Harb Madalyasi, a.k.a. Türkischer Eiserner Halbmond

War Medal a.k.a. Gallipoli Star

Instituted on March 01, 1915 by the Sultan of the Ottoman Empire Mehmed Reshad V (reigned from 27.04.1909 to 03.07.1918) for gallantry in battle to military personnel, not being an award for an exact campaign, and exceptional merits for non-combatants. This decoration was awarded for the duration of WWI to Ottoman and other Central Powers troops, primarily in Ottoman areas of engagement.

Turkish War Medal is mainly referred to by two informal names – while Commonwealth nations call it “Gallipoli Star”, it is widely known in Germany as a “Türkischer Eiserner Halbmond”.

Harb Madalyasi is an a way an “entry level” gallantry award of the Turkish military in WWI ranking below the silver Liyakat Medal. Even though it’s a low-level award German troops unofficially regarded it as a Turkish equivalent to the Prussian Iron Cross which led to its nickname, “Iron Crescent”. It’s worth mentioning though that War Medal was never made of iron.

This award is the only Ottoman decoration which was not awarded by authority of the Sultan but rather was authorized by the Commander-in-Chief of the Ottoman military, Enver Pasha. That’s why award documents do not bear the tughra, i.e. calligraphic monogram of the Sultan. Due to political reasons Sultan Mehmed VI Vahideddin officially recognized these medals after the war as having been awarded by his will.

Turkish War Medal was issued in two versions – for officers and other ranks. The former was made of silvered brass with red enamel while the latter of white metal with thin red lacquer. Nevertheless any recipient had an opportunity to purchase fine award from numerous German jewelers who kept on producing medals during WWI and Weimar Republic-era.   

The award includes a badge, ribbon, miniature and campaign bars.

The medal has a vaulted star-shaped badge, 56 mm across the diagonal span of the arms. The tips of the star are capped by ball finials and enclosed in a raised silver edge with the field in red lacquer or enamel. A raised crescent, open at the top, encircles the center of the badge. Inside the crescent is the tughra of Sultan Mehmed Reshad V over the date “1333” (1915). The reverse is flat, unadorned and has a straight pin.

29 mm wide medal ribbon for combatants is red with two 5 mm white stripes. For non-combatant recipients the colors are reversed.

When in formal dress, the badge was worn at the center, below the left breast pocket for Turks and the right pocket for Germans, Austrians and Bulgarians.

Wear of the badge was exclusive and for everyday wear the ribbon from the second hole in the tunic button was used. For Austrian and German recipients the award took lower precedence to Iron Cross 2nd class and the ribbon of the Iron Crescent was placed beneath that of the Iron Cross.

The ribbon could also be fashioned into a chest riband for placement on a ribbon bar when in undress.

The campaign bar designed to be worn on the ribbon is a right-pointing trapezoidal clasp of white metal at 56 mm in length and 7 mm in height. In the field is red Arabic script denoting the specific campaign or theaters of operations during the war. The most commonly seen battle clasps are “Chanakkale” or “Chanak” (Gallipoli), “Kafkas”, “Kanal”, “Sana”, and “Kut-ul-Ammara”. “Irak” clasp also exists but it seems it may be a post-war invention as the nation of Iraq didn’t exist until the Middle East was divided by the allies after the war. These campaign clasps had no official status but their wear seems to have been accepted at the time of the war.

There are a huge variety of German-made private purchase examples that were manufactured by virtually every German court jeweler from the WWI-era through the Third Reich period.  Private purchase badges were made of silver, white metal, silvered bronze, bronze and aluminum with a variety of pin attachments, screw back attachments or rings at the top for wear on a medal bar.  A few examples of a much larger size are known almost certainly private purchase pieces.

GE_army_43 GE_army_77 GE_navy_20 GE_army_102 GE_army_106

Eiserner Halbmond 1