction which would make the kind of decoration
depends on the race of the recipient, rather than on the duties on which he was engaged, appears to
be open to great objection.
The Commander-in-Chief considered the India Office objection to be logical, but stipulated
that it should be clearly laid down that ant Soldier, or Reserve man, acting as a servant would get a
The Secretary of State approved and the Secretary of State for India was notified
And on 68/India/1484 the decision was made retrospective as regards the Tochi Campaign
of 97 – 8.
It may be remarked that under this decision the anomaly was created by which a Reservist
acting as a Civilian Servant would get a Silver Medal while an ex-reservist would only get a Bronze
On 68/S.A./4199 the Officer Commanding the 18th Field Hospital South Africa submitted that
in previous Campaigns Indian Kahars have not been deprived of Clasps for engagements whether the
Medals were Silver or Bronze and recommended that all Indian Kahars employed with Field
Hospitals should be awarded Silver Medals with clasps.
This appeal arose in consequence of the Paragraph in A.O. 94 of 1901. Which stated “that
non-enlisted men of whatever nationality who drew military pay will receive Bronze Medals without
It was pointed out that these men if in India would only receive Bronze Medals, being
considered as Followers, the P.U.S. asked Lieut-General Sir W. Nicholson for his views on the Subject
remarking that it would seem, as these Kahars perform under fire exactly similar duties to the men
of our Bearer Companies, they should receive the same medal.
Lieut-General Sir W. Nicholson replied that he is strongly in favour of giving Natives of India
who are Public Followers i.e. Kahars and the like Silver Medals and Clasps. He further stated that a
very large number of Bronze Medals remain undistributed at the Headquarters of each Command in
India owing to the disinclination of the men concerned to accept the Medal of an inferior
description. He further suggested that the Private Servants of Officers might be given Bronze Medals
with Clasps. The C-in-C. agreed with Lieut-General Sir W. Nicholson excepting that he would not give
clasps to the Bronze Medals to Officer’s Servants.
The S. of S. agreed but thought that the proposal was contrary to the practice established on
68/Gen.No/1150. The Secretary of State for India should be informed of our intentions.
It is a doubtful point whether clasps can be granted at all under Article 1240 of the Royal
Warrant to non-combatants. The Article in question lays down that medals may be given to all
enlisted men whether combatants or non-combatants, but states that clasps may be issued to all
It appears desirable to divide followers into two classes i.e. Those who duties necessarily
take them under fire and those who are not so exposed. Some conclusion could then be come to
with the concurrence of the India Office as to the grant of Silver or Bronze Medals. It appears useless
to grant Bronze Medals in accordance with the decision on 68/Gen.No.1150 if as pointed out by
Lieut-General Sir W. Nicholson men will not accept them.
The question of what class of Medal ward-maids should receive came up for consideration
on 68/S.A./2637, since by Paragraph 29 of Army Order 94 1901, the Medal in Bronze is given to all
nonenlisted men who drew military pay of whatever nationality.
The C.-in-C. decided that ward-maids should receive the Silver Medal, as “Bronze Medals
were intended for all Followers, that is to say Natives, and that it was never intended that Engine
Drivers, men employed on Intelligence Work etc., not Natives, should be given the Bronze Medal”.
In consequence of the terms of the Army Order granting the Medal for South Africa, an
appeal was received from Lord Kitchener on 68/S.A./2711 asking that Engine Drivers, Stokers, and
other classes of Europeans who have rendered good service throughout the War, should be granted
the Silver Medal instead of the Bronze Medal and suggesting that the grant of the silver medal may
be extended to all Europeans serving in Departments but not enlisted, at the discretion of the
General Officer Commanding-in-Chief, South Africa.
Each case to be considered individually, and decided upon by Lord Kitchener.
The Commander-in-Chief decided on /2637 that a Silver Medal should be given to all the
people mentioned by Lord Kitchener, and the Bronze Medal to men who would in India be included
in the designation of Followers.
On the other hands in accordance with the terms of the Army Order a Bronze Medal without
clasps has been given an Officer’s Servant who had served 12 years in the Grenadier Guards and
carried a rifle part of the time, see 68/Gren.Gds/652.
The question of Nurses receiving clasps was raised by the Secretary of State on
68/S.A./4199, and the Commander-in-Chief stated that clasps should not be given to people for
actions who would not under any circumstances take part in them, and again on 4823/7/1519 the
Commander-in-Chief stated Nurses are not intended to go into action. While the Secretary of State
wrote that clasps should not be given to any combatants, but those intended to go under fire.
In view of all the different rulings quoted it appears advisable to have the whole Medal
question cleared up, both as regards the grant of Silver and Bronze Medals, and clasps. The Commander-in-Chief and the Secretary of State state that clasps should be given to
persons either taking part in actions, or coming under fire.
Nurses get no clasps even if exposed to fire.
Scripture Readers get clasps according to former precedents.
Chaplains get clasps
Doctors, men of the R.A.M.C. and St John’s Ambulance Corps get clasps.
India Kahars who apparently do very much the same work on the Battle field, not only do
not get clasps, but get an inferior class of Medal.
The whole question as to the grant of Silver or Bronze Medals seems to call for settlement.
As regards Officer’s Servants it has already been pointed out that a Reservist acting as such gets a
Silver Medal, but if he is time expired he only gets a Bronze one.
It cannot moreover be considered satisfactory that though the terms of the grant of Silver or
Bronze Medals has been specifically laid down in the Army Order granting the Medal for South Africa
we have already been obliged to give Lord Kitchener a free hand to depart from its terms at his
The question also of the question of clasps to Bronze Medals to non-Combatants seems to
require clearing up.
WO 32/8557 India Office Library.
Looking for Salutries, Salootries and Veterinary Duffadars.
I collect primarily QSAs to Indian Recipients.
Bronze or silver 5 years 4 weeks ago #24332
Thank you for another very interesting post. Surely, a definitive book on this subject must be in the offing?
In view of all its complications, I wonder if any officials regretted the practise of awarding bronze medals to people of colour? No such complications arose with the award of, for example, the SA Medal (1877-79), of which only silver medals were struck. Similarly, the 'Colonial' medals such as the Cape of Good Hope General Service Medal and Natal Rebellion Medal were only in silver and were awarded to all who qualified, irrespective of colour and capacity.
I will write more about my latest acquisition elsewhere, suffice to say that it is a silver QSA with a 'Natal' clasp awarded to a medical orderly who served on a hospital ship anchored in Durban Bay. Another example from my collection is the bronze QSA awarded to a Dooly Bearer, who served during the Battle of Talana and the Defence of Ladysmith. The inconsistency between these two awards, and the unfairness, must surely have troubled some official minds.
The following user(s) said Thank You: David Grant
Bronze or silver 5 years 4 weeks ago #24333
I understood that the issue of silver medals (SAGS/CoGH)to "native" troops was because they were fighting alongside "white" troops against "native opponents". The rationale behind the issue of bronze QSAs to "non whites" was - again as I understand it - because the opponent in that instance was "white". May I say, without a skerrick of PC, that I do find such terms offensive and illogical. If someone was on the side of the Queen/King, they all faced some danger if anywhere near an ill-defined "front"; especially those unfortunate native drivers and others who were shot out of hand by the Boers on numerous occasions.
I am certain that certain officials (especially officers who served in the field in the later stages of the war) would have felt that the issue of bronze QSAs or, indeed, NO medal at all, was quite unjust.
Fortunately, one of my three bronze QSAs is shown on the medal roll as being in the siege of Ladysmith (even as just a "kneader"). Serving Her Majesty, nevertheless.
Bronze or silver 5 years 4 weeks ago #24341
Thank you for your comments.
I have trolled through the Medal Yearbook and it seems that the British started issuing bronze medals with the IGS Burma 1885-87 Medal, and thereafter this metal was used for the medals of 'native troops' in campaigns in India and Africa up to and including World War I. The exception was during WWI itself when bronze medals were issued to people of colour who served in the European theatre of war as well. In a foretaste of what lay ahead in South Africa's social engineering, the bronze British War Medal was denied to men who served (and died) in the SA Native Labour Corps.***
It seems that, at least in Britain, wiser heads prevailed thereafter. The issuing of bronze medals may have saved a little money, but it probably made no sense to the men of different races who fought together for Queen (and King) and Country. It certainly bedevilled race relations in the Colony of Natal in the early 1900's.
***Considering their tribulations, merchant seamen were rather insultingly also issued with a bronze medal during WWI. Apparently, the only notable exception thereafter was the unusual case of the WWII Newfoundland Volunteer War Service Medal.
Bronze or silver 5 years 4 weeks ago #24349
Not over sure about the above.
The SAGS predates the bronze issue of medals and the the CoGHGS was a post Boer War issue when bronze medals were loosing already losing favour due to the racial nature of their distribution.
But I would come out and support the officials at Whitehall who tried to implement the proposals as pertaining to bronze or silver issues of the QSA,
Certainly there seemed to be, in the papers that I have, an implicit understanding of the regulation that the bronze medals were for all non-attested civilian or non-frontline troops or "Followers". Then Lord Kitchener got involved on one side saying that silvers should be given to natives of Europe, as well as others saying that silver medals should be given to the equally brave natives of the Colonies. The bronze issue to engine drivers, transport personnel, nurses etc. as originally envisaged was gradually eroded by firstly giving anyone a silver medal if they had been under fire; secondly by being included in Lord Kitchener's Despatch and finally by Lord Kitchener's own prejudice. The mess was due to Lord Kitchener's involvement against the provisions of the AO. The frustration is very clear from the officials trying to make sense of spur of the moment decisions and prejudice against race or class.
The issue of clasps or no clasps is also tense.
From what I can make out the issue of clasps to the QSA would only be if the recipient had been under fire. Otherwise a dated clasp would have been issued in the same way as a SAGS Medal clasp. So a "South Africa 1899-1900" would have been issued as well as all the other possibilities. I have evidence that this was implemented for Indian Troops. So a "South Africa 1902" clasp was issued without the addition of Colony clasps because the recipient was not under fire. This decision was to apply to bronze and silver issues. I get the impression that the pedantic benign neglect of those in authority was responsible for the demise of the idea. They simply ran out of enthusiasm.
Looking for Salutries, Salootries and Veterinary Duffadars.
I collect primarily QSAs to Indian Recipients.