Saturday, 18 September 2010

Medal for Bravery and Loyalty Guinea 1869-1870

The Dutch Medal for Bravery and Loyalty Guinea 1869-1870 ("Medaille voor Moed en Trouw Guinea 1869-1870") was instituted by a Royal Disposition ("Koninklijk Kabinetsbesluit") of 31 October 1870, No. 38. It was meant as a reward for "natives who had disthinguished themselves with actions of bravery and loyalty during the expedition to the Coast of Guinea in the years 1869 and 1870". The decision to institute the medal was directly linked to the fact that the only medal the Dutch government had to honour 'native' soldiers in its colonial forces, the Medal for Bravery and Loyalty, was expressly intended for soldiers of the Netherlands East Indies Army, as a reward for actions in the Netherlands East Indies.

In 1868, the Dutch and the British reorganised their respective possessions in the Gold Coast (the Coast of Guinea). They redivided them in such a manner, that both nations controlled a continuous strip of land for the first time in over 200 years. The Dutch took over all British possessions to the west of Elmina, and the British took over all Dutch possessions to the East of Cape Coast. In the negotiations leading up to this repartition, the local African polities were hardly consulted, and protests against possible negative political and social-economic effects were brushed aside. Eventually this led to several uprisings in the new Dutch territories, especially in and around Komenda and Sekondi. The Dutch sent an expeditionary force to quash the unrest, and a small colonial war was fought out. In this war, the local Dutch garrison was also involved.

When the war was over, it was felt that several soldiers from the local garrison deserved a medal, for which there was no provision. The new medal amended this. On 10 November 1870, the medals were awarded to the following men:

Pieter van Chama, sergeant
Alexander Prins, corporal
Esson Koffie, private
Ekrom Kwakoe II, private
Jan Plange, private
Kondua Robbena, private
Pieter Robbena, private East Indies Army

With only seven people decorated, the medal has the distinction of being the rarest Dutch official decoration.

The medal itself is hexagonal, made in bronze, and 30 millimetre in width. The front is adorned with the coat of arms of the Kingdom of the Netherlands and the insription "MOED EN TROUW 1869-1870". The back carries the inscription "COMMENDAH. ANDEMA-ATJIRM. KWASSIE-KROM.", referring to the three places were battles were fought. The ribbon is divided in three vertical bars of equal width, in the colours of the Dutch flag, red, white, and blue.

W.F. Bax, Ridderorden, eereteekenen, draagteekens en penningen, betreffende de Weermacht van Nederland en Koloniƫn (1813-heden). Maastricht: Van der Dussen, 1973.

H.G. Meijer, C.P. Mulder & B.W. Wagenaar, Orders and Decorations of The Netherlands. Venlo: Van Grinsven, 1984. 2nd revised edition.

Picture of medal courtesy of Robert Prummel, published in Wikipedia under the GNU Free Documentation License version 1.2 (Guinea Medal 1870).

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