Saturday, 2 June 2012

Harp Madalyasi – The Gallipoli Star Medal

A Gallipoli Star 1915 Turkish Taken in Action. Known to the Turks as the "Harp Madalyasi" and to the Allied soldiers as "The Gallipoli Star" - this scarce and historic Ottoman Empire WWI Badge of Honour was created in 1915 as an award of merit specific to the action at Gallipoli in World War I.

This example was taken by a New Zealand soldier after the Turks were evicted from the Palestine area in 1916. According to the survivors of the estate, the building had been shelled and a lot of personal items were left behind. This could also explain the plating being patchy in some places - the heat of battle - literally! Overall, this is still a fully intact medal with the pin device intact and no breaks or cracks. Strictly speaking, this medal was not a campaign medal, but a medal for military merit. The War Medal was the "entry level" gallantry award of the Turkish military in World War I, ranking below the silver Liyakat Medal. This medal is often referred to by nicknames, such as the "Gallipoli Star" in English, or the "Eiserner Halbmond" (Iron Crescent) in German.

 The medal is star shaped, approximately 56 mm. across, with ball finials, a raised silver edge and red field in lacquer or enamel. A raised crescent, open at the top, encircles the center of the badge, and inside the crescent is the tughra of Sultan Mehmed Reshad V, over the date "1333" (1915). The back of the medal is blank, with either a horizontal pin brooch or two vertical open hooks to attach it to the left breast of the uniform. This has a pin device on it. The original issue pieces of this award came in two varieties: silvered brass with red enamel or white metal with thin red lacquer. Those issued to officers were enameled, and were manufactured by a company that used the mark "BB&Co.", an unknown maker reputedly located in Berlin. These "BB&Co." were issued to officers, while the plain lacquered variety and, sometimes, even seen without any red lacquer at all were issued to other ranks. "BB&Co." examples in solid silver have also been seen.

 This one is the variety which has NO red lacquer as you can see and , therefore had to be issued to the common soldier who, after all, did the most damn suffering anyhow! In the areas where the silver plating has lifted, one can see the darkness of the underlying bronze as per the specifications. This decoration is the only Ottoman decoration which not awarded by authority of the Sultan, but rather was authorized by Enver Pasha, the Commander-in-Chief of the Ottoman military. Thus, the award documents do not bear the tughra of the Sultan. After the war, Sultan Mehmed VI officially recognized the medals as having been awarded by his will. Enver Pasha was by that time a despised outlaw living in exile. This is a rare and classic medal from Gallipoli that was captured in battle!

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