East and West Africa Medal, with bar for Gambia 1894, awarded to AB W. D. Cole, 1894

Image["East and West Africa Medal, 1894"]

Obverse, a bust of Queen Victoria with crown and veil

Image["East and West Africa Medal, 1894"]

Reverse, a scene of bush fighting around a tree with a fallen African to the fore

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East and West Africa Medal, 1894

Peace-keeping operations in the British possessions in Africa, as anywhere else, required a large number of small campaigns, several of which, from 1892 until 1900, were considered to merit this medal, which in terms of design is a continuation of the Ashantee War Medal. Recipients who held that medal already were therefore awarded only extra clasps.
British interests in what is now Gambia were complicated by numerous French possessions nearby, most obviously Senegal, from which territorial claims and clandestine expansion could be moved. It also meant that when, as in 1894, British forces were committed to campaigns against slave-raider chiefs, the slavers had somewhere close by to retreat to and hide. Thus after a month of unusually bloody fighting against the raider chief Fodi Silah, British forces were thwarted by his surrender to the French authorities in Senegal, although he died there soon afterwards.
This example of the medal and bar for that campaign was awarded to Able-Bodied Seaman W. D. Cole, of the paddle-steamer gunboat HMS Alecto (also committed to the Benin River expedition). Lester Watson purchased the medal at some point before 1928.


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