Egyptian Medal, with bars for The Nile 1884-85 & Kirbekan, awarded to Pvt. M. Staunton, 1882
Obverse, a bust of Queen Victoria with veil
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, but control could not be recovered. The British withdrew their forces to Egypt and to Khartoum, where General Gordon defended the city whilst awaiting a relief column that, beset by Mahdist attacks, arrived too late. The bar for The Nile 1884-85 indicates participation in that relief expedition, while that for Kirbekan relates to the taking of a Mahdist citadel there in February 1885.
This medal was awarded to Private M. Staunton of the 1st Battalion, Royal Irish Fusiliers, 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.