Sunday 20 August 2023

The Queen's Mediterranean Medal

The Queen's Mediterranean Medal was approved by King Edward VII (Army Order 32 1902) to recognise the service of militia battalions sent to serve in garrisons in the Mediterranean. No clasps were awarded with the medal.

If a soldier served at all in South Africa and also in the Mediterranean then they were awarded the The Queen's South Africa with clasps as appropriate. 

The medal roll for the The Queen's Mediterranean Medal is WO100-368.

The militia battalions of the regular army regiments could not be sent overseas unless they first volunteered. Such was the enthusiasm to serve Queen and Empire in 1899 many militia battalions volunteered to serve overseas. Some were sent to fight in South Africa, others were sent to replace regular battalions sent to the war in their garrison stations. The majority were sent to Malta and Gozo, one battalion was sent to Egypt. These battalions did not, as if often stated, guard Boer prisoners of war. There were no Boer POWs on Malta, Gozo or in Egypt. Some militia battalions did guard Boer POWs on St Helena - these men were awarded the Queen's South Africa medal without clasp.

Unit Location Number on Roll Medals Issued
Royal Garrison Artillery not shown 1 1
King's Own Yorkshire Light Infantry, 3rd battalion Malta & Gozo June 1901-February 1902 753 766
Loyal North Lancashire Regiment, 3rd battalion Malta 1900-1901 202 not shown
Northumberland Fusiliers, 5th battalion Malta 1900-1901 579 560
Royal Munster Fusiliers, 5th battalion Malta & Gozo 1901 548 542
Royal West Kent Regiment, 3rd battalion Malta 1900-1901 1152 975
Seaforth Highlanders, 3rd battalion Citadel Barracks, Cairo February 1900 - May 1901 821 794
West Yorkshire Regiment, 3rd battalion Malta 1901-1902 880 868

The second page of the roll states "Total OR [other rank] issues 4,711". The issue numbers above, assuming 202 issued for the Loyal North Lancashire Rgt , show a total of 4,708 medals (officers and attached personnel included) were issued. The number of medals issued is taken from the numbers issued as recorded on the rolls, it doesn't take into account medals forfeited after issue or medals returned. The actual number of medals that could be in existence will be slightly less.

The 3rd Loyal North Lancashire Rgt arrived on Malta in January 1900 and left for the war in South Africa on March 2nd, 1901. This accounts for the small number of Mediterranean medals issued to the battalion.

The 3rd Seaforth Highlanders were stationed in Cairo alongside their regimental comrades of the regular army, the 1st battalion. It is ironic that, while performing the same duties, only one battalion received a medal and the other didn't.

A number of officers were attached to some of the battalions above, and two Armourer Sergeants of the Army Ordnance Corps were attached:

Officers attached to King's Own Yorkshire Light Infantry  
Bedfordshire Regiment 1
Border Regiment 1
Connaught Rangers 1
Derbyshire Regiment 1
Hampshire Regiment 1
King's (Liverpool) Regiment 2
Lancashire Fusiliers 1
Leicestershire Regiment 1
Middlesex Regiment 1
Rifle Brigade 1
Royal Fusiliers 1
Royal Munster Fusiliers  1
West Surrey Regiment 1
Worcestershire Regiment 1
Officers attached to the Royal West Kent Rgt  
King's (Liverpool) Regiment 1
Manchester Regiment 1
Army Ordnance Corps (two NCOs) attached to  2
Royal Munster Fusiliers   
The Queen's Own (Royal West Kent Regiment)  
West Yorkshire Regiment  

The table shows the number of deaths that occurred in these battalions during this period. The majority died in Malta or Cairo, a few died in England and one at sea. These casualties are not included in the official casualty rolls and those publications that simply copied the rolls.

Royal Garrison Artillery 0
King's Own Yorkshire Light Infantry, 3rd battalion 4
Loyal North Lancashire Regiment, 3rd battalion 0
Northumberland Fusiliers, 5th battalion 5
Royal Munster Fusiliers, 5th battalion 0
Royal West Kent Regiment, 3rd battalion 9
Seaforth Highlanders, 3rd battalion 9
West Yorkshire Regiment, 3rd battalion 1            

The vast majority of Mediterranean Medals appear as singles, they do exist in groups but they are rare. Many men of the rolls enlisted in a wide variety of regular army units. No doubt many Mediterranean veterans served in World War 1. Re-uniting a Mediterranean Medal with other medals, usually WW1 medals is not easy. The example below to Robert Francis illustrates the problem.

The Mediterranean Medal is named to Pte 484 Royal West Kent Rgt, the British War Medal, which is sole entitlement for WW1 is named to Pte 25964 Essex Rgt. The only service papers traced are for his service in the West Kents. The medals were sold by DNW in 1996 "mounted for wear", when they reappeared in 2016, still a pair, they were not mounted and the Mediterranean Medal had new ribbon.

Fortunately for researchers he was issued a Silver War Badge (B328322) which is missing. The SWB roll gives his age as 43 on discharge in 1919. The birth year of 1876 matches exactly that derived from the WO96 service papers for his West Kent service.

The complete medal roll and casualty roll for the Queen's Mediterranean Medal is available on The Register:

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