Greg Ruby published an article highlighting the Afghanistan Campaign Medal on May 30, 2016, in his blog The Fourth Garrideb -
Numismatics of Sherlock Holmes. The discussion was triggered from a comment by Holmes' assistant Dr. Watson in the story A
Study in Scarlet (STUD). Here's an excerpt; be sure to read the complete article online.
The article was originally published in the Spring 2016 issue of The Watsonian, Volume 4, Number 1. The Watsonian is
the official publication of the John H Watson Society. -Editor
“The campaign brought honours and promotion to many, but for me it had nothing but misfortune and disaster.”
With that comment, within the first two hundred words of STUD, we are given a strong viewpoint of Dr Watson’s regarding his
participation in the Second Anglo-Afghanistan War of 1878 – 1880. That said, Dr Watson was honoured, as were all surviving troops that took
part in the skirmishes of that conflict, for service to Queen and country.
Dr Watson wrote that, in 1878 after getting his Doctor of Medicine from the University of London, he underwent training, at Netley, for
surgeons in the army and became attached to the Fifth Northumberland Fusiliers as an Assistant Surgeon. Before he could meet up with them
in India, the Second Afghan War had broken out. Assuming that Dr Watson would join his fellow troops in early 1879, there is no mention of
his participation in any military actions until he “served at the fatal battle of Maiwand.”
Elliott Kimball, author of Dr John H Watson At Netley, theorizes that Watson began his studies at Netley in October 1879 and
finished them in March of 1880. According to Kimball, Watson was travelling on the Continent for personal reasons from June 1878 until
October 1879. Utilizing these dates could justify that Watson’s first military action was at Maiwand on July 27, 1880.
Watson’s service in Afghanistan makes him eligible to receive the Afghanistan Medal, a 36mm round, silver medal (some examples are known
in bronze), with a 33mm wide dark green ribbon with crimson on both edges. The medal hangs from a plain suspender that has a double toe
claw to hold the medal.
A left-facing bust of Queen Victoria is on the obverse (or front) of the medal. The legend of VICTORIA REGINA ET IMPERATRIX is around
the border of the design. This profile of Victoria was designed by Joseph Boehm.
The central design of the reverse (or back) of the medal features an elephant carrying a cannon, with soldiers, marching and on
horseback Below this is the dates 1878-79-80. In the upper left, above the design, is the word AFGHANISTAN. This design was done by
Randolph Caldecott, an illustrator of children’s books.
The medal was engraved by Leonard Wyon of the British Royal Mint.
To read the complete article, see:
Dr. Watson’s Afghanistan Campaign Medal
Wayne Homren, Editor
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