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Unit ID - Africa Service Medal EVIIR


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Gentlemen,

I have recently purchased an ASM EVIIR with clasps "Somaliland 1902-04" and "Jidballi" to:

Sepoy Hyde Ali (H.G.Arab) L.S.L.

Does anyone have any idea as to what these unit initials stand for?

It has been suggested "(Home Guard Arab) Local Somali Levy"?

Many thanks,

Owain

Edited by oamotme
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Guest pikemedals

hi mate i look in battles & medals by gordon.can,t find anything for you sorry mate will ask a few medals chaps i know good luck (best bet will be ed haynes)

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Thanks for the confidence, but Owain tried this on another forum and I came up empty there (too). Gordon, unfortunately, is so focused on UK units as to be of limited reliability for non-European units and the more exotic you get (like this), the less valuable it becomes.

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Thankyou - nonetheless nothing ventured nothing gained. I've had a look at Magor but no success - perhaps I will need to look at the PRO's Medal Roll File 171/56. Another visit to London. These exotic units are so much more fun - the chase for knowledge.......

Regards,

Owain

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Magor certainly lists Somali Levies for the Somaliland 1901 clasp, and there would be no reason to assume that they would have been disbanded given the local situation.

Overseas Expeditions from India shows that two corps of Somali Irregulars of 500 men each were raised. Interestingly, there was also a unit called the Gadabursi Horse - right initials, just the wrong way around.

Edited by Michael Johnson
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I'm leaning to the interpretation that the "H.G. Arab" is actually part of the recipient's name. I once had a Somaliland 1910 to the 6th K.A.R. The naming was partly erased, but seemed to read "Abdhamid H Y Musa".

This site seems to have similar names: http://www.somalilandpatriots.com/news-983-0

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Hello Owain

I suggest you get in touch with a fellow on the BMF named Eddie Parks. He specializes in medals to Arabs and arab units. I helped him aquire some nice Iraq levie medals and he and i began conversing on the subject of Arabs awarded british medals. He has a list of Arab units which may hold the answer to your inquiry.

I also have a book on the AGS that is very well written that i can look over and see if it holds any answers also.

But my GUESS is (H(onour) G(uard) Arab) Loyal Somali Levies

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"No all 'Indian Army' types"...

Ah HA. Does that not suggest, then, to seek obscure initials unit identification across the sea in the Sub-Continent?

Why would a local Somali levy have an Inidan rank otherwise? :catjava:

(Obscure mysteries attract me no matter where and what they are. :rolleyes: )

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Sepoy is a corruption of the Persian "sipahi", also used by the French "Spahis".

Linguistically true, but largely irrelevant. I was used widely for Indian-influenced armies in the Indian Ocean basin from the 19th-20th centuries.

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Sir,

at that period of time it was the norm for the Colonial Office to use LSL to represent 'Local Service List', signifying persons recruited/loaned for a specific purpose in a colony. Not just for military activity, but, for such as survey operations, police brought in from another colony or India for a multitude of reasons.

It had all to do with the actual funding of their pay and allowances, ie. the Army Bearer Corps from India that supported the Aden Boundary Commission were paid from The Aden Government Vote, not the Army of India.

In Chapter 7 'Campaigns Against the Mad Mullah of Somaliland' pp.160-194 of : MOYSE-BARTLETT Lt Col H., MBE, MA, PhD. The King's African Rifles A Study in the Military History of East and Central Africa, 1890-1945. Gale & Polden, Aldershot, 1956. HB, xix, 721p., photos, maps, index.

the fate of the Somali Levy, that had become a 'Militia' by 1902, and disintegrated that year.

The use of the rank 'Sepoy' is evidence that the man concerned belonged to a unit enlisted in British India or its dependencies. Remember that the King's African Rifles had a substantial component in its various battalions at that period of time enlisted in India. The term 'Arab' is seen in Indian Army and police records relating to those units drawn from Western India (now Pakistan), and the then Sultan of Muscat's territory of Baluchistan (also part of Pakistan now), with Gulf Arabs being enlisted. One would expect though that there would be a 'Regimental Number' shown before the rank.

In regard to Indian units in the 02-04 Somaliland Campaign, a comprehensive listing is contained within Frontier and Overseas Expeditions from India, Volume 7. Government Printing Press, Calcutta, 1911. Copies held by the National Army Museum and The Prince Consort's Library in Aldershot. Which include such oddities as Survey of India, Punjab Police, 15 Pack Mule Corps, 54 and 55 Silladar Camel Corps, and 56 Camel Corps of the (Indian Army) Supply and Transport Corps.

My relevant file shows two units that I have never found anything about, Arab Police Corps and Coast Camel Corps. Although they are frequently mentioned! Which could be a clue to the medal

In regard to comments re Gordon's British Battles and Medals. In a lecture he gave to the Society for Army Historical Research, he stressed the fact that the Colonial Office (now part of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office), had had a policy for many years not to allow access to medal rolls and ancillary related information (such as soldiers records) on colonial military operations.

This being the reason why Colonial unit information (not Dominion or Government of India) was so weak in his book. The last volume Gordon was actually associated with (and the best in my opinion of all those under his name) was the 4th (1971) even though it had a appalling dust jacket, as is the one (with many notes) that is one I personally use. He did use information from a variety of 'Odd Man Rolls'. He helped me prove the providence of a AGS Medal clasp Uganda 1900 to a 317 Trooper Mohamad Shan, Aden Troop, sold in the 1980's in the UK. He one of 52 "Rifles" of the Aden Camel Corps who served in this campaign in Eastern Uganda, and a Indian recruit.

In relation to military information relating to the former Colonies; all records held by the Governance was handed over directly to the new Governments, while the Colonial Office itself sent the majority of the records that they held to them (copying those of relevance, military records were in the main not considered worthy of the expense).

A elder brother now deceased, served as a subaltern/captain for four years with the Somaliland Scouts, until the enforced 'unification' of British Somaliland with the Italian Somali in 1960 by American political pressure. Those Somalis of the former British Administration (except the lower levels) were either executed or forced to flee the country, and those Somalis from the South disposed of the records of the former administration.

A visit this year to the functioning Nation of Somaliland, which broke from the Somali Republic some 17 years following a genocide campaign against them, revealed that they are constantly attempting to retrieve records of the former British Administration. Even though they are a function nation, the American Government has continually blocked attempts for them to be recognised as a independent nation, very odd.

My brother was in the process of completing a military history of British Somaliland (1888-1960), using records held in the National Army Museum on the Camel Corps and the subsequent Scouts, as well as the variety of other odd units in the early days. He had also received a quite huge volume of personal records and records of their service from a large number of former members (British and Somali). He unfortunately had a stroke, and when his wife left South Africa after his death, the box (amongst others) containing the very nearly completed text as well as all of the research resources (including a large number of audio and video tapes) was stolen!

Yours,

G/.

G.A.MACKINLAY

Yours,

G/.

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I think we can rule out the Camel Corps. Surely personnel seconded to such a unit would have been from Indian cavalry or similar units, and would have been Sowars?

The princely state of Hyderabad did recruit Arab mercenaries. Could that be the "H"?

Edited by Michael Johnson
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Gentleman. I feel that the H is for Hadhramout which was one of the Aden Trucial states (a sheikhdom under Indian control) don't forget that Aden and it's dependencies were controlled by India until independence and it would make sense of the Indian name and rank.

All the best,

Paul

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Gentlemen,

" Surely personnel seconded to such a unit would have been from Indian cavalry or similar units, and would have been Sowars?"

Whilst in the British Army there was a tradition of camel mounted infantry sub-units raised from cavalry (and Foot Guards, Infantry and Royal Marines), in the Armies of the Presidencies of India this was unheard of. At that period of time (and up to the 1930's) the Regiments of Indian Cavalry were raised on the 'Silladar' system, in which the cavalry recruit (the 'sowar'(trooper)) brought his own horse into service, and was paid for its upkeep and service, with a replacement paid for if it lost on military service.

There were no formally raised regiments of camel mounted troops in the various (British) Indian Armies, although in the 1854 Persian War (John Company's Last War) elements of infantry were mounted on camels. And during the Mutiny infantry again so mounted, in both ad hoc deployments. The various supply and transport corps though did have camel corps as pack animals, and also seen in photos drawing field artillery, and four wheeled wagons, or two wheeled carts.

A number of 'armies' of The Princely States had 'camel corps' that were fighting units, those that were eligible for ''Imperial Service' - outside of British India, were organised, armed and trained as mounted infantry to fight on foot ? their private soldiers, 'Sepoys'. It is very difficult to train troops to fight with the lance on camel back (swords to swords pointless), and they were (and are) ceremonial items. All so called 'camel charges' in a cavalry fashion during the Great War (and before) were just advances to contact using the camel as the mode of rapid transport, with the fighting on foot with rifle and bayonet. Although in Somaliland and in the Sudan, it well recorded that over the years the various camel corps formed square using the camels as a defensive wall.

Camel troops in the Princely Armies mainly vanished during the 1930's, and with the integration into the post-Independence India Army vanished (the Sultanate of Muscat's (now Oman) dependency of Bulchistan retained a Camel Corps until the Province handed over to Pakistan in 1958). The last battalion sized corps of the Princely Armies, the Bikaner Camel Corps (that also served in Somaliland) (merged with the Jaisalmer camel troops) became 13th battalion The Grenadiers, as a camel mounted battalion operating in the Western Deserts of India. The role was in 1975 passed to the Border Security Force, which unit (a reduced very light infantry battalion) when seen in 2005, they using the title 'Bikaner Camel Corps', and their Constables using the honorific 'Sowars'. Sowar(s) is now used in India to describe all soldiers, the army using 'Jawans'.

"The princely state of Hyderabad did recruit Arab mercenaries."

Following the Mutiny and the take over of Indian areas ruled by the Honourable East India Company, the British India Government forbad the enlistment of troops into the Princely Armies from outside of the now Indian Empire. Those Arabs serving at the time remained, whilst of course there were various types of ethnic Arabs domiciled within the area (and still are).

Hyderabad had only one actual involvement in British East African possession when the commander of the Indian raised force in the Nyasaland Protectorate in 1891, a Captain C.M.Macquire (a Imperial Service officer with the 2nd Hyderabad Lancers), took 30 Muslims from the 2 Regiments of Lancers, and 40 Sikhs from the 23rd and 32nd Pioneers (Indian Army) there. They quickly involved in four expeditions against the slave trade in the Protectorate.

"I feel that the H is for Hadhramout which was one of the Aden Trucial states (a sheikhdom under Indian control) don't forget that Aden and it's dependencies were controlled by India until independence and it would make sense of the Indian name and rank."

Aden was captured in January 1839 (and Perim Island, the key to the Red Sea entrance) by British troops from India, and subsequently garrisoned by Indian troops, in a remarkably similar situation today's conflict with Somali pirates. Aden was administered until 1936 by India when it became a colony. Its actual area was only legalised following the Aden Boundary Commission of 1903-04 that saw some very heavy fighting by British regiments. This then saw British influence and Protection given to the various fiefdoms (probably the best description) that existed in the region. These being given the titles of the 'Western Aden Protectorate' and the 'Eastern Aden Protectorate' which had the geographical title of Hadhramaut. The first had 20 different rulers, and the second over the period of 127 years of British influence at varying times between 22 and 36. These two never had any control from India, always British Colonial Office.

The Socotra archipelago became a British Protectorate following a Royal Navy expedition in 1885, following piracy incidents, and to stop the German Empire occupying it. It a strategic position for the movement of shipping to India and the Far East/Australasia. As a British Protectorate was administered from Aden(!), and is now part of The Yemen.

There was only ever enlistment of men from the Western Protectorate was at the time of The Great War (the 1st Yemen Infantry) which existed until 1928, then the RAF Levies (Aden) were raised (they had a camel section). There was no enlistments from the Eastern Protectorate, a Hadhrami Bedouin Legion was raised there in 1940. And when the Federal Regular Army of South Arabia Army was raised in 1961, again no recruits from the East. Today as part of The Yemen, the Hadhramaut is still a totally lawless area, with little control (apart from the coast) by the Government in Sana.

Having looked at it, I consider that the lack of a regimental number on the medal is of significance. Looking back at the AGS Medals of the era in my possession in the past, apart from those of bearers, or British civilian employee's all had such.

Yours,

G/.

G.A.MACKINLAY

Edited by gam47
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Gentlemen,

having looked at this message that I quickly did between patients yesterday, I think that possibily the following is open to misinterpretation :

"These being given the titles of the 'Western Aden Protectorate' and the 'Eastern Aden Protectorate' which had the geographical title of Hadhramaut. The first had 20 different rulers, and the second over the period of 127 years of British influence at varying times between 22 and 36. "

The meaning I meant was that the two Protectorates each had; 20 different 'states' with their own rulers, and the second over the period of 127 years of British influence at varying times between 22 and 36 different 'states' again each with their own rulers.

My apologies

Yours,

G/.

G.A.MACKINLAY

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