Indian General Service Medal 1908-1935, with bar for Malabar 1921-22, awarded to Sapper Gabriel, 1924
Obverse, a portrait of King George V in robes
Reverse, Jamrud fort overlooking Khyber Pass with mountains behind
Indian General Service Medal, 1924 (Moplah Rebellion)
The India Medal of 1895 having needed alteration for its last issues due to the death of Queen Victoria, in 1908 it was decided to replace it entirely with a new medal of Edward VII, which was first issued in 1909. When the first issue was made under King George V, in 1911, Richard Garbe designed a new obverse but the medal was otherwise unaltered.
The state of Kerala, on what is called the Malabar coast in the south-west of India, was in the early twentieth century economically controlled by the British and by a wealthy Hindu landowning class whose labourers were mostly Muslims. A rise in Islamic fundamentalism in the area around the time of the Great War managed to combine racial, political, religious and economic resentments into a full-blown uprising in 1921 which is known as the Moplah Rebellion. Accusations still fly from both sides of the historiography of this conflict, as with any episode in Indian history which can be viewed as a conflict between Hindu and Muslim. It is certain that the rising was suppressed by British forces and a rapidly-raised (and mostly Hindu) militia called the Malabar Special Police, and that a great many deaths occurred.
Among the regular forces involved in the suppression of the revolt was Sapper Gabriel of the 2nd Battalion, Queen Victoria's Own Sappers and Miners, whose medal this is. Lester Watson purchased it from the London dealers Baldwin before 1928.