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East India Company's Egypt Medal, issued 1802

East India Co.'s Egypt Medal, 1802

Obverse, a sepoy with a flagstaff flying a Union Jack before an encampment

East India Co.'s Egypt Medal, 1802

Reverse, a ship under full sail, heading right, before the Pyramids

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East India Company's Egypt Medal, 1802

General Napoleon Bonaparte, in 1798 not yet in power in France, conceived the idea of attacking Egypt to cut Britain off from India, and was sent to do so at least partly so as to remove him from turbulent Paris. However, in the wake of a triumphant naval victory by Rear Admiral Horatio Nelson at Aboukir Bay, and a general lack of strategic success despite several crushing victories over Egyptian and Ottoman forces, Bonaparte returned to France in 1799 to take power by coup. French troops remained in the country until 1801, however, when a force under Sir Ralph Abercromby was dispatched to expel them. He was aided in this by a contingent supplied by the Honourable East India Company, and in 1802 the Company approved the issue of this medal for the men who had taken part. European troops had to wait until 1848 for their participation to be recognised with a British award.
The medal is unnamed, so we do not know who the recipient of this example was. Lester Watson purchased the medal from the dealer Gifford in 1927.