by Mike Hargreave Mawson
|The Crimean War Medal was sanctioned on the 15th December 1854 by order of Queen Victoria. Two clasps were also authorised at this time, for the battles of Alma (20th September 1854) and Inkermann (5th November 1854). The clasp for the battle of Balaklava (which took place before that of Inkermann, on 25th October 1854) was not authorised until 23rd February 1855. The clasp for the fall of Sebastopol (9th September 1855) was granted on 13th October 1855. A clasp was also awarded to the Royal Navy and Royal Marines for actions in the Sea of Azoff (25th May - 22nd September 1855), being announced in the "London Gazzette" of 2nd May 1856. The clasps are worn in date order, with the clasp for Alma being closest to the Medal.
The medal itself is a 36mm disc of sterling silver, bearing the diademed head of Queen Victoria on the obverse, together with the legend "VICTORIA REGINA" and the date "1854"; the reverse shows a Roman legionary (carrying a gladius and circular shield) being crowned with a laurel wreath by a winged figure of Victory; to the left is the legend "CRIMEA", which is written vertically. The suspension is an ornate floriated swivelling suspender unique to the Crimea Medal; the clasps are also unique, being in the form of an oak leaf with an acorn at each extremity. The ribbon is 27mm wide, pale blue with yellow edges.
275,000 un-named Crimea medals were awarded (at the time, the largest distribution ever made) to all those in the British Army, Royal Navy and Royal Marines who took part in the campaign in the Crimean peninsula, or in related service afloat. Those who took part in the Baltic campaign or the actions in the Pacific were not entitled: the former received the Baltic Medal; the latter, nothing. Some civilians, most notably the reporter for "The Times", William Howard Russell, also received the medal. Medals could be returned to the Mint for naming (in a style known as "officially impressed"), but many were crudely stamped with names by recipients who were presented with their medals in the Crimea ("Depot impressed"), or were privately engraved by jewellers in Britain.
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