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Army of India Medal, with bar for Ava, awarded to Lt. A. Harrison, 1851

Army of India Medal, 1851

Obverse, a bust of Queen Victoria

Army of India Medal, 1851

Reverse, Victory seated facing left before a palm and war spoils, holding a laurel branch and wreath

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Army of India Medal, 1851 (First Anglo-Burmese War)

The numerous campaigns of the forces of the British East India Company were not officially recognised with a medal until 1851, in the same move as that which created the Military and Naval General Service Medals for service in the contemporary French Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars. The resulting Army of India medal covered battles from 1799 to 1826, so many of those involved were no longer living. Queen Victoria, by whose order the medal was issued and whose bust it therefore carried, was likewise not on the throne for the actions for which it was awarded.
The bar for Ava relates to the same campaign for which the East India Company awarded its Burma War Medal to their Indian troops (some 25 years earlier!). In 1824 raiding by Burmese troops of King Bagyidaw of Ava, in modern-day Myanmar, into the border states of Sylhat and Cachar (now both in India) had caused their independent rulers to appeal for help from the British in India. This led to an orchestrated reprisal expedition whose aim was to take Rangoon. The campaign lasted through two years of extremely difficult fighting, but in 1826, with his forces driven from Assam, Rakhine and Manipur, King Bagyidaw agreed a treaty with the British. He was to abdicate in 1837.
This medal was awarded to Lieutenant A. Harrison of the 38th South Stafffordshire Regiment. Lester Watson purchased it at some time before 1928.