Khedive's Sudan Medal, with bars for Firket, Hafir, Abu Hamed, Sudan 1897, The Atbara, Khartoum, Sudan 1899, Gedid & Nyam Nyam, awarded to an unknown Sudanese soldier, 1898-1905
Obverse, inscription in Arabic
Reverse, an oval shield bearing three stars and crescents, before an array of crossed rifles, cannons and standards
Khedive's Sudan Medal (1897), 1898-1905
The recovery by Egypt of the Sudan, after its secession under Mahdist rebels in the 1880s, did not by any means mark the end of conflict in that province, which remained restless under an Egyptian control seen merely as a puppet for British imperialism. In fact combat was more or less endemic from 1896 to 1908 and beyond, and in 1897 the Egyptian Army obtained from the Khedive a new medal to be awarded for service in these campaigns. When finally replaced it had been issued with fifteen different bars, and without any bar for the earliest engagements that it covered.
Starting from bases at Sarras and Suakim, the campaign to regain control of the rebel province began with the occupation of Dongola, moving via Akasha to Firket where the forces of Emir Osman Azraq were defeated on 7 June 1896. Field Marshal Sir Horatio Kitchener, in charge of the Anglo-Egyptian Nile Expeditionary Force that was carrying out the campaign, now set up railway lines for supply before proceeding to Kermas and then Meroe. Between these two captures, the Imperial forces were brought to battle at Hafir in late September, where with support from naval gunboats they were able to convincingly rebuff their attackers. By mid-October Dongola had fallen and separate forces were sent against subsidiary objectives. One of these was the town of Abu Hamed, which fell to Imperial forces on 7 July 1897.
All the battles so far mentioned were considered to merit bars to the Sudan Medal, and this example of it bears them, as well as the bar for Sudan 1897 which was awarded for general service in the area in the latter part of that year. The next major engagement was the Battle of the Atbara on 8 April 1898, in which Abdullah ibn Muhammad al-Taashi, the successor of the so-called Mahdi Muhammad Ahmad ibn al-Sayyid, was defeated by a British firepower that now included the new Maxim machine gun. At the Battle of Omdurman on 2 September 1898, despite being outnumbered two-to-one by al-Taashi's forces, the Mahdists sustained casulaties totalling nearly half their force at the hands of the artillery, machine-guns and trained soldiery of the British and Egyptians, who lost not even fifty men killed and took total casualties of less than 500. For this battle the bar for Khartoum was awarded, and after it the Mahdist revolt, deprived of its capital, was effectively defeated. The movement disintegrated into separate insurgencies, one of which, under one Ahmad Feli, generated two more bars to the Sudan Medal for battles at Gedaref and Gedid in late 1898 and 22 November 1899 respectively. Meanwhile the bar for Sudan 1899 was awarded for general service south of Khartoum in that year. Al-Taashi was finally killed at the Battle of Umm Diwaykarat on 24 November 1899 and thereafter the province was officially considered reconquered.
This notional state of peace did not prevent numerous peace-keeping operations in more marginal areas being necessary, and one such against the Nyam-Nyam tribe in the Bahr-el-Ghazel province on the border with the Belgian Congo in early 1905, was commemorated by the last bar that this example of the Sudan Medal bears. Its recipient (whose lost identity is discussed elsewhere) continued this already long service in Sudan after the period of award of this medal.
The medal forms part of what Lester Watson's catalogue lists as Group 1, and its provenance is discussed in the page for that group.