Britain - Egypt war 1840
Historic background

Mehemet Ali, the Pasha of Egypt and nominally the vassal of the Ottoman Sultan, decided to take advantage of the weakened state of Turkey to extend his own area of influence by invading Palestine in November 1831. He advanced north, capturing Acre in May 1832 and Damascus in June. The Sultan, in desperation, turned for help to Russia and made concessions to Mehemet Ali ceding him Palestine and Syria. In 1839 the Sultan decided to strike back at Egypt but his army was routed at Nezib on 29 June and the Turkish main fleet deserted at Alexandria. In July 1840 Britain, Austria, Russia and Prussia agreed to back Turkey and Admiral Sir Robert Stopford ordered Captain Charles Napier to proceed to Beirut(i). France felt otherwise, but her fleet was unprepared for war.

Between August and November 1840, Commodore Sir Charles Napier, second-in-command to Admiral Sir Robert Stopford commanding the Mediterranean fleet, conducted a series of operations that forced the Egyptian troops of Mehemet Ali out of the towns along the Syrian coast including Beirut, Sidon and Tyre, fought and won a major land engagement against Ibrahim Pasha, the Egyptian Army commander and culminated in the bombardment of Acre on November 3 1840. The tactical victory having been won, the fleet then sailed to Alexandria where it extracted concessions from the Pasha. In exchange for the hereditary rule in Egypt, Mehemet Ali ordered the immediate evacuation of Syria and the return of the Turkish fleet.



British Naval General Service Medal 1793-1840 

clasp SYRIA  (November 1840)  


Source: Acre or Saint Jean D'Acre (Akka), 1840

Like many of the campaign medals of this period, this one was awarded to numerous British troops who assisted in the suppression of rebellious Egyptian forces under the Egyptian Viceroy Mehmed Ali, in 1840. The forces of Mehmed Ali marched up the coast into Syria to seize Acre, then held the city from September 10 to December 9. All British personnel who qualified for the Naval General Service Medal with "Syria" clasp were eligible for this medal, although the class awarded was dependent on rank. The medal came in three classes: bronze, silver and gold, but examples are known in silvered bronze. In addition, there were three jeweled classes of the gold medal, with various sizes of diamonds set in a bezel around the medal itself.  These jeweled classes were awarded only to the highest ranks of government, with the highest class probably going only to the Sultan.  The medal is 29 mm, and bears the tughra of Sultan Abdulmejid I on the obverse, surrounded by two branches of laurel. On the reverse is the castle of Acre, with a semicircle of stars around the top, and an inscription around the bottom that reads: "The People of Syria". The ribbon for the gold medal is watered rose colored with white border stripes, while the silver and bronze medals uses salmon pink, unwatered, with white border stripes.

There is also a variant of this medal, referred to as "sancakli" or "with flag", which has a different obverse and reverse.  The obverse features a flag over a smaller tughra, and the reverse has the inscription in English: "ACRE - 1840 - SYRIA" in three lines.  This variant is only known in silver.