Abyssinian War Medal awarded to AB Seaman T. Simpkin of HMS Spiteful, 1869.
Obverse, a bust of Queen Victoria
Reverse, inscription within laurel wreath
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Abyssinian War Medal, 1869
The Abyssinian War Medal was awarded to those involved in a 1867-1868 expedition to Abyssinia to secure the release of British labourers sent to the country at the request of King Theodore, but imprisoned on their arrival along with other British representatives. Though 43,000 men were involved in the campaign (only 14,683 being soldiers) and vastly outnumbered, total casualties were only 2 killed and 27 wounded, and the King committed suicide when the city of Magdala fell to the British.
This medal was awarded to Able Bodied Seaman T. Simpkin, whose vessel, HMS Spiteful, despite only being a paddle-steamer single-handedly quelled piracy in the Arabian Gulf during the campaign, in a month's cruise in 1868 in which she captured 6 vessels and rescued 200 slaves. Simpkin was presumably part of this effort, and Lester Watson purchased the medal awarded for it at some point before 1928.
The Museum is glad to acknowledge the help of Mr G. M. Stein with the history of this medal.