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3rd China Medal 1900 - HMS ENDYMION

Guest Darrell

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Guest Darrell

Finally back into the Victorian fold again smilewinkgrin.gif The following Medal is the 3rd China War Medal issued for actions in 1900 against the Chinese.

This was one of the last medals issued during the reign of Queen Victoria. First up a little background on the medal itself:

The China War Medal 1900 was a British campaign medal approved in 1901 for issue to British and Imperial land and sea troops who fought during the Boxer Rebellion of 1900. Issued in silver to combatants and in bronze to native, namely Indian, bearers drivers and servants, it could be issued without a clasp or with one or more of the following;

Taku Forts

Awarded to naval personnel of the British contingent of the international fleet involved in the attack of the Taku forts along the Peiho River

Defence of Legations

Awarded to 80 Royal Marines and several 'odd' men of the British Legation Guard, who aided the defence of the Legation Quarter in Peking for 55 days.

Relief of Pekin

Awarded to British and Indian army personnel and to men of the Royal Navy involved in the relief of the Legations in Peking as part of the international relief force commanded by Count Alfred von Waldersee or as part of Edward Seymour's Naval Brigade.

The medal used the same reverse as the two previous China War medals, a trophy-of-arms, with the obverse consisting of the bust of Queen Victoria.

The medal was awarded to 555 naval personnel of the Colonial Navies of Australia without a clasp: 256 men with the New South Wales Contingent, 197 with the Victorian, and 102 on the South Australian gunboat Protector.

A little background on what the 3rd China War (also known as the "Boxer" rebellion) was all about and who was involved:

Boxer Rebellion

The Boxer Rebellion, also called The Boxer Uprising by some historians or the Righteous Harmony Society Movement in northern China, was a proto-nationalist movement by the "Righteous Harmony Society" or "Righteous Fists of Harmony" or "Society of Righteous and Harmonious Fists" (known as "Boxers" in English), in China between 1898 and 1901, opposing Western imperialism and Christianity. The uprising took place in response to European "spheres of influence" in China, with grievances ranging from opium traders, political invasion, economic manipulation, to missionary evangelism. In China, popular sentiment remained resistant to Western influences, and anger rose over the "unequal treaties", which the weak Qing state could not resist. There existed growing concerns that missionaries and Chinese Christians could use this decline to their advantage, appropriating lands and property of unwilling Chinese peasants to give to the church. This sentiment resulted in violent revolts against Western interests.

Among ordinary Chinese, the Boxers enjoyed massive popular support. However, perceptions of the Boxers, among 20th century Chinese intellectuals and modern scholars, remains nuanced, complex, and contentious. The failures of the Boxer Rebellion initially humiliated educated Chinese nationalists, who disdained them for their superstition and aggression. Sun Yat-sen "praised the Boxers for their spirit of resistance" but "called the Boxers 'bandits', as many educated Chinese of his generation did". Students of the era shared an ambivalent attitude to the Boxers, stating that while the uprising originated from the "ignorant and stubborn people of the interior areas", the beliefs were "brave and righteous", and could "be transformed into a moving force for independence". Western intellectuals remained sympathetic to the Boxers. Mark Twain said that "The Boxer is a patriot. He loves his country better than he does the countries of other people. I wish him success." And, as fervor against the Qing state rose, educated Chinese too became sympathetic to the Boxers. Chen Duxiu forgave the "barbarism of the Boxer... given the crime foreigners committed in China", and contended that it was those "subservient to the foreigners" that truly "deserved our resentment".

The Boxers called foreigners "Guizi", a deprecatory term, and condemned Chinese Christian converts and Chinese working for Westerners By 1898, spurred on by state fiscal collapse and natural disasters, the Boxers emerged out of Shandong, violently targeting Christian mission compounds. Initially, they were suppressed by the Qing Dynasty, but the two sides reconciled and attempted to expel foreign influence from China, fighting under the anti-imperialist slogan ("Support Qing, destroy the Western").

In 1900, Boxer fighters besieged the foreign embassies in Beijing. They were lightly armed, claiming supernatural invulnerability towards blows of cannon, rifle gunshots, and knife attacks. In response, the initially hesitant Empress Dowager Cixi, urged by the conservatives of the Imperial Court, supported the Boxers and declared war on foreign powers. Diplomats, foreign civilians, soldiers and Chinese Christians retreated to the Legation Quarter where they remained under siege for 55 days until the Eight-Nation Alliance brought 20,000 armed troops to defeat the besieging Imperial Army. During the siege, pro foreign Imperial army units under Prince Qing fought against the anti foreign Imperial army units besieging the foreigners, in addition, the supreme commander of the Chinese forces, Ronglu, was pro foreign himself and acted in a way that prevented Chinese success. The Boxer Protocol of 7 September 1901 ended the uprising and provided for severe punishments, including an indemnity of 67-million pounds (450 million teals of silver, to be paid as indemnity over a course of 39 years) to the eight nations involved.

The medal shown below was awarded to W.J. READ who was an Ordinary Seaman posted on the HMS Endymion.

As will be illustrated later, the rolls show he was entitled to both the Medal and the RELIEF of PEKIN clasp (as described above).

A little background on the HMS ENDYMION before I show the medal itself.

HMS Endymion (1891)

HMS Endymion was a first class cruiser of the Edgar class. She was launched on 22 July 1891. She took part in suppressing the Boxer Rebellion in China, during which time future rear admiral and VC recipient Eric Gascoigne Robinson served aboard her. She served in the First World War in the Gallipoli Campaign, and was sold for breaking up at Cardiff on 16 March 1920.

Builder: C&W Earle

Hull Laid down: 21 November 1889

Launched: 22 July 1891

Fate: Sold for breaking up 16 March 1920

General characteristics Displacement: 7,350 tons

Length: 387.5 ft (118.1 m)

Beam: 60 ft (18 m)

Armament: 2 x BL 9.2-inch (233.7 mm) Mk VI guns,10 x QF 6 inch (152.4mm) guns, 12 x 6 pdr guns

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Guest Darrell

A couple of pictures of the Medal Rolls.

First the cover page of the rolls showing how the roll uses a numbering system of 1, 2 or 3 depending on what Clasp entitlements for the following listing of personnel.

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