Naval General Service Medal (1847)

The Naval General Service Medal (NGSM) was a campaign medal approved in 1847, and issued to officers and men of the Royal Navy in 1849. The final date for submitting claims was 1 May 1851.[1] Admiral Thomas Bladen Capel was one of the members of the board that authorised the medal.

Naval General Service Medal
NGSM 1847 obv.pngNavalGSMrev.png
Obverse and reverse of the medal.
TypeCampaign medal
Awarded forCampaign service
DescriptionSilver disk, 36mm diameter
Presented byUnited Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland
EligibilityRoyal Navy
Campaign(s)Naval Actions 1793–1840
Clasps231 authorised, 221 issued
Ribbon: 32mm, white with dark blue edges
Medal awarded to Corporal Henry Castle, Royal Marines, with clasps ‘Trafalgar’ (HMS Britannia) and 'Java' (HMS Hussar)

The NGSM was awarded retrospectively for various naval actions during the period 1793–1840, a period that included the French Revolutionary Wars, the Napoleonic Wars and the Anglo-American War of 1812. Each battle or campaign covered by the medal was represented by a clasp on the ribbon. The medal was never issued without a clasp, 231 of which were sanctioned.[2] The clasps covered a variety of actions, from boat service, ship to ship skirmishes, to major fleet actions such as the Battle of Trafalgar.

This medal and its army counterpart, the Military General Service Medal, were amongst the first real British campaign medals, issued to all ranks for serving in combat actions.[3]


The medal was only awarded to surviving claimants. A combination of factors, from general illiteracy to limited publicity for the new medal meant that many did not apply for it. While next of kin could not apply on behalf of a deceased relative, they did receive the medal in cases where the claimant had died between their application and actual award.[1]

The belated nature of the award meant that, for many clasps, substantially fewer medals were issued when compared with the numbers present. Frequently the number of claimants for individual clasps was reckoned in single figures and for ten clasps there were no claimants.[2]

Sir John Hindmarsh and Admiral of the Fleet Sir James Gordon were awarded medals with seven clasps, the most awarded to any individual. Four men qualified for six clasps and fourteen for five clasps.[4]

A baby born on board HMS Tremendous during the battle of the Glorious First of June, christened Daniel Tremendous McKenzie, applied for and received the medal with the '1 June 1794' clasp.[5] Jane Townshend, a woman aboard HMS Defiance at the Battle of Trafalgar, had her application for the medal initially approved. The medal was not finally awarded however, with the roll of recipients endorsed "upon further consideration this can not be allowed". An award may have set a precedent for claims by other women, mainly wives of sailors present during naval actions.[6]

A total of 126 awards were made to officers and men of the British Army, present on board HM's ships at qualifying actions. This included 26 with the 'Copenhagen 1801' clasp and 50 with the 'Syria' clasp. Of these recipients, 8 officers and 18 men also received the Military General Service Medal.[7]

The Admiralty awarded 20,933 medals in total,[4] 15,577 with a single clasp.[2]


The medal, designed by William Wyon, is of silver and 1.4 inches (36 mm) in diameter.[2]

  • Obverse: a left facing effigy of Queen Victoria with the inscription "VICTORIA REGINA" and the date “1848”.
  • Reverse: The figure of Britannia, holding a trident, seated on a seahorse.
  • Naming: The name of the recipient is impressed on the rim in block Roman capitals. Medals to officers and warrant officers also include the recipient's rank.[2]
  • Ribbon: The 1.25 inches (32 mm) wide ribbon is white, with dark blue edges,[2] based on the ribbon previously used for the Naval Gold Medal.[8]


A total of 231 clasps were authorised, including 176 for specific actions and 55 for Boat Service, that is service in ships' boats when boarding enemy ships or as part of a shore raiding party.[2]

French Revolutionary WarsEdit

Clasp Battle or action Date Comments
Nymphe 18 June 1793 Capture of French frigate Cleopatre 18 June 1793 Britain vs. France
Crescent 20 Octr. 1793 Capture of French frigate Reunion 20 October 1793 Britain vs. France
Zebra 17 March 1794 Capture of Fort Saint Louis (Martinique) 20 March 1794 Britain vs. France
17 Mar. Boat Service 1794 Capture of the French frigate Bienvenue and other vessels in Fort Royal Bay (Martinique) 20 March 1794 Britain vs. France
Carysfort 29 May 1794 Recapture of HMS Castor 29 May 1794 Unissued
Britain vs France
1 June 1794 Glorious First of June 1 June 1794 Britain vs France
Romney 17 June 1794 Capture of French frigate Sibylle 17 June 1794 Britain vs France
Blanche 4 Jany. 1795 Capture of French frigate Pique 5 January 1795 Britain vs France
Lively 13 March 1795 Capture of French frigate Tourterelle 13 March 1795 Britain vs France
14 March 1795 Naval Battle of Genoa (1795) 14 March 1795 Britain & Naples vs France
Mosquito 9 June 1795 Capture of privateer 9 June 1795 Unissued (vessel and crew lost soon after)
16-17 June 1795 Cornwallis's Retreat 17 June 1795 Britain vs France
23 June 1795 Battle of Groix 23 June 1795 Britain vs France
Dryad 13 June 1796 Capture of Proserpine 13 June 1796 Britain vs France
St. Vincent Battle of Cape St Vincent (1797) 14 February 1797 Britain vs Spain
San Fiorenzo 8 March 1797 Capture of Résistance 9 March 1797 Britain vs France
29 May Boat Service 1797 Boats of Minerve and Lively capture French corvette Mutine 29 May 1797 Britain vs France
Camperdown Battle of Camperdown 11 October 1797 Britain vs Holland
Nile Battle of the Nile 1–3 August 1798 Britain vs France
12 Octr. 1798 Battle of Tory Island 12 October 1798 Britain vs France
Telegraph 18 March 1799 Capture of French privateer Hirondelle 18 March 1799 Unissued
Britain vs France
Arrow 13 Sepr. 1799 Capture of Draak and Gier 13 September 1799 Britain vs Batavian Republic
Wolverine 13 Sepr. 1799 Capture of Draak and Gier 13 September 1799 Unissued
Britain vs Batavian Republic
Courier 23 Novr. 1799 Capture of French privateer Guerrier 23 November 1799 Britain vs. France
Egypt Battle of Abukir (1801), Battle of Alexandria (1801), Siege of Alexandria (1801) March – September 1801 Britain vs France
Copenhagen Battle of Copenhagen (1801) 2 April 1801 Britain vs Denmark-Norway
Gut of Gibraltar 12 July 1801 Battle of Algeciras Bay 12 July 1801 Britain vs France & Spain

Napoleonic WarsEdit

Clasp Battle or action Date Comments
Beaver 31 March 1804 Boats of Scorpion and Beaver captured the Dutch brig Atalante 31 March 1804 Unissued
Britain vs Batavian Republic
Scorpion 31 March 1804 Boats of Scorpion and Beaver captured the Dutch brig Atalante 31 March 1804 Britain vs Batavian Republic
San Fiorenzo 14 Feby. 1805 Capture of Psyché 14 February 1805 Britain vs France
Trafalgar Battle of Trafalgar 21 October 1805 Britain vs France & Spain
4 Novr. 1805 Battle of Cape Ortegal 4 November 1805 Britain vs France
St. Domingo Battle of San Domingo 6 February 1806 Britain vs France
Blanche 18 July 1806 Capture of French frigate Guerriere 18 July 1806 Britain vs France
21 Jan. Boat Service 1807 Boats of Galatea vs French corvette Lynx 21 January 1807 Britain vs France
19 April Boat Service 1807 Boats of Richmond capture a privateer 19 April 1807 Unissued
Britain vs. France
Ann 24 Novr. 1807 Capture of Spanish lugger privateer and action with ten gunboats and surrender of two 24 November 1807 Unissued
Britain vs Spain
Sappho 2 March 1808 Capture of brig Admiral Yawl 2 March 1808 Britain vs Denmark-Norway
San Fiorenzo 8 March 1808 Capture of Piémontaise 8 March 1808 Britain vs France
28 Nov. Boat Service 1808 Boats of Heureux attack a battery and capture a brig and a schooner 29 November 1808 Britain vs France
Onyx 1 Jany. 1809 Recapture of Manly 1 January 1809 Britain vs the Batavian Republic
Martinique Invasion of Martinique (1809) 30 January – 24 February 1809 Britain vs France
Basque Roads 1809 Battle of the Basque Roads 11–25 April 1809 Britain vs France
25 July Boat Service 1809 Boats of Fawn in action with a cutter and the schooner Guadaloupe, which they captured 25 July 1809 Unissued
Britain vs France
25 July Boat Service 1809 Boats of Cerberus, Minotaur, Princess Caroline, and Prometheus capture Russian gunboats near Fredrikshamn, Gulf of Finland 25 July 1809 Britain vs Russia
Guadaloupe Invasion of Guadeloupe (1810) 28 January – 6 February 1810 Britain vs France
Thistle 10 Feby. 1810 Capture of Havik 10 February 1810 Unissued
Britain vs The Netherlands
Boat engagement, Christian 7th Boats from HMS Christian VII, under Sir Joseph Sydney Yorke, HMS Armide and HMS Seine, attack 9 French gun-boats in the Basque Roads, capturing 1. 13 February 1810 Britain vs France
Arrow 6 April 1811 Action with chasse-marees and batteries off the French coast 6 April 1811 Unissued
Britain vs France
Java Invasion of Java (1811) August – September 1811 Britain vs The Netherlands
Lissa Battle of Lissa (1811) 13 March 1811 Britain vs France and Venice
Anholt 27 March 1811 Battle of Anholt 27 March 1811 Britain vs Denmark-Norway
Off Mardoe 6 July 1812 Battle of Lyngør 6 July 1812 Britain vs Denmark-Norway
21 March Boat Service 1813 Boats of Brev Drageren and Blazer capture gunboats Jonge-Troutman and Liebe 21 March 1813 Britain vs Denmark
St Sebastian Siege of San Sebastián August – September 1813 Britain & Portugal vs France
Cyane 16 Jany. 1814 Capture of Alcmène & Iphigénie 16 January 1814 Britain vs France

War of 1812Edit

Clasp Battle or action Date Comments
April & May Boat Service 1813 Boats of Marlborough, Maidstone, Dragon, Statira, Dolphin, Fantome, Mohawk, Highflyer, and Racer destroyed cannon foundry at French Town and batteries at Havre-de-Grace 28 April and 5 May
8 April Boat Service 1814 Boats of La Hogue, Endymion, Maidstone, and Boxer destroyed 27 American vessels and a quantity of stores up the Connecticut River 8 April 1814
Shannon Wh. Chesapeake Shannon vs Chesapeake 1 June 1813
Pelican 14 Augt. 1813 Capture of USS Argus 14 August 1813
Phoebe 28 March 1814 Capture of USS Essex and Essex Junior (Ex-Atlantic) 28 March 1814
Cherub 28 March 1814 Capture of USS Essex and Essex Junior (Ex-Atlantic) 28 March 1814
The Potomac 17 Augt. 1814 Seahorse, Euryalus, Devastation, Aetna, Meteor, Erebus, Fairy, and Anna Maria at Alexandria (Virginia) and destruction of shipping in the Potomac River 17 August 1814
3 & 6 Sept. Boat Service 1814 Boats on Lake Huron captured American schooners Tigress and Scorpion 3 & 6 September 1814
14 Dec. Boat Service 1814 Battle of Lake Borgne; boats of 16 British warships captured five American gunboats and a sloop 14 December 1814
Endymion Wh. President Endymion vs President 15 January 1815

Later battles or actionsEdit

Clasp Battle or action Date Comments
Algiers Bombardment of Algiers 27 August 1816 Britain & The Netherlands vs Dey of Algiers
Navarino Battle of Navarino 20 October 1827 Britain, France & Russia vs Ottoman Empire
Syria Syrian War November 1840 Britain, with Austria, the Ottoman Empire, and Russia vs Egypt
This is the most common clasp, with 6,978 issued[9]


  1. ^ a b British Battles and Medals, page 34.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g British Battles and Medals, page 33.
  3. ^ Ribbons and Medals, page 12.
  4. ^ a b Medals Yearbook 2005, page 128.
  5. ^ Observer's Book of British Awards, page 76
  6. ^ Ribbons and Medals, page 57.
  7. ^ British Battles and Medals, pages 34-35.
  8. ^ Ribbons and Medals, page 53.
  9. ^ British Battles and Medals, page 57


  • Dorling, H. Taprell (1956). Ribbons and Medals. London: A.H.Baldwin & Sons. OCLC 930416375.</ref>
  • Joslin, Edward C, Observer's Book of British Awards and Medals, (1974), Frederick Warne & Co ISBN 0723215383
  • Joslin, Litherland, and Simpkin (eds), British Battles and Medals, (1988), Spink ISBN 0907605257
  • Mackay, J and Mussell, J (eds). Medal Yearbook – 2005, (2004), Token Publishing.

External linksEdit