Jellalabad Medal 1842, Mural Crown obverse, 1st Type, unnamed as issued.
Fitted with a sturdy silver bar suspension, contact marking through wearing.
This rare early medal was issued on behalf of the British East India Company, circa 1842, for service in the Defence of “Jalalabad” between 12th November 1841 to 7th April 1842.
The siege was fought during the First Anglo Afghanistan War of 1839-42, the medal being awarded to only the 2596 soldiers who took part in the campaign.
These soldiers included the British Regiment the 13th Foot or Prince Alfred Own Somerset Light Infantry, the 35th Bengal Native Infantry and some additional detachments from other Indian Army Units as well as some loyal local Afghani Forces, the other Bengal Unites were as Squadron of the 1st Skinner’s Horse, Shah Shujah’s Sappers and some Artillery on attachment from the Bengal Field Artillery.
The unusual medal was not massively popular, as it was hastily produced at the Calcutta Mint.
The man who had authorised the medal, Lord Ellenborough, was however also dissatisfied with the design and apparently too few were produced and not enough were available to send to the next of kin who had died during the war.
It was then decided that William Wyon would produce at the Royal Mint in London, the 2nd Type known as the “Flying Victory”, however most soldiers opted to keep the original medal, this particular Soldier has clearly worn his hard earned medal with pride over many years and had the original steel clip removed for a more practical and long lasting suspension bar.
The Siege of Jellalabad, was a heroic defence fought in the isolated British outpost at what is now Jalalabad, located about 90 miles east of Kabul.
The men spent 5 months under siege from a large Afghan Forces, before a British counterattack finally routed the Afghan Army, driving them back to Kabul.
“The outpost was no more than a wide place in the road with a Fort, held by about 2,000 troops under command of General Sir Robert Sale.
After the massacre of the British Force during during their retreat from Kabul in January 1842, Jellallabad was surrounded by Afghan forces, which launched a series of attacks on the force. The British managed to beat off the assaults, and even captured 300 sheep from the besieging force when rations ran short. Eventually, after five months under siege, Sale mounted an attack against the Afghan forces, captured their main camp, baggage, stores, guns, and horses and the Afghans fled to Kabul.”
Following the lifting of the siege, the only British Regiment Present, the 13th Somersets, became heroes of the day, as the regiment marched back through India to return home after the campaign, every garrison apparently fired a 10 gun salute in their honour.
Queen Victoria herself also directed that the regiment would now be designated as Light Infantry, and carry the title of “Prince Albert’s Own”, additionally earning themselves a badge with the walls of the town and the world “Jellalabad”.
Back in Taunton, the Army Barracks in Somerset, was named Jellalabad Barracks in their honour.