Abyssinian War Medal

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Abyssinian War Medal
1868 Abyssinian Campaign Medal (RLH).png
Obverse and reverse of the medal
Awarded by UK
TypeCampaign medal
EligibilityBritish and British Indian Army
Awarded forCampaign Service
Campaign(s)1868 Expedition to Abyssinia
Established1 March 1869
Next (higher)New Zealand Medal
Next (lower)Canada General Service Medal
Abyssinian War Medal BAR.svg
Ribbon bar of the medal

The Abyssinian War Medal was awarded for service between 4 October 1867 and 19 April 1868[1] to those who participated in the 1868 Expedition to Abyssinia. This punitive expedition, led by Lieutenant-General Sir Robert Napier, was carried out by armed forces of the British Empire against the Ethiopian Empire. Emperor Tewodros II of Ethiopia, imprisoned several missionaries and two representatives of the British government.[2] The punitive expedition launched by the British in response required the transportation of a sizable military force hundreds of miles across mountainous terrain lacking any road system.

About 14,000 medals were awarded, 12,000 to the British and Indian armies and 1,981 to the Royal Navy[3]


The medal is silver, 1.25 inches (32 mm) in diameter. It was designed by Joseph and Alfred Wyon, and struck at the Royal Mint.[4] The medal is unique in that the recipient's name and unit were embossed on the reverse of the medal. This feature required that the dies for the reverse had to have a removable center so each recipient's name and unit could be impressed, with each medal minted individually.[3][5]

The obverse bears the left facing effigy of a diademed Queen Victoria. Around the edge is a stylised border with indentions, between the indentions are the letters ABYSSINIA. The bust is similar to that on the New Zealand Medal issued in the same year.[4]

The reverse has a blank central shield, for stamping the recipient's name and unit, surrounded by a laurel wreath.[4]

The medal is held by a ring suspension attached to a crown surmounting the medal. The medal is borne upon a crimson ribbon 1.5 inches (38 mm) wide, with white borders.[4]


  1. ^ United Kingdom: Abyssinian War Medal, Medals of the World, retrieved 28 December 2010
  2. ^ Abyssinian War Medal awarded to AB Seaman T. Simpkin of HMS Spiteful, 1869. Archived 2012-03-19 at the Wayback Machine, The Fitzwilliam Museum, retrieved 28 December 2010
  3. ^ a b Joslin, Litherland and Simpkin. British Battles and Medals. p. 145. Published Spink, London. 1988.
  4. ^ a b c d Mayo, John Horsley (1897). Medals and Decorations of the British Army and Navy, Volume 2. A. Constable. p. 395.
  5. ^ "An unusual Abyssinia Medal". The Royal Mint Museum. Retrieved 1 April 2013.