Ottoman War Medal

German-made version of the Ottoman War Medal, often mistakenly referred to as the 'Gallipoli Star' by Anzac and British troops. These medals were highly sought-after battlefield 'souvenirs' amongst New Zealand and Australian troopers in the Sinai and Palestine. They were taken from dead or captured Ottoman soldiers whenever they were found on them.

The Ottoman War Medal was a gallantry decoration officially instituted by order of the Sultan on 1 March 1915. In the centre of the badge inside the crescent is the cypher of Sultan Mehmed V and characters representing the words, 'The Victorious'. Below this is the Muslim calendar date 1333 - equivalent to the year 1915 in the western Gregorian calendar. It was awarded for distinguished war service and officers and enlisted personnel from both the Ottoman Army and Navy were eligible to receive it. Military personnel from the Ottoman Empire's wartime allies, Germany, Austria-Hungary and Bulgaria, could also be awarded it.

New Zealand and Australian troops didn't really become aware of the award's existence until after the fighting at Gallipoli had ended as it was only in the Sinai and Palestine campaigns that they encountered large numbers of Ottoman prisoners of war. This, together with the '1915' date on the badge appears to have led the Anzacs to conclude (incorrectly) that it was somehow connected to the Gallipoli campaign (it wasn't).

Although the medal was officially issued as a single class of award there were some variations in its manufacture with zinc, iron and other base metals all being used by different producers. There was also enormous variation in the quality of the red enamel used. To add to the mix hand-crafted high quality versions using silver metal were made by jewellers for private purchase by officers not content with a mass-produced badge.

Credit

Private collection

How to cite this page: 'Ottoman War Medal', URL: http://www.nzhistory.net.nz/media/photo/gallipoli-star, (Ministry for Culture and Heritage), updated 3-Apr-2014

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