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Africa General Service Medal, with bar for Somaliland 1920, awarded to AC2 W. J. Powlesland, in 1920

Africa General Service Medal, 1920

Obverse, a bust of King George V

Africa General Service Medal, 1920

Reverse, Britannia with lion gesturing right to sun on horizon

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Africa General Service Medal, 1916-1920

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 continuing efforts by the British to wrest control of the territories that make up modern Somalia from the so-called `Mad Mullah', Sayyid Mohammed Abdullah Hassan, culminated in a fifth campaign against him in 1920, in response to several years of expansion of settlement by his Dervish forces. For the first time in Africa the forces used included not just troops and ships, but also aircraft, including floatplanes flown from the seaplane carrier HMS Ark Royal. This concentration of force drove Sayyid Mohammed and his forces back into his homeland territories, where however he continued to spurn British offers of peace, despite increasing slaughter of his forces, until his death from influenza the next year.
This medal was awarded to Aircraftman Second Class W. J. Powlesland, a member of the single flight of the Royal Air Force which were involved in this campaign. Lester Watson purchased it from the London dealer Baldwin in 1928.