Naval General Service Medal, with bar for 23rd June 1795, awarded to Srgn's Mate William Gladstone, 1848
Obverse, a bust of Queen Victoria
Reverse, Britannia with a trident seated sideways on a seahorse
Naval General Service Medal, 1848 (French Revolutionary War)
Just as in 1848 the extensive land campaigns of the Napoleonic Wars and the other conflicts of the pre-Victorian era were recognised by the issue of the Military General Service Medal, those serving in the Navy at the time were recognised with the Naval General Service Medal. As with the Army equivalent and the East India Company's related award, many of the battles for which the medal was awarded had been fought so long ago that few if any claimants survived.
In addition, bars were awarded for many actions whose significance and size were, despite the heroism displayed by those involved, relatively minor. The result was that many of the bars were issued in tiny numbers, with some combinations all but unique, and the medals command a very high price among collectors because of this rarity and individuality. This in turn, along with the manufacture in most cases of more bars than were eventually issued, has led to the `improvement' of many common awards where recipients' names are shared with those present at `rarer' battles. The medal also shares with the Military General Service and Army of India Medals the oddity that Queen Victoria, whose portrait they bear, was not the ruler under whom the battles for which it was awarded were fought.
The battle for which this bar was awarded was a spreading and vague action off the Isle de Groix, in which a British fleet of 25 ships under Admiral Bridport engaged a French fleet of 23 of the line, and captured three but allowed nine more that could have been taken to escape through indecision.
Nonetheless, the victory was commemorated by a bar, and this medal, awarded to William Gladstone, who was Surgeon's Mate aboard HMS Sans Pareil during the battle, bears it. The award of this bar to him has been verified. Lester Watson purchased the medal at some point before 1928.