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Hong Kong plague medal, England, 1894

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Bubonic plague swept through Hong Kong from May to September 1894, claiming 2,500 lives. The Hong Kong authorities awarded this medal to nurses, civil servants, police, and British army and naval personnel who helped the crown colony during the epidemic. The medal shows a Chinese man lying on a bed being tended to by a female nurse while a man holds off the winged figure of Death. The Chinese characters on the left hand side spell out the name of the colony. This medal (complete with ribbon) was awarded to Private S Abbey of the King’s Shropshire Light Infantry who served in Hong Kong during the epidemic. Overall 400 men and women received this medal. However, British army personnel were not authorised to wear them on their uniforms.

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Glossary: commemorative

Use for items produced, issued, or worn to commemorate a person, event, or occasion. For structures erected to preserve the memory of persons or events, use "memorials."

Glossary: military medal

A military medal is a decoration given to military personnel or units for heroism in battle or distinguished service. They are designed to be worn on military uniform.

Glossary: bubonic plague

Thought to have been the cause of the Black Death, the bubonic plague is caused by a bacterial infection of the lymphatic system, the network of capillary vessels in the human body. The plague is most commonly transmitted via the bites of fleas. Characteristic symptoms include enlarged lymph glands (buboes).