Africa General Service Medal, with bars for Somaliland 1902-4 and Jidballi, awarded to Pvt. C. Summerbell, 1904Image["Africa General Service Medal, 1904"]
Obverse, a bust of King Edward VIIImage["Africa General Service Medal, 1904"]
Reverse, Britannia with lion gesturing right to sun on horizon
Africa General Service Medal, 1902-1910
Numerous actions in the British-controlled parts of Africa were felt to merit the award of a medal, but not a distinct one for every action. The Africa General Service Medal replaced the
East and West Africa Medal which had previously been awarded for service in this theatre. Bars were awarded for a variety of small campaigns, sometimes only one expedition and sometimes rather more complex operations.
The repeated uprisings in what is now Somalia led by Sayyid Mohammed Abdullah Hassan, whom the British called `the Mad Mullah', were perceived as threats not just by the British Empire, but Italy and the Ethiopian Empire also. Operations were begun against Sayyid Mohammed and his army of so-called Dervishes in 1901 by forces of all three states, with only scant success. A series of three campaigns between 1902 and 1904 were similarly inconclusive until the Dervish army were heavily defeated at the Battle of Jidaale in January 1904. After this Sayyid Mohammed's considerable power was temporarily confined to a smaller area, but he remained an irreducible and expanding opposition to British and Ethiopian rules until his death by influenza in 1921.
This medal was awarded to British troops who fought at Jidaale, which naturally also entitled them to the bar for the wider campaign. It was awarded to Private C. Summerbell of the 1st Hampshire Regiment. Lester Watson purchased it from the London dealers Spink on 12 November 1924.