Egyptian Medal, awarded to Gunner A. Chittle, 1882, with bars for El-Teb and Suakin 1884Image["Egyptian Medal, 1882"]
Obverse, a bust of Queen Victoria with veilImage["Egyptian Medal, 1882"]
Reverse, the Sphinx on a pedestal facing left
Egyptian Medal, 1882-1884
Victorian-period Egypt was technically a dependency of the Ottoman Empire, but in fact the Khedive, Tewfik Pasha, was effectively in the hands of Britain and France, for whom control of the Suez Canal was a strategic necessity. Egypt's shaky economic situation endangering this, in 1879 Britain and France took over government in an arrangement of dual control. This foreign influence was much resented in Egypt, and especially within the army. A Colonel by the name of Ahmad Urabi (Arabi Pasha) became the spearhead of the movement, which launched a coup in 1882. After some international indecision this was suppressed by British arms, and this medal awarded to those involved.
The bars of the medal however relate to a later campaign, against Sheikh Muhammad Ahmad ibn al-Sayyid 'Abd Allah and his allies, who after the proclamation of Muhammad Ahmad as Mahdi (the legendary final redeemer of Islam) in 1881 threatened to remove the Sudan, technically an Egyptian possession, entirely from the Khedive's control. Several serious defeats of Egyptian forces in 1884 led to a concerted British campaign, which included battles at el-Teb and at the Red Sea port of Suakim against Beja rebels ("fuzzie-wuzzies", as the British called them) under Usman Digna. Neither battle was a lasting success and the British withdrew their forces to Egypt and Khartoum, prior to a planned withdrawal that in fact became impossible.
This medal was awarded to Gunner A. Chittle of the 6th Battalion, 1st Scots Division, Royal Artillery, for participation in the initial 1882 campaign, but he clearly fought in the 1884 campaign too. Lester Watson acquired his medal at some point before 1928.