The Bosnian-Herzegovina Commemorative Medal
After the Ottoman-Russian War of 1877/78 the major powers agreed during the so-called Congress of Berlin on the 13th of June 1878 that Austrian-Hungary should take over the administration of the former Ottoman provinces of Bosnia and the Herzegovina. On the 29th of July 1878 the Austro-Hungarian XIII. Army Corps crossed the Save and after heavy fighting and the capture of Sarajevo the whole territory was occupied on the 1st of October 1878. During the following decades this occupied country stayed under the administration of the army, namely the 13th corps command, which made the post of the commanding general there the most "political" and "civilian" appointment in the whole Austro-Hungarian Army. After some mutinies, the most serious one in 1882, the situation in these provinces normalized, the army ran the postal service as well as the railways, they built roads, bridges as well as schools and hospitals. Besides the Bosnian-Herzegovinian Gendarmerie, four infantry regiments and one Feldjägerbataillon of the regular army were raised from this occupied area and over the years the "Bosniaks" became the most loyal elite units of the whole empire - like the Gurkhas of the British Army. Thirty years after the occupation of the area, which had still the legal status of occupied territory, was annexed by the Austro-Hungarian Empire on the 5th of October 1908. The new provinces became neither part of the Austrian nor of the Hungarian part of the monarchy, they were administrated by newly created federal authorities. To commemorate this day of the annexation, when Bosnia and the Herzegovina became legal constituent parts of the state, Kaiser Franz Joseph introduced the "Bosnian-Herzegovina Commemorative Medal" on the 30th of August 1909.
The bronze (sometimes also gold plated specimens can be found) medal showed on the obverse the portrait of Kaiser Franz Joseph looking to the right. Only his head is pictured to avoid any discussions which clothes - military uniform or not - he is wearing! The Latin inscription read "FRANC. IOS. I. D. G. IMP. AVSTR. REX BOH. ETC. AP. REX HVNG." (Franz Joseph I. Kaiser of Austria, King of Bohemia etc. Apostolic King of Hungary). On the reverse a laurel-tree is shown, holding in the upper section the coat of arms from these provinces - a crowned shield bearing an armoured arm holding a sabre - in the leaves on both sides of this shield the Latin date "DIE V." and "OCT. - MCMVIII" and on the basic roots an enrolled banner with the inscription "IN MEMORIAM". This 36 mm wide medal, designed by Richard Placht, was worn on a 40 mm half red and half yellow (the colours of Bosnia-Herzegovina) typical triangle ribbon. With regards to the regulations this medal should have been received by all persons who were on active duty with the military and civilian administration of Bosnia and the Herzegovina on the 5th of October 1908. From the about 3000 produced medals about 2800 were awarded.
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